Fijian ants as agriculturists


This video says about itself:

27 November 2016

Scientists on the island of Fiji have discovered a type of ant that plants, fertilizes & guards its own coffee crops. The ant, known as “Phildris nagasau” has been perfecting this practice for millions of years. The ants reportedly don’t just harvest the nectar from the plants, they also use the coffee plants as a place to live. According to the scientists, this is the first ant to build its own home. In an experiment, researchers discovered that the ants plant six different types of coffee plant in the bark of jungle trees.

From Nature:

Obligate plant farming by a specialized ant

Guillaume Chomicki & Susanne S. Renner

21 November 2016

Abstract

Many epiphytic plants have associated with ants to gain nutrients. Here, we report a novel type of ant–plant symbiosis in Fiji where one ant species actively and exclusively plants the seeds and fertilizes the seedlings of six species of Squamellaria (Rubiaceae). Comparison with related facultative ant plants suggests that such farming plays a key role in mutualism stability by mitigating the critical re-establishment step.

Blackbird uses ants against parasites


In this 17 November 2016 video, a blackbird uses ants and their formic acid against parasites.

Harry ten Veen in the Netherlands made this video.

Ants cooperating to get piece of bread into their nest


This 6 June 2016 video shows ants cooperating to get a (for ants) big piece of bread through the narrow entrance of their colony.

The video is by mmjiskoot in the Netherlands.

Mediterranean ants, new in the Netherlands


This 7 June 2016 video from the Netherlands shows a nest of Tapinoma nigerrimum ants; at 23 sec: milking of a coccid, at 1.09: male.

Translated from the Dutch entomologists of EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten:

30 May 2016 – In Wageningen a large colony has been found of Tapinoma nigerrimum ants, a species not previously seen in our country …

The colony of Tapinoma nigerrimum in Wageningen is located under a sidewalk and the adjacent walls of gardens. The species has all the characteristics which other invasive ants have. They are resistant to disruption and may thereby live close to humans, which may lead to towage to other areas.

In addition, there are a lot of egg-laying queens that can live together in a colony, and there is no aggression among workers who have descended from several queens. This enables them to achieve significant local densities, creating a super colony. The colony is found over a length of more than 120 meters!

Strong ant, video


This 26 April 2016 shows an ant, strong enough to transport a big prey.

MarijkeS from the Netherlands made this video.

Rare cornfield ants near Dutch Maastricht


This video from the USA is called Cornfield Ants, Lasius alienus, Social Behavior and Dispersal.

Translated from Stichting Bargerveen in the Netherlands:

Jan 28, 2016 – In the Netherlands cornfield ants are very rare inhabitants of calcareous grasslands. Last summer, the species was found by employees of Foundation Bargerveen on the Sint-Pietersberg [Mount Saint Peter; mountain near Maastricht]. Is the modification of vegetation by mowing and grazing here now bearing fruit?

Rare species

The cornfield ant (Lasius alienus) is a very rare species in South Limburg. Until 2004, the species was only known from the Bemelerberg hill. During research into the effects of grazing in the Popelmondedal valley, the southern slope of Mount St. Peter in Maastricht in 2015 by Stichting Bargerveen effects on ants were also examined. Great was the surprise when during the identifications of the catches this winter several cornfield ants were found. This species was totally absent in the intensive monitoring of the Popelmondedal in 2006 and except for an unconfirmed catch from 2012 this typical calcareous grassland species had never been previously reported from Mount St. Peter.

Eocene fossil ant discovery in Montana, USA


Crematogaster aurora queen. This specimen is the oldest known species in its genus

From Smithsonian Science News in the USA:

New Montana ant species emerge from 46-million-year-old rock

By John Barrat

8 January 2016

She was a stunning brown queen; drowned some 46 million years ago in a shallow lake in Montana. Her remains, recently recovered along the Flathead River, consist of a shadowy silhouette pressed upon a piece of reddish brown shale. Named Crematogaster aurora, this winged female ant is the only known member of her species. Her discovery is raising eyebrows among scientists who study ants.

“Molecular data from living ants suggested that the genus Crematogaster had evolved more recently,” explains Dale Greenwalt, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “Now, this 46-million-year-old specimen is requiring scientists to completely rethink when this genus and its related forms appeared. It is obvious it has been around much longer than previously calculated.”

Crematogaster aurora is one of 12 new prehistoric ant species discovered in Kishenehn Formation shale in northwestern Montana by Greenwalt. They are newly described and named in a paper in the journal Sociobiology by Greenwalt and ant expert J.S. LaPolla of Towson University in Maryland. All 12 represent species new to science, known only from the locality in Montana. All are long extinct yet some represent genera that still exist.

These Kishenehn fossils are from the middle Eocene (46 million years ago), a period of great interest for understanding the “evolution of ants and in particular, their march to terrestrial dominance,” the researchers say. It was during the Eocene that many of today’s ecologically dominant and species rich ant families emerged.

Factors that led to this diversification included the evolution and appearance of many new species of flowering plants, as well as high temperatures—in the early Eocene it was as much as 15 degrees C. warmer worldwide than it is today. “A lot of people also think the meteorite that caused the disappearance of the dinosaurs and ended the Cretaceous kind of reset the table for a lot of new things to evolve and diversify,” Greenwalt adds. “This maybe what happened with the ants.”

While LaPolla and Greenwalt name 12 new fossil species in their paper, the specimens are from a much larger pool of 249 ant fossils examined for the study. The majority of the ants discovered are alates, “which are simply winged forms of the ants,” Greenwalt says. “Workers and soldiers don’t have wings and pretty much stayed on land.”

The alates were able to fly over the lake that formed the Kishenehn shale and many of them fell into the water and ended up on the bottom. Almost all of the fossil ants in the Kishenehn are winged, many of them queens.

By comparing Kishenehn ant species and genera with other North American Eocene fossil deposits such as the Green River Deposit along the Green River in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah (48 million years old) and the Florissant Formation in Colorado (34 million years old) scientists can gradually piece together the abundance and distribution of North American ants during this period.

What can the Eocene epoch teach us about today’s global warming? Here.