Currently viewing the category: "Ants"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Invasive Argentine Ants
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
August 27, 2016
Dating back to our relocation to Los Angeles in 1980, the editorial staff of What’s That Bug? has been plagued by colonies of invasive Argentine Ants, Iridomyrmex humilis.  If we had the time to devote ourselves to the elimination of one invasive species in California, it would be the Argentine Ant.  They are a pervasive pest species that we have always believed are the same Ants that play such an important role in the magnificent 20th Century novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez when they carry off a newborn baby.  Argentine Ants are most troublesome in the summer, during the hottest days when they enter homes to find water, but swarm around cat food, any sweets or fatty foods left out, or any dead bugs that ended their lives as cat toys.  We believe they are one of the biggest threats to native species wherever they proliferate.  According to Clemson University:  “Argentine ants are not native to the United States.  They were introduced to the US probably on coffee ships from Brazil and Argentina through the port of New Orleans sometime before 1891. They spread rapidly on commercial shipments of plants and other materials.  Now Argentine ants are found throughout most of the southern states and California, with isolated infestations in a few other areas.  Argentine ants have been very successful.  They are common in urban areas and can nest in diverse types of habitats. They can produce large numbers of offspring and survive on a wide variety of food. They often live on friendly terms with other neighboring colonies of the same species, but may eliminate some other ant species.”  Argentine Ants farm Aphids and move them from plant to plant.  We have also found Argentine Ants associated with other pestiferous Hemipterans that secrete honeydew.  We would love to hear any control methods our readers can provide.  Wayne’s Word also has some interesting information, including:  “Best Method Of Argentine Ant Eradication  Place outdoor ant bait stations such as Terro® along major ant trails in your yard. This is probably better than using insecticidal sprays. Smaller, indoor bait stations are also effective placed along ant trails in your home (out of the reach of children and pets). The active ingredients of Terro® is 5.40 percent sodium tetraborate decahydrate (Borax) which is lethal to ants. This salt upsets their digestive system and causes death due to dehydration and starvation. According to Jonathan Hatch (“How to Get Rid of Argentine Ants” ), dehydration and recrystallization of the ‘boric acic’ (borax?) lacerates the digestive system of ants and their larvae. There are many recipes on the Internet that include mixing borax with a sugary solution. Terro bait stations contain this mixture in convenient disposable plastic trays. It is important for the ants to carry the liquid back to their nest. Borax recipes only contain about 5 percent borax so that ants are not killed immediately. One tablespoon of borax in a cup of water is approximately a 5% solution. You must be patient–this treatment may take several days to a week. In fact, you may need to replenish you bait stations! Some websites state that boric acid is a more effective ant insecticide, but this is debatable. Boric acid is made by reacting borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) with an inorganic acid, such as hydrochloric acid (HCl).”

Argentine Ants eat Orbweaver

Argentine Ants eat Orbweaver

WE cannot say for certain if the Argentine Ants played a role in the death of this Orbweaver, but since Orbweavers are somewhat helpless when they are not in their webs, it is possible that this large spider was overcome by marauding Argentine Ants and killed.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Mating Leaf-Cutter Ants
Location:  Tucson, Arizona
August 2, 2016
And Daniel, since you don’t follow me on Facebook, I thought you’d enjoy this little video and photo of Arizona leaf-cutter ants (Acromyrmex versicolor) swarming and mating in my yard yesterday.
Julian

Mating Leaf-Cutter Ants

Mating Leaf-Cutter Ants

Thanks for the great image Julian.  According to BugGuide:  “The ants cut and collected both dry and green vegetation with dry grasses comprising the bulk of the forage. The ants increased their cutting of green vegetation after significant rainfall but collected dry grasses almost exclusively during dry periods.” 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bullet Ant
Location: La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica
July 23, 2016 12:14 am
Hi Bugman,
Thank you so much for your speedy identification of my robber fly. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to get a species ID (especially without the specimen itself and with only one photo) but it’s great knowing the order. Here is the bullet ant (Paraponera clavata) photo I mentioned before, also taken with my Canon macro lens. It was a difficult shot to get as these ants are constantly on the move. I am also submitting (separately) photos of a Weevil found in Monteverde and what I suspect to be a caterpillar in the genus Eumorpha.
Signature: Casey

Bullet Ant

Bullet Ant

Dear Casey,
We have one image of a Bullet Ant from Ecuador in our archive, and at that time we did some research to learn more about
Paraponera clavata.  Your backlit image is really beautiful. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Update:  June 17, 2016
We’re Back.

Subject:  We’re posting this image of a dead Ten Lined June Beetle being devoured by Argentine Ants and leaving town
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California

June 8, 2016 1:08 AM
Upon leaving the house this afternoon, we moved the garbage to the curb and discovered this dead Ten Lined June Beetle under the recycle bin.  We placed it on the fence so we could take an image upon returning.  Since it was dark, we needed to use the flash.  The beetle is being devoured by invasive Argentine Ants.  This is only the second Ten Lined June Beetle we have found in Mount Washington, and it is just shy of a year ago that we had the first Ten Lined June Beetle visit our office.  This is most likely our last posting prior to taking a week long holiday, during which time we will not be answering any identification requests.  We have postdated numerous submissions to go live during our absence.  We will return in mid-June, so kindly hold your requests until after June 17.

Ten Lined June Beetle devoured by Argentine Ants

Ten Lined June Beetle devoured by Argentine Ants

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: These aren’t salamanders!
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
April 25, 2016 9:32 am
Hi BugMan,
I was recently on a salamander hunt in an urban forest environment when I came across the following nest under a rock. I leaned in close and was surprised to see that the round white ones had legs (and antennae) and were not just larvae as I had thought. I’ve included two photos: the first being the overall view of the hole beneath the rock and the second a closer view of the larvae (?).
We’ve had some issues in the recent past in the Halifax region in Nova Scotia with fire ants creeping up and I thought I may have come across one of their nests while in the woods (“woods” used very loosely as I can see houses if I squint and hear the highway in close proximity). After spending awhile searching through the life cycles of various ant types, I then wondered if perhaps I had happened across ants feeding upon the larvae of another insect. I’m hoping you’re able to clear up my my confusion, but in the meantime I’ll keep searching – maybe the actual paper insect ID book might be helpful.
If it makes any difference, the area where I found the nest is a few metres away from a small area of wetland and we have had a relatively mild winter so there was not a lot of snow melt.
Signature: NatureGirl

Citronella Ants tend Root Aphids

Citronella Ants tend Root Aphids

Dear NatureGirl,
You have happened across Ants, but instead of “feeding upon the larvae of another insect” they are harvesting honeydew from Aphids.  We did not recognize either your yellow ants or the white Aphids, so we searched on the web and quickly found the Cornell blog New York State IPM Program and a posting of Citronella Ants caring for or tending Root Aphids.  The site states:  “The life and habits of citronella ants aren’t well-studied, but they do have one fascinating trait. They tend herds of underground aphids, known as root aphids as if they were cattle, and harvesting sweet honeydew excreted by the sap-loving aphids. Root aphids feed on the roots of shrubs and plants.”  Additional images and information can be found on Wild About Ants, Scientific American and BugGuide.  

Citronella Ants tend Root Aphids

Citronella Ants tend Root Aphids

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Sawfly or ant drone?
Location: Brazos County, Texas, USA
March 27, 2016 4:37 pm
Hello! I had asked Texas A&M as well but I’ll ask here as well. We did a catch-and-release of what looked like a sawfly last night (well, failed release because the door was still open and it flew back into the light, so we’re still checking the house for a body).
My stepfather is still moving his own photos and videos off his cameras, but the jaws seem to match a sawfly, the eyes seemed proportionately large, and the thorax was prominently hunched. I compared to other photos I saw of sawflies, but the abdomen was longer. It was maybe an inch and a half long.
A&M agreed that it looked like a sawfly, so we narrowed down our own image searches for an exact match; but when we did happen to find an exact match, the page did not say “sawfly,” it said “red driver ant.” We looked that insect up, and it did indeed match the dorylus drone perfectly… except, that’s an African army ant… so now I’m really hoping we didn’t just catch and release evidence of an invasive species.
Any input you have will be greatly appreciated, and if you respond, I’ll try to send you the macros from my stepfather as soon as possible.
Signature: M. Sidney Beal

Legionary Ant

Legionary Ant

Dear M. Sidney Beal,
Please forgive us the long delay.  Our tiny staff cannot answer all the mail we receive and we are currently going through older identification requests for interesting postings, and your posting has us quite excited.  We are also struck by the resemblance to the Middle Eastern Sausage Fly, a male Driver Ant in the genus
Dorylus.  Searching that lead, we believe this is a male Legionary Ant in the genus Neivamyrmex, based on this and other images posted to BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, Legionary Ants and other Army Ants in the Tribe Ecitonini have “huge, wingless queens and wasplike males unlike those of any other ants.”  We would not discount that it is another member of the family, but the Legionary Ants seem to be the most common.

This is actually great timing! My suspicions were right that it died inside the house, and my stepfather just today found the body. Minus one antenna, it seems to be otherwise intact, and we now have it in a jar for safekeeping. When we have new photos taken, I’ll forward any my family sends me.
After I last responded to A&M, their ant expert also seemed to agree that it’s most likey a neivamyrmex. Thank you for responding.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination