Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall Flying Ants (Video)

Brachymyrmex depilis is among the easiest ants for someone to step right over in the garden. The genus contains some of the smallest ants in the world, though I don't know how this species stacks up to it. Alates are flying from the nests now and I particularly find them  right after its rained outside, though I've never located them exiting a colony. Their colonies are also pretty hard to spot. Something about their alates though is they are notorious for landing in pools of water and it's not an uncommon sight to find queens using expired males like a raft.

In contrast, Lasius claviger colonies are just as unseen over the year except for now. They're a social parasite of other Lasius species and produce 10 times as many alates as their hosts do to make sure successful colonies happen. In the afternoon hours colonies will erupt with tens of thousands of queens and males (usually favoring one gender heavily). Despite their numbers I've seen people walk right through thousands of them without even noticing. Sometimes I'll be in a field full of them, and people will walk up to me becuase I'm "doing something odd" and not even realize the ants even after they've started crawling up their legs, and landing on them.