Monday, July 20, 2009

What's This?

What did I take a picture of now, your wondering? Well, it's not spilled rice but eggs and pupae of the Carpenter Ant. I was mowing on beyond the lawn to try and discourage the infestation of grasshoppers. Our wet weather should have discouraged their reproduction but it hasn't. In fact, a local rancher told me they were haying as fast as they could ahead of the pesky insects for they were stripping their alfalfa fields clean. I figured that was all my garden needed, after two hail storms and the late frosts, is a swarm of grasshoppers.

Anyway, a piece of a two by six board was laying in my mowing path, so I picked it up. Underneath was this colony of ants and their offspring.

It was a good thing I still had my camera on me because in a matter of a few minutes the hundreds of eggs under the old board were carted off and stuffed down into the dark crevices of the earth.

Curiosity got the best of me and I looked up types of ants on the Internet and then their life cycle. They just have to be Carpenter Ants as they fit the description perfectly. Don't look at the red coloring the photos give them for the pictures are deceiving, they are pure black.

The ants were suppose to emit an odor when disturbed but, I didn't smell anything when I moved the board. Then again, my nose always runs a bit when I mow. The Internet didn't say whether the smell was good or bad. Of course, I like the smell of manure as the wind picks it up and whiffs it past my nose so maybe, they figured that was for us to judge.

What I found fascinating was that these ants can range in size from a quarter inch to a half inch, all in one colony. Ours are small, but that's not surprising because the food supply of aphids and fruit isn't plentiful. What really surprised me was that little ants do not grow up to be big ants. They don't change in size.

But, I think whoever named the workers was being degrading when they gave those who forage and care for the young the title, Minor Workers and those that guard the colony, Major Workers. Neither one would exist if they didn't do their respective jobs, so I think they should be renamed.

Garbage collectors can now be called Sanitation Engineers ( Or do they have a different title again?) then, why can't Major and Minor ants be called something else. How about Sentry Workers and Living Essentials Workers. Mmm..., too many I feel like I'm hissing like a snake. I give up. My brain is still working on my next gardening blog and the hordes of bugs that have suddenly descended upon my garden. Let me know if you come up with something better, while I join the battle outside. We've employed a small army to help fight the infestation of grasshoppers and Flea Beetles - only, they don't fight unless I'm by their side. Join me this Friday or maybe sooner to view pictures of the troops plus more gardening tips - that is if there is a garden left. Otherwise, I'll be showing a disaster film.

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