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Archive for April, 2008

For all of us who are unsure if the ant we have in hand is the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile or not, Alex Wild gives us a clear idea of what to look for. Even if you do not have this ant in your hand or where you come from (lucky you!), give it a read to see its distribution and key morphological features.

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Lighting plays a crucial role in making an picture look presentable both technically and aesthetically. So what if the animal is nocturnal and hates light but is loved by the camera??
Here is a ant called Rhytidoponera which I found while I was at Nadgee nature reserve, a few kilometers south of Eden on the east coast of Australia. I found a nest of these ants so close to where my tent was pitched that I could watch them by actually lying down on the sleeping mat with half of me jutting outside the tent! One of those days, by late in the evening, after finishing off some experiments with solitary wasps, I set up the sleeping mat, flicked on the torch and lay there watching these fellows go about their work. They became active just before sunset and continued activity all through the night, till sunrise. They regularly returned to the nest with dead insects. I tried taking some pictures but with light levels being very low, it was proving to be a challenge. The twin lite flash I use comes with a lamp but the light was just too bright and almost always scared the ants away. So after having taken pictures for a couple of hours with no luck, I gave up and decided that just watching them may be a better option. Soon I realised that I could predict where an ant returning to its nest would be say after 5 secs. I decided to see if this would allow me to take some pictures which meant clicking in completing darkness. It turned out that in a matter of 30 mins I actually had a few nice pictures [see one below]. A gentle drizzle in the night led to a rain drop on the ant also being captured.
More and some new images of Rhytidoponera here.
A Rhytidoponera species returns to its nest carrying parts of a bull ant, Myrmecia pyriformis.
Photographed at 0215 hrs; Nadgee Nature Reserve, NSW, Australia

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