Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Some Ant Flight Activity

Earlier this week a colony of Odorous House Ants, Tapinoma sessile, attempted conducting a nuptial flight inside my house. They failed miserably and I was greeted by the occasional alate (winged ant) every few minutes. They climbed up from wherever the colony is and made their way across the computer table to the window and eventually found freedom. Clearly anting season is here, which begs the question, what else is flying?

First incredibly hot night of the year that lacked any wind or in coming cold fronts treated me to a full pallet of what's flying now. The main ant for my area is Camponotus castaneus, pictured above and previously here on the blog. Males are hard to identify but I'm reasonably sure C. castaneus is the only one (for my area) that has orange males. This is uncommon for ants across the board. Usually male ants are black regardless of the species color. There were other Camponotus males there that were black but without knowing what the queen or workers look like an ID can't really be made. At least not by me. There is also a Lasius species that seems to over winter it's alates, instead of flying in the fall like most of the other species.

This is an awful picture of male Tetramorium males. They're suspended in a spider web which is a good way to see what was flying the night before.

That night I found a Tetramorium queen, Pavement Ant. These didn't fly until midnight.

So there's a full succession of flights based on the hour of the day. Early on Nylanderia, Tapinoma, and I've found a few Myrmica (with wings) this early in the year before. As the afternoon comes and night falls Camponotus, and Lasius seem to fly next. And very late at night and probably well into the morning Tetramorium fly.

You could argue there's to much to do in the day for someone interested in ants. Thankfully I've found there is roughly a 24 hour period after a flight that queens seem to be abundant and about. Making a habit of checking under the same rocks, logs, flower pots, etc... can yield results.