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Myrmecos

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The other ant-fungi

If I were to mention an ant-fungus mutualism- that is, an ecological partnership between an ant and a fungus that benefits both- most biologically literate people might think of the famed leafcutter ants and the edible mycelia they cultivate.  But that is just one example. Several other fungi have entered into productive relationships with ants,…

Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus Goldenrod Soldier Beetles Illinois, USA Here at Myrmecos Blog we aim for a family-friendly atmosphere.  Except for beetle sex.  Sometimes we just can’t resist. (There’s also plant sex going on here too, if you’re into that sort of thing…) Photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D ISO…

Pyramica clypeata

Pyramica clypeata Urbana, Illinois photo details: Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec, flash diffused through tracing paper

A battle for the desert

While in Arizona, I chanced upon a set of ant fights that I’d observed several times previously.  Single workers of the maricopa harvester ant Pogonomyrmex maricopa would approach a nest of their competitor, Aphaenogaster long-legged ants, and spend a few minutes drawing heat from the guards before wandering off. The interaction is common enough that…

The Phantom Ant of the Florida Dunes

Paratrechina Nylanderia phantasma Archbold Biological Station, Florida Here’s an ant I almost didn’t notice.  Paratrechina Nylanderia phantasma is one of the least known insects in North America, active at night and restricted to a particular type of sandy soil in Florida.  Workers are only a couple millimeters long and the color of sand.  In the…

Ants of Archbold

The Archbold Biological Station hosts 100+ species of ants.  Here are a few of them.

I spent last week in central Florida at the Archbold Biological Station. Archbold preserves 5,000 hectares of Florida sand scrub, some of the last remaining patches of an ecosystem now largely lost to agriculture and strip malls.  The sand scrub is an odd place, a fossil beach from when sea levels were high enough to…

Pheidole Friday Beetle Blogging

Who says we can’t have both beetles and Pheidole on Friday? A South African Sap Beetle (Nitidulidae) reacts to a swarm of Pheidole megacephala by retracting its legs and antennae, leaving little exposed but smooth chitin.  The ants have difficulty finding anything their mandibles can grab, even if they have the tank-like beetle surrounded. photo…

The spotted maize beetle Astylus atromaculatus is native to subtropical South America but has spread to warm regions in other parts of the world.  In late summer, adults congregate on flowers to mate and feed on pollen. photo details (all photos): Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D ISO 100, 1/250…

The summer insect season is upon us here in temperate North America, and with it comes the need for good identification guides. Before I begin, a cautionary note.  We have so many species on our continent that were we to create a bird-type guide that listed all the insects, with their ranges and identifying characteristics,…