Saturday, June 30, 2012
A subterranean ant in Florida
I took this picture in a rosemary bald scrub after a rainy night. There were quite a few scattered about in the sand. I contacted the esteemed entomologist and scrub ant expert Mark Deyrup and this was his answer.
"This is the temporary anthill of a completely subterranean ant, Solenopsis pergandei. These structures are made during the night after a heavy rain to provide an exit for young flying queens and males that emerge while it is still dark, and form mating swarms. Each queen then drops to the ground in an open sandy area, sheds her wings, and burrows into the ground in an attempt to start a new colony. Males do not dig into the ground, and probably die the following day. Emergences of ants while it is still dark provide a feast for nighthawks, which can be seen flying low to scoop up flying ants in the early morning."