Beemaster's International Beekeeping Forum


Title: Australian Ants
Post by: nepenthes on December 28, 2006, 01:03:41 am

Just a bunch of pictures you guys might enjoy, Australia doesn't have many ID'd ant species but theirs bound to be thousands un-identified.
Title: Re: Australian Ants
Post by: Cindi on December 28, 2006, 12:22:16 pm
nepenthes, there was an interesting picture on the link that you posted that was speaking about the males and the queen's mating flight.

I am curious about the wings on ants.  Quite often in summertime here we see what I have always called "flying ants".  The large black ants with wings.  I am wondering now, if that was simply the queen, not a "flying ant".  Now this may sound rather ignorant, but I am quite so when it comes to the deeper side of insects.

when one sees ants with wings, is this the queen ant always?  Is this true with most ant species?  Do any ants, other than queens have wings?  Can you elaborate on my questions?  Great day. Cindi
Title: Re: Australian Ants
Post by: nepenthes on December 28, 2006, 01:13:03 pm
No worries you don't get educated about ants in school, they are usually just looked at as a social insect that has come far from its wasply days, so most people don't know to much.

In most species, "flying ants" are Really alates. They are the reproductives for the species of ant, Their are, Males, and Females.

Males, in most species are used in one rule, Mating. That is it, they are not hardwired enough to complete the complicated task of tending to larvae, or moving around dirt, they have no real use in the colony except for keeping the genetics of the colony alive.

Females, are all the workers in the colony. They are the easiest and cheapest to produce, and keep alive, and thus the colony runs on female power to keep a colony alive. But the queen, decides how many get to be capable of reproducing. Now this varies from species to species, and is generally decided upon by the queen and the internal clock she is programed with, but it can also be apart of the nutritional intake the workers bringing. Protein usually rules how much of what gets laid, males females.

but when the queen decides to make reproductive female alates, she lays an egg which will eventually turn out to be a flying, reproductive capable ant.

Hear is a picture of reproductives. You can see the Females, are larger and bulkier for all the hardware they need to reproduce, while the males are allot smaller with smaller heads, you don't need allot of space to be hardwired to look for a female and mate with her. This species Lasius is a great example of female, male and worker castes.


They haven't mated yet, and are getting ready for the mating flight!

Their are many unique ways of an ant to mate, some species of ant don't even fly, such as Myrmecia sp's  the Bulldog ants or Jumping Jacks of Australia! They produce males and females in much the similar manner, but they don't fly, they are so primitive. Their are some other speices of ant that are even more primitive that they have all females in the colony capable of producing but usually the top female is the one that reproduces, this ant to is in Australia, this leaves question of how do more colony's get formed? Some colony's have more than one queen, some times in the 100's, this can be seen in Fire ant species which can have 20 or more queens each capable of producing and maintaining about 25,000 worker castes.

I forgot one thing, Female alates, or Queens remove their wings once they are mated.

I could go on, but I have chores to do ;-)
Title: Re: Australian Ants
Post by: Cindi on December 29, 2006, 12:20:05 am
nepenthes, Wow, you have inspired an interest in ants with me, and I thought that I was only really interested in apis meliferra.  Ants will always be in the background, but I could find that I could spend also some time learning more about them. THanks for the information, it is good and wonderful.  Great day.  Cindi.
Title: Re: Australian Ants
Post by: nepenthes on December 29, 2006, 01:13:29 pm
You would be surprised at how much you will want to start a colony, and then  a termite colony, and then a was hive.

Of course I cant do the later until I get my own place.

Title: Re: Australian Ants
Post by: Cindi on December 30, 2006, 10:35:00 am
nepenthes, I once went with my grandchildren to an exhibit where they had the leaf cutter ant. I imagine that there are many species of leaf cutters, but these were incredibly remarkable.  They had the ants housed in an enormous "cage" we will call it, with a clear piece of tunnel that ran all around the room.  I watched these ants march for a long time to get to the place where they got the foliage, marched back to their colony and worked the greens.  This was years ago, going back in cobwebs of my memory, and it seemed that they chewed up the leaves and made some kind of fungus from it to feed, probably young.  These ants even had an area which was their burial ground, far away from the food source.  That really interested me watching these little guys going at their daily work.  I think that ants hold an incredible life plan. 

I watch the regular ants around my home alot when I am outside working.  They never cease to absolutely amaze me when they carry their food, whatever it be that is many times bigger than their own bodies.

I grow asparagus.  In the early summer we are plagued by the asparagus beetle.  It is actually a very pretty species, two species I have here I deal with.  One looks like an elongated lady beetle (which we have many too), the other just like an asparagus beetle (lol).  I do not like to use any pesticides (unless completely 100% natural, such as Bt) on my property.  So I spend a fair amount of time picking off these little insects and squishing them between my thumb and first finger.  They are hard little buggers to catch sometimes. They watch you and when you go to reach for them they moved over to the other side of the asparagus tip.  But I fool them, I pull down the frond and knock them off into my hand, then I can "squish their head".  It is yucky but it works.  I know, cause I see them, ants that await at the bottom of the asparagus shoots.  They quickly pick up these little vermin and take them home, I'm sure to have a wonderful dinner, I know they taste just like asparagus.

Now that is another story in itself.  Read on, IF YOU WANT TO ENTER THE WORLD OF THE WEIRD. ha, you'll laugh for sure.

My husband is a very funny man, he does things to tease me and oh he makes me laugh.  One day we both were out picking off these little bugs.  He said, "wonder if these taste like asparagus", so of course I sent a dare to him.  Now a dare is one that you never give to my dear husband.  He looked at me and said "OK, watch".  I grimmaced.  He picked one off (LIVE), and put it in his mouth.  I anticipated that he would just spit it back out.  He actually chewed this poor little thing up.  Had a smile on his face and told me that it tasted just like asparagus.  Oh brother!!!!  That poor insect, gave up its life to bring a smile to my face.

This was just like another time when I was digging in the garden and pulled out a very very large leatherjacket (mosquito hawk) larva.  Ugly, big and hideous things that they are.  He asked if I dared him to eat it.  Well, I cannot give in to not giving him a dare.  He that one did not taste very good for sure.  But he chewed it up anyways, I could see the look of horror on his face, (oh man I am actually laughing out loud right now, cause it was funny).  But he kept on chewing.  Then, when he was done, he spit this juicy big blob of stuff onto the grass.  Kind of reminds me of when I used to see my grandfather spitting out the tobacco juice from his plug of gross tobacco.

The things that people do with bugs.  Off topic, can't seem to stop with my stories once I get going.  Have an awesome day.  Nepenthes, I hope that one day you will get a place where you can set up all your "insect" stuff.  Great day.  Cindi
Title: Re: Australian Ants
Post by: nepenthes on December 30, 2006, 02:31:22 pm
Their are 2 species of leaf cutter in the USA

Atta, and Acromrymex. Acromyrmex in the USA is allot less tropical, and Atta have complex caste systems. I haven't done to much research in atta but I know a few basic things. They do grow fungus, and this fungus is feed to the brood. The queens are usually VERY VERY large! Some averaging about 2 inches! Big hairy and ugly! Seeing as how they have populations in the 100 thousands you would understand why

Atta laevigata

If you can get a Permit from the FDA and want to spend about 150 dollars you can get a well established Atta colony online.
(this one is more diverse but not as impressive as the atta castes)

With Atta their are a few casts.
Male, Reproductive Female, Major, Sub Major, Minor and Sub Minor. Now their are all sorts of ranges, but thats what I'm going to call them for easier reading purposes, but basically they worker size can be any where from 1mm to 2.5 cm's.

hear is a good example

Acromyrmex are just really really really diverse in their habitat and species.

Trachymyrmex is the one im on the look out for it is the farthest north Fungus growing ant.

You're husband must be brave!