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.

Red wood ants at work, video


This video shows two worker red wood ants.

One of them licks fluid from between the moss and transfers it to the other ant.

Danielle Hagenbeek from the Netherlands made this video.

Ants have been domesticating cultivated crops for 50 million years, research reveals: here.

Ants build a city, video


This video from the Netherlands says about itself (translated):

September 11 2015

Swarming ants in an anthill and busy city life are often compared. But in Rotterdam they made a very special example of that. Designer Lucas Zoutendijk of Bureau 1:1 made for the Architecture Day an ant city of sand in the shape of the map of Rotterdam. 1300 ants have been living there since some weeks ago. The Spanish ants immediately began construction of their ideal city.

Ants’ self-medication, new research


This video says about itself:

Leaf-Cutter Ants Biology 1210 – 2014

2 April 2014

Why do Leaf-Cutter Ants Make Good Farmers?

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ants are able to ‘self-medicate‘ by changing diet when they are unwell in first for insect-kind

Findings of study raise questions over how ants ‘know’ they are sick

Jessica Staufenberg

Saturday 22 August 2015

It appears that ants, usually seen as the ultimate self-sacrificing workers, are also not bad at saving their own skins.

Scientists have shown that ants with a life-threatening fungus are able to “self-medicate”, eating a normally harmful substance that treats the condition.

This form of “self-medication” in insects has been suspected in research circles but has never been proven until now, raising questions about how the ant “knows” it is sick.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland showed that ants infected with the fungus Beauveria bassiana would choose to eat small doses of hydrogen peroxide, which had been proven to reduce their deaths by at least 15 per cent.

The fact that most healthy ants gave the poison a wide berth – since it usually caused a 20 per cent mortality rate – appeared to show that sick ants knew the poison would help them recover.

Depending on how strong the toxic solution was, the infected ants would also either choose to eat the poison as often as normal food, or only a quarter of the time, showing they were “careful” about their selecting their doses.

Nick Bos, one of the researchers, said ants close to death in the wild also seem to know because they often leave the nest to die in isolation.

“It is not known yet how ants know they are infected, but it’s very clear that they do somehow change their behaviour once they are,” he told the New Scientist.

Jessica Abbott of Lund University in Sweden, said the study stood up to scientific scrutiny.

“I think this is good evidence of self-medication,” she told the New Scientist. “They showed that the ants deliberately ingest hydrogen peroxide when infected – and that doing so increases the survival of the ant and decreases the fitness of the parasite.”

The chemicals found in hydrogen peroxide are also present in aphids and decaying dead ants, leading the Finnish team to say ants in the wild may eat these to fight off infection.

David Baracchi of Queen University of London said that social insects in large colonies like ants and bees are vulnerable to disease, and a small percentage increase in survival rates against infection could make a huge difference to a colony.

“It is natural that they have evolved amazing mechanisms to counteract microorganisms, and self-medication is one of those,” said Baracchi. He added it may be a widespread ability in the animal kingdom (a similar phenomenon has already been found in sheep).

This new study was published here.

Why are these ants circling an iPhone?

Ants transporting dead beetle, video


This video is about ants transporting a dead beetle on a sidewalk in the Netherlands, while meeting obstacles.

Everdien van der Bijl made this video.

Ants attack dragonfly, video


In this 16 June 2015 video, wood ants attack a four-spotted chaser dragonfly which had just metamorphosed from the larval stage.

Warden Erik Bloeming of the Bargerveen nature reserve in Drenthe province in the Netherlands made this video. See also here.