Monday, May 19, 2008

Army ants, continued

"Like termites, ants are everywhere in the Amazon. In my opinion, fire ants are the most difficult to deal with because they like to take up residence around man. They are tiny, but make up the difference in numbers and aggressiveness. I have read of entire villages having to move to get a way from them. Army ants are the most interesting because of their carnivorous and nomadic ways. One of my most exciting finds at Bosque Santa Lúcia was a colony of army ants bivouacking under the roof of our roundhouse. It is normal for them to find temporary housing for the night, but this particular stop lasted for several days, while the queen laid her eggs. Curious as to what was happening inside the ball of ants (they actually maintain the rigidity of the sphere by grasping on to one anther), I inserted a machete into it one day. To my surprise, eggs poured out of the live nest as though it were a container of milk. Within a few hours the ants picked up all the displaced eggs and returned them to the nest. Just to end the story, I was back at the roundhouse a few days later to find the ants gone. The only sign of the rendezvous was a pile of what appeared to be empty rice hulls on the floor—the left over eggshells." From my book, Santarém - Riverboat Town

1 comment:

Sandpiper said...

How interesting that they picked them and put them all back.