natural history

Myrmecos

Tag archives for natural history

Monday Night Mystery

Something took a bite out of this leaf: What was it? Three points for the taxonomic order of the culprit, five for family, and two for explaining the natural history. Points are awarded only for the first correct guess in each category. And maybe some extra ones if you get creative with the natural history.…

A query from the inbox: Hi, my question is regarding the gender of the worker ants (and the ant queen). As we all know; they are female, however was this discovered many centuries ago or is this a recent discovery? I plead ignorance.  I know apiculturists had figured out the sex of worker bees in…

Location, location, location

This young black widow (Latrodectus hesperus) set up shop above the nest entrance of a colony of Pogonomyrmex harvester ants.  It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, allowing the spider nearly unlimited pickings as the ants come and go. The spider’s mottled coloration is typical of young widows; they don’t acquire the striking black and red warning garb…

Here’s a question for my myrmecologist readers.  Has anyone published observations of ritualized fighting among colonies of Pogonomyrmex harvester ants?  I know such behavior was famously studied by Bert Hoelldobler in Myrmecocystus, and that ritual combat has been noted in Camponotus and Iridomyrmex.  The reason I ask is that the pogos in my front yard…

Losing an Herbarium

One of the most important collections of South American plants is being shut down. The Utrecht Herbarium in the Netherlands houses nearly 1 million specimens and 10,000 types. When the museum closes we will lose a wealth of knowledge about the flora of a diverse and endangered part of the world. Read More and Sign…

Adranes ant-nest beetle California The most exciting finds are often the least expected. I stumbled across this odd little beetle while collecting ants several years ago in northern California. It was tiny, only a few millimeters long, with a little blind nubbin for a head whose sole purpose seemed to be supporting antennae that looked…

Ants and Plants Gallery

Common caricatures of Darwinian evolution evoke nature as a brutal force, one of ruthless competition in which the strongest prevail. In truth evolutionary processes can be much more nuanced. Under a wide array of conditions, species find Darwinian advantage in cooperative relationships. Some of the most striking cases of evolutionary partnerships involve the planet’s dominant…