Montana Public Radio

ants

How Do Ants Keep Warm In Winter?

Feb 9, 2020
red wood ant mound
Thue (PD)

On a recent stroll around a local bird refuge, I was struck by the appearance of a large ants’ nest, covered with a thatch of pine needles. The type of ants who construct these nests are called “mound builders,” and this particular mound was made by red wood ants. What do they do to survive the cold, I wondered?

iStock

There is an ant and she is next to my foot, dragging a fly up the same hill that I have just stopped trying to drag myself up.  All worker ants are females and this particular female has a black fly in her mandibles, but she’s having a hard time keeping it there because she is negotiating her way backwards through lichen, and the uncooperative (i.e., dead) fly keeps getting hung up.

Bug Bytes: Aphid Ranchers

Jul 1, 2019
Ants tending to their aphid herd.
Missoula Insectarium

If you’ve ever noticed a group of ants milling about on a leaf or the stem of a plant and wondered why, take a closer look. You might only be seeing half of what’s going on.

While they lack pickup trucks, fencing pliers, and other tools of the trade of their human counterparts, these ants are likely ranchers. But instead of cows, they’re carefully tending their herd of aphids.

Bug Bytes: When 'Follow The Leader' Turns Deadly

Jun 3, 2019
Army ants with larvae of a raided wasp nest.
Geoff Gallice [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

There are many games you probably played as a child. Games that for all intents and purposes were innocent and safe. But who would imagine that a game of “follow the leader” could be deadly?

It certainly can be for army ants. In fact, it can actually result in the death of the entire swarm.