Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Perennial Sunflower Ants

So something else I was happy to see about the Narrow-Leaf Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius, was that I found ants on it. 

The leaf texture is rather rough feeling but they're also narrow which, for me, makes for an interesting contrast. The leaf hoppers (right) are a lot smaller than I'm used to seeing, and in relatively small groups. They're also hard to see under the slight fold of the leaf. Tending them was an ant I don't often get to see, Camponotus americanus.

Camponotus americanus is a soil nesting ant that most often comes out at night to forage. They're easily recognized in the eastern US, but as we go west, starting with Texas and a bell curve on up to Washington state, we find more species that make relying on color imposable to ID on alone. The head is always black, with the rest of the body ranging from yellow, to deep red.

Camponotus castaneus is a similar looking species but the head is never black, but rather a deep red/brown color.