Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ants Under Glass

Well we bought a hummingbird feeder and it says to change the mysterious red liquid every 5 days. I leave that for my mom to do, and prefer feeding hummingbirds the natural way. Buying it was her idea. We've had them in the past, nothing ever shows up to them so we stopped for a while. But now that we've seen a hummingbird at the native honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, that's changed.

So we went to change the water and...

Oh My God! It's full of dead ants! AHHHHH!

Yes it seems the nocturnal foraging Camponotus castaneus, one of the largest ants of North America, can somehow fit through the guard that normally keeps bees out of the thing. Another Camponotus species can also fit through but it's one of the smaller species you'd expect to find floating around in this thing among dozens of others. C. castaneus major workers are around 15mm long which is pretty darn close to an inch. So we've moved the feeder to another spot in the yard. I'd rather not slowly kill this beautiful species.

Dead ants aside, this creates sometime beautiful in itself. It's on par with looking at specimens preserved in a vile of alcohol I think. The abdomen swells up to the point that the digestive track can becomes visible. The color becomes somber, (alcohol is usually yellow/amber in color,) which can force people to see details they would have otherwise ignored thanks to the color. Color is of course useful but patterns vary in ants and while I'd never say ignore it, color has to be backed up by other details.

As interesting as this was, I hope I don't keep finding ants in this thing.