Saturday, September 16, 2017

This Week in Anting 09/16/2017

 This week I got to try PawPaws for the first time ever and Lasius neoniger flew! 

Asimina triloba is the northern most member of the custard apple family which is largely tropical. This is the only species native to the United States and one of the few host plants to the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly. The flowers are pollinated by small vinegar flies and are supposed to require a second cultivar or genetically different tree of the same species in order to produce fruit.... but this is the only tree in my yard and probably the only tree in the whole county. It would seem this cultivar is semi-self fertile. The tree is roughly 12' tall and produced 12 sizable fruits though not on every branch that flowered. Presumably had there been a genetically different tree nearby it would have made even more fruit. (It's either 'Sunflower' or 'Pennsylvania Gold')

The smell is amazing when ripe or slightly damaged. The fruits perfume the air with a fragrance that leaves one assuming some sort of Banana and Orange factory has exploded somewhere. It's very potent and alerts the homeowners, hikers, and wildlife that the fruit is ready. 

The inside texture is somewhat gooey verging on vanilla pudding except for the fairly large and flat seeds with are like skipping stones or pebbles. The taste of a slightly unripe one is that of bananas with hints of cantaloupe (or musk melon as it's known in most of the world). A fully ripe one tastes more like a really sweet banana with a candy-like quality to them. It's a shame this fruit has such a short shelf life of about a day and a half because that's been the main reason it hasn't become main stream. (When they are for sale they can sometimes go for $15 a pound!)

 Fruit such as this is intended to be eaten by animals and carried away from the tree in the wild. If it just falls to the ground though it falls on other creatures to then remove the fruit and free the seeds within. Fungus and mold will do the job otherwise but may also destroy the seeds within.

 Members of what must be a very happy Prenolepis imparis colony spent the day cutting up the fruit and hauling it home after most of the workers had engorged themselves on it.

 A fairly decent anatomy pic showing off the acidopore, a slightly tuft of hairs at the tip of the gaster/abdomen. This is a key trait when identifying ants in the subfamily Formicinae and a conclusive way to tell them apart from members of Dolichoderinae.

 Another good anatomy shot. Here the tiny waist segment is clearly visible separating the gaster from the mesosoma.

 Brachymyrmex dipilis was also flying that day. This is one of the smallest ants in the U.S.