Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Ray Mendez's house.
All his repletes had a taste of apples because he always keeps a slice of apple in the foraging area. The ants nibble at the apple over time, and then place their waste upon it, making clean up nice and easy. All you need to do is replace the apple slice.
The only real tip he had about keeping fungus ants was to never let them grow their fungus on the ground. New queens just starting out sort of have to make do, but established colonies, even ones with basketball sized fungus gardens don't let their fungus sit on the ground. Often the fungus will grow amongst the roots of plants or on top of stones.
I learned an awful lot from Ray and can't wait to put this knowledge to good use. I'm thrilled to have met him and even asked for his autograph.
Friday, August 29, 2014
For time reasons we didn't get down below 3'. And it likely extends much deeper than that. Most of the ant nests in the area seem to go down 12' or so. How many queens they have, or if the ant hills are connected somehow underground are unknown. It's likely that these nests are not connected and there might be only one queen per hole, but also likely that in the winter the nests combine down into fewer holes. Perhaps queen number and or age help determine the number of satellite holes.
That was the extent of our study. Future courses may continue the work.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
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.