Monday, June 23, 2014

Viaduct Footings: California Harvester Ants

Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 12, 2014.  Could the large winged ants (see arrows) be future queens leaving the California Harvester Ant nest through the rear entrance (above the historic viaduct footings)?  (Click on photos to enlarge.)
Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 12, 2014.  The main entrance of the Harvester Ant nest is a few feet from the back door.  How do you know this is a Harvester Ant nest?  The large debris pile of seed casings and bits of dry weeds surrounding the nest is a good clue. 

There are several Harvester Ant colonies on the north end of the Red Car Property.  They are native ants, and a sign of a healthy ecosystem/food web as there is enough biodiversity to support their existence. They are disappearing from urbanized ares in Los Angeles.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 12, 2014.  While I was shooting photos of the ants at backdoor, I noticed several were huge & had wings.  I had never seen that before, in the years I've been crawling around on the ground trying to get a good shot of THEM!
Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 12, 2014.  The winged ants were 3 times larger than the small ants ushering them out of the nest.  The workers using the main entrance fall somewhere between these two in size.  

Unfortunately, while attempting to get a better shot, I cast a shadow over this entrance.  The small ants quickly ushered the winged ants back into the nest, while others came out to defend against intruders.  Mostly they just ran around posturing, and checking the perimeter, then returned to the nest. I let them be as they can deliver a pretty sharp bite.