Final Friday I used to be tasked with accumulating some fireplace ant decapitating flies (Pseudacteon curvatus). Fortunate for me, the season for accumulating these flies hasn’t fully ended. Additionally, to my shock, there are nonetheless loads of seen fireplace ant mounds nearly all over the place in School Station, Texas. Friday was a little bit chilly and overcast, however I had a sense Saturday could be a great day. Certainly, Saturday was nice. I didn’t should go far on my hunt.
I made a decision to first search in my neighborhood. There have been so many fireplace ant mounds and the earlier I may gather the higher. I disturbed a number of mounds by kicking the highest layer of the nest. It didn’t take too lengthy for decapitating flies to point out up. The flies cue in on the alarm pheromone of the hearth ants. As quickly as they arrive, they start laying eggs by attacking the ants. Shortly diving out and in, hoping to inject their sharp ovipositor (egg laying organ) and lay an egg into the hearth ant host.
As I continued to benefit from the good climate and look forward to extra flies to point out as much as gather, some curious children got here as much as me. Twice I used to be requested the query, “what are these white issues <pointing on the fireplace ant nest>?” I noticed I’ve heard this query many occasions earlier than. Associates and strangers have inquired in regards to the white issues that “appear like rice.” I don’t even give it some thought as a result of I’m so accustomed to the biology of ants – “oh their brood.” This made me notice that if somebody hasn’t discovered about or skilled it, then how would they know? What’s a brood and why does it exist? It’s so bizarre how one thing like a cell darkish pink fireplace ant got here from an motionless whiteish squishy blob.
The direct reply is fortunately easy, the white stuff is their “infants.” Like butterflies, ants and different Hymenopterans (akin to bees and wasps), undergo full metamorphosis, which means, they’ve an egg, larval, pupae, and grownup stage. All these levels look totally different from one another.
The following time you come throughout an ant nest, take a better look. You’ll see all types of life levels and fascinating behaviors.
Joe efficiently completed his prelims! Nancy, Joe, and I’ve been fairly swamped, however we hope to have updates and extra assist quickly 🙂