Currently viewing the category: "Ants"
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Subject: Driveway Swarm of these Flying Insects
Location: Southern California
May 4, 2017 8:58 pm
This morning there were hundreds of these flying insects lying dead in the driveway, grouped in a fairly small area about 6 feet across. I scooped up a few onto white paper, added a ruler and took a picture. I’m curious – are these flying ants or are they (heaven forbid) termites?
Signature: Gene

Red Imported Fire Ant Alates

Dear Gene,
These are the reproductive alates of the only species of Ant ubiquitous across Southern California, the Argentine Ant.  When it is time to swarm, winged males and females take flight to mate and start new colonies.  In our opinion, the Argentine Ant is the most destructive invasive exotic species in Southern California, and it does much more damage than the dreaded Med Fly.

Correction:  May 14, 2017
We just received a correction from Ben that these are more likely Red Imported Fire Ant alates, and this BugGuide image does support that correction.  According to BugGuide:  “native to South America, adventive in our area and spreading throughout so. US north to MD-IL-MO-TX-CA); introduced to many Old World countries” and “The most aggressive and widespread of the fire ants found in North America. It was introduced into the US from Brazil between 1933 and 1945.  If their nest is stepped on, the workers rush out and sting the feet and legs of the intruder. Each sting results in a small, painful wound that develops into a pustule in 24-48 hours. As the pustules heal they become itchy and can become infected.”

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Subject: Suspected phoresy on squash bug actually battle casualty?
Location: Pelham, Ontario, Canada
April 28, 2017 7:00 am
Hi! Love the site – long time viewer and occasional contributor!
I was at a golf club and spotted a true bug, which I think may be a squash bug. Sorry for the blurry photo — can you help with ID? I supplied a second shot of the head, which is what made me think it was a squash bug – it is similar to BugGuide photos.
After looking at my photo on my camera’s screen, I noticed something attached to the bug’s antenna. I was excited at first because I like pseudoscorpions and I thought I might be seeing pseudoscorpion phoresy, like in some other excellent photos on your website. I flipped my lens around to attempt some reverse macro shots and although those were blurry too I did manage to get a few somewhat in focus.. and it looks like what I thought was phoresy was actually the results from a battle between the squash bug and some ants. There’s an ant — it looks like it could be quite dead, although it might just be quite tenacious — firmly affixed to the antenna of the squash bug. In one of the photos you can clearly see the ant’s sharp mandible sliced into the antenna.
Anyway, I thought you might like the story and the photos. Love the site!
Signature: Brad

Squash Bug

Dear Brad,
Thanks so much for the compliment.  We agree, based on comparison with this BugGuide image, that you found a Squash Bug in the genus
Anasa.  We do not believe the Ant on the antenna can be classified as phoresy which is defined on Amateur Entomologists Society as “Phoresy is the act of ‘hitching a lift’ on another organism. As invertebrates are small and not all have wings many travel comparatively long distances by using other, more mobile, organisms. …  Another good example is that of pseudoscorpions are small arachnids that resemble scorpions without the long tail and sting. When a flying insect lands nearby the pseudoscorpions grab hold of the larger insect using their pincers. When the insect flies to a new location they carry the pseudoscorpion with them.”  Since Ants are social creatures that depend upon being able to find their way back to the colony, phoresy would have no advantage to the Ant.  We agree with your “battle” supposition, so we will tag this as Food Chain.  We noticed the spines on the thorax of the Ant, and we wonder if it might be an Acrobat Ant in the genus Crematogaster which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “workers and males 2.5-3.5mm.”  Bugs in the News provides some very interesting information on Acrobat Ants preying upon plant-feeding insects to help protect Homopteran insects they are farming:  “Their food, throughout the year, consists primarily of the honeydew secretions of homopteran insects. In fact, they are well-known for farming colonies of such insects as a means of providing their members with a ready supply of the latter’s sweet liquid exudations.
As I mention in an earlier article on acrobat ants found in Temple, Texas, most gardeners are dismayed to find evidence of homopteran incursions onto their  garden plants because, once established, the damage done by these organisms can be extensive and difficult to control. Since acrobat ants work hard to disperse scale, aphids, and mealybugs, one might think the first thing a good gardener should do is to control these ants. Again, first impressions are not always best, as the following demonstrates:  ‘The cultivation of Homoptera by ants is usually considered detrimental to plants, but any damage may be offset by the ants’ predation on defoliators. Another factor that may contribute to the stability of the ant-Homoptera-plant relationship is the ability of some homopterans to withdreaw large quantities of sap without seriously injuring trees, thereby allowing them to feed on the same plant year after year (Bradley and Hinks 1968). A portion of the sap sustains the aphids, but most is passed on as honeydew to the ants. In return, the ants protect the aphids and the trees from their enemies.’ (Hansen and Klotz 2005).

Ant on Squash Bug antenna, probably NOT phoresy

Squash Bug Head

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: I cAN’T identify this insect.
Location: Whittier California
April 8, 2017 9:27 pm
Found this guy on my porch. Never seen anything quite like it in this part of Southern California. I’m currently working on a few non local bonsai and was thinking he came along for the ride. Any info would help. Thanks.
Signature: Jay Miles

Ant

Dear Jay,
This is certainly an Ant, and it resembles the invasive, exotic Argentine Ant.  Here is a BugGuide image of Argentine Ants.  We find it really hard to believe that anyone living in Southern California, especially someone who works with plants outdoors, has never seen Argentine Ants.  How large is it?  Was it alone?

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Subject: Unknown bug
Location: Gainesville, FL
December 13, 2016 9:34 am
I found this swarm of little bugs after trying to watery cactus. There’s was thousands of them! All over the cactus! I don’t know what they are. Can you help? They were livingin the soul and carrying either eggs or larvae when I disturbed them.
Signature: Trevor Forrest

Booklice

Booklice or Ghost Ants

Dear Trevor,
The behavior you describe, “carrying either eggs or larvae when I disturbed them”, implies they are social insects like Ants, but the image you provided appears more like Booklice in the genus
Liposcelis which is pictured on BugGuide.  Alas, two of your attached images are too blurry to ascertain any details, and the third image does not provide a large enough view to be certain.  According to BugGuide, Booklice are found:  “worldwide and across NA; many spp. are now nearly cosmopolitan or otherwise widely spread through agency of man, mostly with stored products(” and their habitat is “under bark, in ant nests, in homes” which makes sense based on your account.  Booklice are considered benign unless they are plentiful enough to present a nuisance, or if they infest stored food products.  Since you seem pretty certain they were transporting eggs and larvae, we suspect they are most likely Ghost Ants, Tapinoma melanocephalum, which are also pictured on BugGuide and according to BugGuide:  “native to the Old World tropics, adventive elsewhere; in our area, established in FL (expanding) and reached TX in mid-1990s (prob. through Galveston on a shipment of plants from FL); infestations reported in many areas as far north as MB, but in cooler areas the ant can only survive indoors (greenhouses, etc.)”  We would favor the Ghost Ant ID.  If you get better images, please submit them.  Because we will be away from the office during the holidays, we are postdating your submission to go live at the end of the month.

Booklice

Booklice or Ghost Ants

Thank you for the info. I’m not quite sure they are either. I tried to get better pictures,  but they were moving really fast and everything came out blurry. I looked now and they are all back from where they came in the soil of the cactus. They did leave behind a bunch tiny white balls on the surface though.

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Subject: Flying bug from rwanda
Location: Kigali, rwanda
December 7, 2016 4:31 am
Hi,
I curious what this is. It was attracted to light and seemed to lose their ability to fly.
I understand some locals eat it and call it inanani, but I can’t find anything online about it.
Signature: Mcat

Sausage Fly

Sausage Fly

Dear Mcat,
This interesting creature is a Sausage Fly, a male Driver Ant in the genus
Dorylus.  We have a lengthy explanation about it in this Sausage Fly posting from our archives.  According to Myrmecos:  “Most people who see Africa’s ‘sausage flies’ wouldn’t pick that they are actually ants. In fact, these monstrous insects are males of the common Dorylus driver ants. They fly at night to gain a chance to mate with a queen from another colony.”  We could not locate any information on “inanani” but we are really appreciative that you informed us they are eaten by locals.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: a recording of the voice of a leafcutter ant
Location: Eagle Pass, TX
September 18, 2016 1:27 pm
Dear bugman,
Years ago I caught a very large leafcutter soldier ant, and temporarily put her inside a tiny transparent plastic box for an SD card. The box was barely big enough for the enormous ant, so small that if you pressed your finger down on the box, it would cause discomfort to the ant. I noticed what seemed to be noise coming from the ant when it experienced this discomfort, so I got a digital microphone and set it over the edge of the SD card box (so that the stronger edge would support its weight and not press on the ant), then squeezed the ant a little bit with my finger, just enough to get a reaction (I am sorry, but I did it for science, the ant was not harmed at all but it did go through an annoying time for a few seconds). I converted the recording to an mp3, which you can download below. I thought you might be interested in hearing this. I had no idea ants had a voice!
http://img.2yr.net/leafcutter_ant.mp3
Signature: Humberto

Texas Leaf Cutting Ant

Texas Leaf Cutting Ant

Dear Humberto,
Thanks for sending in both your excellent images of a Texas Leaf Cutting Ant or Leafcutter Ant,
Atta texana, as well as your marvelous sound recording.  According to BugGuide:  “In Texas these ants damage weeds, grasses, plum and peach trees, blackberry bushes and many other fruit, nut and ornamental plants as well as several cereal and forage crops. The ants do not eat the leaf fragments they collect, but take them into their underground nest where they use the material to raise a fungus garden. As the fungus grows, certain parts of it are eaten by the ants and fed to the larvae. This fungus is their only known source of food.  Leaf cutting ants will attack pine trees but ordinarily they do little damage when other green plants are available. During the winter when green plant material is scarce, seedling pines are frequently damaged in parts of east Texas and west central Louisiana. Where ants are abundant, it is almost impossible to establish natural pine reproduction. In such sites, young pine seedlings often are destroyed within a few days unless the ants are controlled before planting.”

Texas Leaf Cutting Ant

Texas Leaf Cutting Ant

Thank you, Mr. Marlos! I am happy to contribute the images and audio to your website. J
Cheers!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination