Subject: Red Harvester Ants?
Geographic location of the bug: Stephenville, TX
Time: 01:34 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman —
Hello! I hope you are both well!
I see that you’ve discovered a harvester ant colony, that’s awesome. I also discovered what I believe to be a red-harvester-ant colony in north Texas, in mid May 2018. Alas, the ant bed is located on the edge of a playground, not good. Warm, windy, dry weather. I found a reference: https://texasinsects.tamu.edu/
I was intrigued by the ants’ use of wood; are they actually shoring up their tunnels, like tiny miners reinforcing their mine? One ant carried what looked like a bird dropping. Mysterious creatures, sadly they are increasingly rare here.
How you want your letter signed: Ellen
Are you the very same Ellen with the great garden in Coryell County? Alas, that great garden that attracts so many native insects does require irrigation, and you will not find Harvester Ants in areas with irrigation. Daniel has known about the colony of California Harvester Ants several vacant lots away from the WTB? offices since 1995, even before WTB? was a column in the photocopied zine American Homebody, during the time Daniel was renting a house across from the vacant lots. At that time there were many more vacant lots and the Ants were often found foraging in the road, but as available housing in Los Angeles becomes more difficult to find, more and more previously unbuildable lots are being developed, and with development comes irrigation. With irrigation come the invasive Argentine Ants that need the water, and much like gentrification, the Argentine Ants will force out the previous inhabitants, including the California Harvester Ants which are drought tolerant. That is why Harvester Ants are rare in urban environments that lack natural open space. Daniel has decided to try to get the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to purchase some of those vacant lots just to preserve the Harvester Ant colony along with other creatures that will most likely not survive additional development with landscaping. Your images are wonderful. We hope some bug-phobic parents don’t insist that the colony be exterminated because of a child being stung by a Harvester Ant near the playground. We believe Harvester Ants do blockade their tunnels during the rainy season.