Skip to Content

Tjala (Honey ants)

Lynette Lewis
42 x 15 Ø cm
Ernabella Arts


Tjala or honey ants live in nests about a metre underground beneath mulga trees, and they are a highly favoured food source. The tjala tunnels that lead down to the ant nests are called nyinantu, and the larvae are called ipilyka-ipilyka. After the rain when the ground is soft the women go digging for tjala by looking for the drill holes under the trees. They then use shovels and crowbars to dig down following the tunnels to find the tjala inside. The story of the tjala is told across the Northern Territory into South Australia.

Desert Mob is presented annually in Mparntwe | Alice Springs on Arrernte Country.

On behalf of Desart’s staff and art centre members, the Executive Committee humbly and respectfully acknowledge the Arrernte Apmereke Artweye (Traditional Owners) and Kwertengerle (Traditional Managers) of Mparntwe.


Desart respectfully advises Aboriginal readers that this website may contain names, images and artworks of people who have passed away.