Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My Ant Colony

My Ant Colony

My Ant Colony

Have been interested in this ant colony for a while. Had quite a few images that I have sorted and I looked up red ants.

The image of the lady up above is the best image of a "single" worker that I could find. When researching, discovered a lot about the red "fire" ants plaguing farmers and avid ant hunters (kids). Looked deeper and discovered Red Harvester Ants at Wikipedia. This information defined my colony with a bit more accuracy. The "binomial name" or scientific name of these ants is Pogonomyrmex barbatus.

Ant Colony: May 2016

Ant Colony: October 2016

The above images show how the colony has grown over the 5-6 months I have been watching and investigating it.As of October the colony is about 3.5 feet wide and 4 feet elongated. The length follows the obvious trail over to my garden area in back. Below is a detail of the entrance at the hub of the colony mound during May 2016.

A trail that has cut a groove into the mound is clearly visible inside the October 2016 image. This is one of the traits harvester ants exhibit. Two to three trails or spoke leading from the central entrance hub. The October 2016 image also displays this hub and spoke type design by the ants.

Also, noted inside the Wikipedia article was that seed husks and debris was "scattered" around the ant nest. I submit that even the litter is organised and purposely sorted as shown in the following imnages. The first below shows the seed husks in the upper/middle left of the colony

The image below is my best detail shot capturing the seed husks.

Below, the first in a series of photos. This image was captured around 3:09 P.M. in the afternoon.

Before Mouse

I found this rodent over in my side yard already a piece of fresh meat. It was still warm, I think. Did not touch it with unprotected skin and washed my hands and tools with disinfectant after moving this disease ridden rodent to the ant colony.

After Mouse: 4:43 P.M.

I took photos while it was daylight. The Wikipedia article did not mention harvester ants eating meat. Am assuming that they were just going to move this mouse.

When I checked in the morning the mouse was no where to be found. Spent about half-an-hour searching around the nest and it wasn't there. Am still assuming the ants moved the mouse, one of my neighbors cats may have decided to play with it, or the ants dismembered the mouse and moved it.Even followed the trail (below) to see if it was along its route. When the grasses are not trampled down by my exploring the trail goes about 15 feet from the nest and splits into a 'Y' to the left and right. This is quite obvious yet difficult to capture inside an image.

Neither was the mouse over where they are storing their seed husks. UPDATE 4nov16: Was outside showing my neighbor the ant colony along with showing him this blog post. Someone has stepped onto the mound. The kids are always climbing my wall. Anyway the ants are quite stirred up with activity tonight and I captured some quick images I will post tomorrow. I am interested in finding out if the ants repair the symmetry of the slopes. There must be a good 250 - 300 ants on top of the mound. Am not sure if there is nocturnal activity at night. Guess I will find out because it is past evening twilight as this is texted.

Had planned on posting some images of the repairs involved with a single footprint into the nest mound. But, apparently there was a grass fire on my side yard while I was gone. Below is the damage, both caused by the fire and the efforts to extinguish the fire.

Am going to watch the reconstruction to maybe learn something.

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