A screen capture in Google Earth reveals a pattern of pasture freckles in Entre Rios, Argentina.
How about a closer look? I drove past the site last week, and the landscape at ground level sports an array of domed mounds, each about half a meter in height:
And the little engineer behind the mounds?
Camponotus termitarius, the tacurú ant. This perky Argentinian native (often misidentified as C. punctulatus) frequently invades land degraded by agriculture and is an excellent example of how human land-use changes can convert an innocuous local species into a pest. In this case, the problem is large enough to be tracked from orbit.
Tacurú ants aren’t the first insects I’ve found in Google Earth. Entomology via satellite/aerial photo is something of a hobby of mine (see here, for instance). The next challenge: Australia’s magnificent magnetic termites. I’ve not had any luck with these yet, but if any of you happen to find a spot in Google Earth where they’re visible, post the coordinates in the comments.
Photo details (landscape shot): Canon 17-40mm wide angle lens on a Canon EOS 20D, with a polarizing filter and a hard-stop gradient filter. ISO 100, f9.0, 1/60 sec.
Photo details (ant): Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D. ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec, twin flash diffused through tracing paper.