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Cryptopod: Banded Ant

I’ve always liked ants. We had a whole civilization of little black ants with tiny anthills in Flagstaff. We used to draw subdivisions and roads around the heaps. The red ants weren’t quite so fun, considering how bad they hurt when they stung, but they were still fascinating to watch. The only ones we ran from were the army ants. That was a whole other level of hurt.

Ants up here in the Pacific Northwest, west of the Cascades, seem like a very mellow bunch. They’re also fairly large in comparison to the Arizona ones. This fat fellow was lounging around Juanita Bay a few Junes ago, and was kind enough to pause for a photo op.

Cryptopod I

Cryptopod I

I wonder what their colonies look like in our damp soils, or if they just live in dead trees. I know nothing about them.

 

Cryptopod II

Cryptopod II

They’re not as dramatic as some other insects, but they’re still quite lovely. I mean, look at the shiny bands and little hairs on this one’s rear. Look at the amber-hued legs, and the coal black head and thorax or whatever that middle bit is. It’s understated, but lovely.

 

Cryptopod III

Cryptopod III

And against the silver-gray wood of the boardwalk rail, with the wetlands in the background, it’s a perfect bit of nature.

Cryptopod IV

Cryptopod IV

This is very Zen, this moment, with the ant looking like it’s meditating on the wetland. It also gives me an XKCD feel. I’m not sure why. Just something in the way it’s standing there.

Remarkable little critters. I hope one of you knows which species this is, so we can discover its story.

Comments

  1. rq says

    I think it’s just yer reglar ol’ black carpenter ant.
    I think the bands on the abdomen (third body segment of an insect, thus its ‘rear’ as you put it so cutely :D) are where the chitin shells overlaps some (like plates) to form a slightly flexible surface.
    But yes, a fine specimen of an ant.

  2. says

    I always wanted to write a sci-fi story, except that I can’t write fiction to save my life.

    The short form is: aliens come visit earth. They’re pretty advanced technologically and they’re cautious enough to observe from a distance for a good long while. Finally there’s a meeting, “should we land?” and going around the table, everyone is in favor of it until one of the life sciences researcher-aliens puts up a photo of an ant. “This is an ‘ant’. They comprise a huge amount of the life on earth. They are ruthless, stupid, nearly indestructible in numbers, and cannot be negotiated with. If they get on our ship, I recommend we sterilize ourselves by flying into the sun.” The decision is made to use the black hole gun on earth, and the aliens leave once the task is completed.

    • rq says

      But ants aren’t the dangerous ones, ants are kinda cool. Clearly, they should have a similar conversation about mosquitos. Because mosquitos… Need I say ‘vector’?

  3. jane says

    Those darn guys are eating my garage leaving sawdust piles all over the place. I actually like ants a lot. Just not when they’re chewing up the real estate.

  4. Crudely Wrott says

    Jane, two things:

    1) Diatomaceous Earth. Literally, the teensy little skelekons of ancient diatoms; otherwise known as teensy little shards of glass. Get some at your farm and garden store and follow label instructions. See, the little pointy bits are small enough to wedge into the little spaces between their parts and, well, itch like crazy. Makes ‘em go away.

    2) Boric acid. Available at the same place you get 1). Follow label instructions. Lots of ants like it. Foraging ants collect it and take it home to feed to their queen. She likes it too. ‘Cept it’s poison. Slow poison, That’s OK since a generation to them is like less than a month to you and I. Kill the queen, kill the colony.

    Both of these remedies, while no more labor intensive on your part than constantly applying poisonous concoctions like nicitinoids and stuff, have minimal bykill, that is, collateral damage. Meaning that you don’t kill all the other bugs that do good stuff while you are killing the bad bugs that are eating your garage.

    Hop this helps.

    • jane says

      Thanks CW. I always like ideas that seem fairly benign since I’ve got some animals. I’ll head to the local nursery and get one or the other or both.