Thursday, August 28, 2014
Arizona: Army Ants
Most Documentaries like to show the genera Eciton from South America, or Dorylus from Madagascar. And odd ball species of their respected genera at that. Cameramen like to focus on the specific species that raid for other insects more so than ant colonies, which is not the norm compared to other species in their genera. This surface raiding makes for good TV, but leads one to believe it to be the norm.
Male ants in general are difficult to identify. Because they're a breeding caste that colonies produce only at a certain time of year for that purpose. Evolution hasn't been kind to them either, especially compared to the worker and queen castes.
Army Ant males are identified mostly by dissecting the abdomen and observing the shape of their genitals. So scientists knew several species from the males they were collecting at lights but hadn't been able to match them up to what workers they belong to. This is something Gordon Snelling and his father helped clear up.