Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ants Emerge

February 1 brought another day of 60 degree temperatures.  I guess the warmth finally soaked through the ant mounds, because the Allegheny Mound Ants were out making repairs today.

They paid little attention to the ant carcasses bundled up in the Flicker droppings.  I was wondering if there was something of nutritional value in the droppings that would be of benefit to the ants.  That might be the Flickers way of making reparation for ingesting so many of the colony’s members.

Some of the ants were just patrolling.  It’s not unusual for the ants to make a winter emergence, but they tend to stay on the mound during these times.  A drop in the temperature will send them quickly back inside.  It’s probably pretty risky to leave the vicinity of the nest during the winter season.  Ants foraging away from the mound could easily be caught by a cold front and get stranded out in the open.

Most of the ants were busy repairing the damage done by the Flickers.  The repair material was being brought up from somewhere inside the mound. 

The priority seemed to be closing the breach at the bottom of the hole and resealing the mound.  If the weather allows the ants to remain active, their next act will most likely be to fill the hole and restore the mound’s surface to its original smooth curve.

Judging by the smile, I’d say this guy is as happy as I am to be outside on such a beautiful day.


  1. Hi Steve..That last one is the bomb...that is just to funny...he does look like he is smiling for the camera ; ]
    I think I'll send the Flicker that is here down to see you ...or do you have the red shafted one there??
    Thanks for sharing yet another tale of the Ant and the Flicker!!

  2. Hi Grace. Ants don't normally smile like that. I had to tickle her under the chin to get that reaction.

    The Flickers here are all the yellow shafted type, so yours would fit right in. It might need some lessons on the proper way to eat an ant.

  3. Pedantic additional comment - The ant is genetically female. SHE has a beautiful smile.