Group recruitment in golden tail sugar ant

Group recruitment in golden tail sugar ant


Hey I have finally been able to take a video
of my favorite behavior of one of my favorite ant species that you can find here in Australia
in Sydney its name is Camponotus aeneopilosus also known as the Golden tail sugar ant. And you can see on this video that there is
one first ant a small one that is leading a group of workers, so if you count there
are about seven workers only following that first ant the ant leading that group is called
a scout. It forages quite randomely around the nest
and as soon as it finds something it comes back straight to the nest, start bumping into
other workers, and when it feels that other workers are motivated to join her on a new
trip to the food source it stats running away from the nest leaving a very light pheromone
trail that does not last long behind, and the other workers try to follow that scout
using visual informations, so by looking at this ant and using of course the light pheromone
trails that the first worker leaves behind. This behavior is very interesting and it allows
these ants to recruit other foragers very very quickly which is of course very useful
when the resources are scarce. Another advantage of this technique of recruitment
is that by not leaving strong pheromone trails behind them, the other ants cannot use the
trails left by this species to find the same food source. Of course it sometimes happens that the leader
loose a few workers on the way, but they are able to go to the food source very quickly
and that is the essential part for the colony, so it is not such a big loss. In that case, the food source was not very
glamorous, sorry about that, it was hum… bird droppings. It is a quite common food source for ants. As you can see on this video the Camponotus
were not the first one on that food source and you can see the small black ants that
are everywhere here. They are probably Iridomyrmex or Tapinoma
ants. They are very very efficient foragers, which
also explains why it is important for ants like Camponotus to find ways to recruit other
workers very quickly. Thank you for watching I hope you enjoyed
this video.

Ranger Nick: Why So Many Ant Mounds Right Now?

Ranger Nick: Why So Many Ant Mounds Right Now?


[Upbeat Music]
[Dr. Nick Fuhrman/UGA Professor, “Ranger Nick”] Well as we start this new year off, maybe
the holidays have you driving around maybe across the interstate looking out across some
farm pastures and seeing what look like little mounds of soil, maybe fire ant mounds, and
it had you wondering, “Why am I seeing more of them right now? What is the deal with that?” I thought I’d explore that with you this month
and introduce you to somebody who knows quite a bit about this, and that’s Dr. Will Hudson. Dr. Hudson, so nice to meet you. [Dr. Hudson]
Good to see you Nick [Ranger Nick]
I appreciate you spending some time with us today. I want to talk about fire ants, and I want
to talk specifically about a particular mound that we’re standing in front of today. I often see that maybe after a rain at night
or after the temperatures have been maybe a little cooler, I’ll walk out in my yard
and find fire ant mounds that were not there a day or two ago, and I think that maybe I’m
just seeing things. What is the deal with that? Why are we seeing more of those like this
one after a rain at night, after a cooler night? Why is that? [Dr. Will Hudson/UGA Professor of Entomology]
Well, particularly if the conditions have been real hot and dry before that, the rain
provides the ants with the perfect conditions to rebuild their mound. The colony’s always been there, well not always,
but it was there before. [Ranger Nick]
Oh, okay. [Dr. Hudson]
The dirt that you see suddenly pop up is just the dirt that they moved out of the tunnels
and the chambers that are underground where they live, and that’s why suddenly they have
a mound built that wasn’t apparent to you before. The colony itself has been there for months. [Ranger Nick]
Under the soil. [Dr. Hudson]
Under the soil. [Ranger Nick]
I can’t see them, okay. [Dr. Hudson]
They had a mound, but then either they got rained on, or it got stepped on, or it got
so dry that the soil wouldn’t hold its structure, and as soon as the soil conditions are right
they can build that mound back up. [Ranger Nick]
Interesting. And sometimes in South Georgia or the southeast
where there’s more sandy soils, maybe those mounds aren’t as high I guess because the
clumping ability of that soil is not there. [Dr. Hudson]
Right, you can pile clay up higher than you can pile sand. [Ranger Nick]
Yeah. [Dr. Hudson]
That’s the bottom line on that. [Ranger Nick]
Now let’s look at, if you don’t mind, let’s look at this one together. And I just happen to have my son’s little
shovel with me today. Here’s this mound. I’m noticing in this mound all of these little
particles of sand and clay are the same size. You’re saying, thinking to us, that they are
pushing these particles up out of the ground after it rains. They’re cleaning out what has washed down. Is that what you’re saying? [Dr. Hudson]
Right, and they’re not pushing, they’re carrying them one at a time in their jaws. They’ve got no other, they’ve got no pockets,
so they’re carrying them one at a time up there. [Ranger Nick]
Yeah and this, and I can kind of see some holes in there, and I just kind of want to
dig in and see what … and look at this, look at what we’re able to see with these
smaller holes and these tunnels. Now these guys must be down low because it’s
been cooler at night, and they’re down low getting warm. Is that what you’re saying? [Dr. Hudson]
Right, they’ll be up at the top of the mound. If it were a bright, sunny day today they
would probably be up there basking not on the outside but just inside. You can see the tunnels, all of these right
in here are places where they can come up. As the sun warms the soil, they warm up too
because they’re cold blooded. They’re trying to get to a place where the
temperature is most comfortable for them. [Ranger Nick]
Which that’s so interesting, and that dynamic of those ants under the ground, that’s what
I want to talk with you about next is going and looking at the culture of these ants. And I promise I won’t put my hand in there,
but I do want to kind of move some things around with you and see some of those areas
of work. So let’s go there next. [Ranger Nick]
Okay, so we’ve had a cooler night. We’ve had a rainy night. The mound is now showing up outside of the
ground, and I’m looking at this. And Dr. Hudson, we’re looking at this together,
I’m going to just kind of dig into this a little. Before I disturb it too much … Oh my gosh,
and the beautiful caverns. First of all, these little guys with wings,
are they ants? I’ve never seen an ant with wings. [Dr. Hudson]
Well yes. They are ants. Those are the ones that are the, what we call
reproductives. That’s the males and females that will mate. Then the new queens will start the next colony. [Ranger Nick]
Wow, so and they’re mating, but they have to fly to mate? I mean, that’s why they have the wings? [Dr. Hudson]
They fly up into the air. If you see it, it’s usually late in the afternoon,
it looks like a little plume of smoke coming up. [Ranger Nick]
Wow, okay. [Dr. Hudson]
And they mate in the air, and they fall back to the ground. Males die. [Ranger Nick]
Okay [Dr. Hudson]
The females lose their wings and go into the ground and create a small chamber, start laying
eggs, and that becomes the next colony. [Ranger Nick]
Wow, okay. [Dr. Hudson]
That why I say if you’re talking about fire ants, you need to think of it as a colony
not as individual ants. [Ranger Nick]
Interesting. So now okay, so I’m looking at this, and I
know we’re looking up close on the camera too. So we’ve got the ones with wings which we
now know are reproductive ants, but there’s other ones that are bigger, and I see one
moving a little granule of soil. Bigger ones and then there’s smaller ones. Is that an age difference, or do they have
different hierarchy in their family there, their colony? [Dr. Hudson]
Ants as all insects, once they become adults they don’t grow anymore. Their skeleton is on the outside so they can’t
grow anymore, so. [Ranger Nick]
I’ve got to do this. Sorry, I just have to look in here. I have to see what’s going on. [Dr. Hudson]
No, that’s fine. [Ranger Nick]
Look at this. Look at that. [Dr. Hudson]
There are different sizes of individuals. Some of that is related to the jobs that they
do in the colony, and some of it is just variation in size just as people are different sizes. [Nick]
Okay [Dr. Hudson]
So you get some variation that way. [Ranger Nick]
Interesting. Now I would have loved to have talked to some
of these ants today, Dr. Hudson, to find out their perspective on what they think of us
humans disturbing their mounds and everything, but I’ve got to tell you. With a little boy at home and a little girl
at home as well that will soon be walking, we go out in the yard, and we have a thing
of that ant spray that we buy from the local hardware store. Miles and I spray that stuff all over the
mound, and we say, “We have killed the ants.” Then a couple of days later we see them again. What are we doing wrong? [Dr. Hudson]
Well, you saw the structure of the mound. It goes a long way down into the dirt, and
if all you do is spray the surface you’re not beginning to get down to the area where
the money is. [Ranger Nick]
Yeah, yeah. [Dr. Hudson]
Which is you’ve got to kill the queen. If you don’t affect the queen, you can’t control
the colony. So you’ve got to put that insecticide, if
you’re going to treat an individual mound, you have to put it in enough water that it
carries the insecticide all the way down to the bottom of the mound where the queen is. [Ranger Nick]
And how much water are we talking? [Dr. Hudson]
At least a gallon of water per average size mound. [Ranger Nick]
Wow, okay. [Dr. Hudson]
Because there’s a lot of volume of soil in there, and you’ve got to get all the way down
through it. [Ranger Nick]
Okay. Now what if I’ve got a bigger area of land
I’m going to tackle? Maybe the bucket isn’t going to be enough. What do you do then? [Dr. Hudson]
If you’re up to, if you’re over an acre, for sure over an acre, then you need to be using
a bait. If you put it out twice a year … There used
to be a guarantee on some brands that you would have no mounds. [Ranger Nick]
Okay. [Dr. Hudson]
Right? That’s pretty good. [Ranger Nick]
All right, yeah. [Dr. Hudson]
If you’re in smaller than an acre then if you’re treating mounds individually, that’s
a thing for retired people. [Ranger Nick]
Okay….”Laughing” [Dr. Hudson]
Because you’re going to be doing that constantly, and you never win that. [Ranger Nick]
Yeah. [Dr. Hudson]
So you need to treat the whole area. [Ranger Nick]
Excellent. [Dr. Hudson]
And if you treat the whole area with a broadcast spray or spread granules out you can suppress
ants, and suppress is all you’re going to do with that sort of treatment for anywhere
from a few weeks to a couple of months. [Ranger Nick]
Interesting. [Dr. Hudson]
And that’s it. [Ranger Nick]
Well I got to tell you, I don’t know about the folks at home, I have learned so much
about what I’m doing wrong. I’ve learned so much about the culture of
the ant colony. Dr. Hudson, thanks so much for today. I so appreciate it. Such an interesting topic. I can’t wait for the folks at home to see
it. You all know what to do. When you’re at home checking things out online
maybe about fire ants in your area, hop on over to the Farm Monitor Facebook page and
check that out. While you’re on Facebook, check out the Ranger
Nick Facebook page and see what I’ve got going on in my world. Until next time, as I always say Dr. Hudson,
for the Farm Monitor I’m Ranger Nick reminding you that enthusiasm is contagious. So pass it on. You all, thanks so much for watching. We’ll see you right back here again next month. See you. [Fast paced music]

Turret Spiders Launch Sneak Attacks From Tiny Towers | Deep Look


The world is a very different place when darkness
falls. Most of us head for home … for cover. Because as the shadows creep in, they hide
things … Frightful things … What is that? That little tower? Look, there’s another one. They blend in so well. That was a California turret spider. Its lair is like the turret of a castle, rising
above the forest floor. It’s lined the inside with pearly white
silk. And coated the outside with mud, moss or leaves The turret leads down to the spider’s burrow,
that can descend six inches underground. The spider spends its days down there. As the last rays of sun die out, it rises
… to wait … motionless … Until some unsuspecting creature happens by,
like this pill bug. Every step it takes creates tiny tremors,
betraying its location. Whew! That was close. Turret spiders actually have pretty poor vision. Instead they rely on feel, bursting out in
whichever direction the vibrations seem to come from. So, sometimes they miss. They belong to group of spiders called mygalomorphs
— along with their more famous cousins: tarantulas and trap-door spiders. They pack oversized fangs that swing down
like a pair of pickaxes. They’ were hunting this way long before
spiders started building intricate aerial webs
like this orb-weaver spider. Instead, a female turret spider might live
for 16 years and never stray from her turret. She only ventures into the world for a split
second. Just long enough to drag her next victim down
to its demise. Check this out- a turret spiderling. Once it’s big enough, it’ll venture out
from their mom’s house and set out on its own. But usually not too far away. Deep Look knows what you like… more spiders! Do black widows really deserve their bad rap? And why is this spider … dancing? Leap out and hit that subscribe button and
that little notification bell – so you never miss an episode of Deep Look. See you next time.

Mating frenzies, sperm hoards, and brood raids: the life of a fire ant queen – Walter R. Tschinkel


It’s June, just after a heavy rainfall, and the sky is filling with creatures
we wouldn’t normally expect to find there. At first glance,
this might be a disturbing sight. But for the lucky males and females
of Solenopsis invicta, otherwise known as fire ants,
it’s a day of romance. This is the nuptial flight, when thousands of reproduction-capable
male and female ants, called alates,
take wing for the first and last time. But even for successful males
who manage to avoid winged predators, this mating frenzy will prove lethal. And for a successfully mated female,
her work is only beginning. Having secured a lifetime supply of sperm
from her departed mate, our new queen must now single-handedly
start an entire colony. Descending to the ground, she searches for a suitable spot
to build her nest. Ideally, she can find somewhere
with loose, easy-to-dig soil— like farmland
already disturbed by human activity. Once she finds the perfect spot,
she breaks off her wings— creating the stubs
that establish her royal status. Then, she starts digging
a descending tunnel ending in a chamber. Here the queen begins laying her eggs,
about ten per day, and the first larvae hatch within a week. Over the next three weeks, the new queen relies on a separate batch
of unfertilized eggs to nourish both herself and her brood, losing half her body weight
in the process. Thankfully, after about 20 days, these larvae grow
into the first generation of workers, ready to forage for food
and sustain their shrunken queen. Her daughters
will have to work quickly though— returning their mother
to good health is urgent. In the surrounding area, dozens of neighboring queens
are building their own ant armies. These colonies
have peacefully coexisted so far, but once workers appear, a phenomenon known as brood-raiding
begins. Workers from nests
up to several meters away begin to steal offspring
from our queen. Our colony retaliates, but new waves of raiders
from even further away overwhelm the workers. Within hours, the raiders have taken
our queen’s entire brood supply to the largest nearby nest— and the queen’s surviving daughters
abandon her. Chasing her last chance of survival, the queen follows the raiding trail
to the winning nest. She fends off other losing queens
and the defending nest’s workers, fighting her way
to the top of the brood pile. Her daughters help their mother succeed
where other queens fail— defeating the reigning monarch,
and usurping the brood pile. Eventually,
all the remaining challengers fail, until only one queen—
and one brood pile— remains. Now presiding over several hundred workers
in the neighborhood’s largest nest, our victorious queen begins
aiding her colony in its primary goal: reproduction. For the next several years,
the colony only produces sterile workers. But once their population
exceeds about 23,000, it changes course. From now on, every spring, the colony will produce
fertile alate males and females. The colony spawns these larger ants
throughout the early summer, and returns to worker production
in the fall. After heavy rainfalls,
these alates take to the skies, and spread their queen’s genes
up to a couple hundred meters downwind. But to contribute
to this annual mating frenzy, the colony must continue to thrive
as one massive super-organism. Every day, younger ants feed the queen
and tend to the brood, while older workers
forage for food and defend the nest. When intruders strike, these older warriors fend them off
using poisonous venom. After rainfalls,
the colony comes together, using the wet dirt to expand their nest. And when a disastrous flood
drowns their home, the sisters band together
into a massive living raft— carrying their queen to safety. But no matter how resilient, the life of a colony must come to an end. After about 8 years,
our queen runs out of sperm and can no longer replace dying workers. The nest’s population dwindles,
and eventually, they’re taken over
by a neighboring colony. Our queen’s reign is over,
but her genetic legacy lives on.

Ants in Madagascar! | Ants & Canopy Bootcamp 2019

Ants in Madagascar! | Ants & Canopy Bootcamp 2019


Jacob: yeah that was first time I’d used a hand
saw in the tree. They hauled it up to me on the rope and I used that to
cut out a big Camponotus colony. Kind of close to the ground but it’s still
pretty cool. Brian: people go into the forest and they think
“wow, what a beautiful forest” because they see the trees but actually what lives in
the trees just like this amazingly complicated question. It’s a
three-dimensional space there’s insects up there, there’s birds,
there’s lemurs, and we want to know what ants live up there. Why ants? Well, it’s
because they’re one the most dominant organisms in a forest, especially a
rainforest like here in Madagascar, but there are a few people that actually
know how to get up there, so we decided for the first time ever to organize the
training of Malagasy scientists and international scientists to go into the
canopy and explore and discover what ants live up there. Miles: in the summer of 2019
an international team of ant researchers organized an expedition into
Madagascar’s Western dry forests. Their goal: to survey ant diversity high in the
forest canopy while teaching the next generation of scientists. Camille: Madagascar is
home to a tremendous amount of biodiversity with ecosystems ranging
from the montane tropical rainforest to dry spiny thickets
however Madagascar’s unique biodiversity is really threatened by
anthropogenic disturbances such as deforestation and biological invasions.
Miles: after arriving in Madagascar the students begin lessons in ant morphology
they also discuss special field collection techniques. The first week
concludes with intensive training with tree climbing experts. Camile: so especially in
islands with such high levels of endemism it’s really important to
protect the biodiversity and create nuanced and informed management schemes
and in order to do that we really need to understand the diversity and the
various ecosystems of Madagascar especially looking into canopy
ecosystems which are typically really understudied but harbor a lot of
biodiversity. It’s really cool for our work to be able to understand the
diversity and abundance of various ant species in the dry forests of Ankarafantsika. Miles: Once their preparations are complete
the team leaves the capital city and heads into the island’s dry western
landscape. Bonnie: The reason we’re trying to assess canopy and diversity is that we
currently only have three sites in Madagascar sampled for ants in the canopy
but we have over a thousand samples for ants on the ground, so the ground nesting
ant fauna is it’s pretty well sampled and described by my colleague Brian
Fisher’s work but the canopy has been neglected so far so our studies
in Ankarafantsika National Park is one of the few that is looking for canopy
ants specifically. Brian: Madagascar is like a continent upon itself there is the dry
forest, the wet forest, the desert – and more so even within a habitat like the dry
forest, almost every forest patch is different we don’t really know what
we’re gonna find maybe we’ll find even something spectacular new but the first
step is just getting to that habitat. We’ll be testing different methods. By
the end of this we’ll probably have a good protocol for how to sample canopy
ants in Madagascar in the dry forest Jen: my name is Jen Schlauch and I’m an ant researcher and
I’m currently quite a few meters up from the forest floor looking for ants.
So I’ve already climbed the tree and I’m attached to this rope here – this is
how I’ll get down – and I’m up here and I’m breaking sticks. I’m looking for ant nests inside.
It’s pretty easy to overestimate how high you are up in the tree so we have
this convenient rope that’s got markings about every meter and I’m gonna lower it
so you can see how high we are. We’re going to start collecting in this tree
at about 17 meters. Bonnie: so at each tree we had one person climb the tree and search
for ant nests in the trees and collect every single ant they find in the tree
so either collect foragers, workers that are just looking for food in the tree or
ant nests so looking for ant nests and dead branches or dead twigs or on the bark.
Jen: a lot of the ants nest inside the dead twigs of the tree. The reason they
wouldn’t nest inside the living twigs is they often still have a lot of sap and liquid
inside them so they can’t nest inside. This is called an aspirator and it works like a
little handheld vacuum. You use your mouth to suck up the ants. Normally this is a
really good collecting method for ants but the ants that live on trees are used to
climbing up vertical surfaces so they have really good grip so these little
featherweight forceps work better than collecting the ants in the aspirator. They’re a little different from normal
forceps because they’re really delicate so it keeps you from squishing the ant when you pick them up Anne: So I’m one of the climbing instructors and I’m up here with Jen
who’s doing her sampling and she is using a lanyard technique to move
herself around the tree and to position herself to be able to break twigs and
look for ants or look for bark. See this green rope that’s attached to me is
going up to my higher anchor point and this is the rope that I move up and down
on but sometimes that rope doesn’t orient you the way that you want to go
to reach a branch or to take a sample so we have a lanyard that we use and the
lanyard can help us twist different ways or move us across to different branches
where we may want to be. And then I was in a really secure position here I can lean
back and I’m right next to the trunk and I could easily sample
things. Brian: Well, the technique is how to go up into the canopy using ropes in a safe
way and then not just get up there but actually to go from branch to branch – you
know like a like a lemur does Jen: So here I have a really tiny yellow ant,
they had a little foraging trail so they would collect a few of them and they’re
so small we’ll need the dissection scope back at the camp to identify them.
Once I collect the ants I put them in this vial filled with ethanol that
immediately kills them. I record where on the tree I found it, whether it was at a
branch or directly off the trunk and how high up I am. Besides ants you can find a lot of other
things up here like spiders just under the bark and little cockroaches and
sweat bees these are in family Halictidae and they like to suck the sweat off your body.
This tree had a couple of different genera of ants. There was the little
yellow one and Tetraponera and maybe two more genera that I couldn’t identify up
here and this is pretty different from some of the other ant communities we’ve
been seeing on other tree species and one thing this project is aiming to do
is compare the different ant communities between the different trees. Miles: While Jen
and the other climbers tackle the canopy students on the ground search for ants
in the undergrowth. Bonnie: We had one person at the same time sampling for ant nests and
ant foragers in the understory. We defined the understory as around a tree
in a radius of about two meters Miles: Additionally they use beat sheets to
collect insects in a wide radius around the tree by striking plants insects fall
onto the sheets and into the collection cups. Bonnie: And then we also baited for ants
and this was done as as a team usually so the students were placing little
sardine baits tied onto a cord that was then hoisted in the canopy and left for
two to three hours and then the baits were recollected and the ants collected
from the baits. Miles: Between the canopy sampling, ground collections, and tree
baiting, the teams collect hundreds of ants each day. They work into the night processing the new specimens. After 10
days the vials are full and the team travels back to the capital city to
begin the next phase of the project. So when the students come back from the
field with all these ant samples that we collected in the field they have a lot
of work to do. So first of all we need to make sure that every sample is accounted
for in our database. The students were taking notes – so-called collection notes –
while they were collecting the ants so they have to type up their collection
notes first and then we merge these into a joint database. Miles: each sample is assigned
a code linking it to a specific tree, collection time, microhabitat, and other
information called metadata. Students also learn about geographic information
systems which they use to map the ant diversity in the park. Miles: once I’m satisfied
with the accuracy of the database and we start on actually mounting and preparing
one ant per collection – that means glued to a tiny little paper point unless it’s
a colony collection then we would also mount the males and the queens and then
they need to identify every ant to genus and hopefully to species if we
have time. So they have a bunch of work to do over the next few days Michelle: It’s really frustrating to pin really tiny
ants especially when they’re like fractions of a millimeter long because
actually the point that you mount the ant on the piece of paper is bigger than
the ant itself sometimes. There’s a genus called Plagiolepis which I think
everyone struggled with. We decapitated some. It was a struggle but we got
through it! Michelle: This week went well. We pinned and
mounted over 600 ants and that encompasses like 16 genera at least.
Camille: Even though studying and understanding ants in Madagascar is incredibly
important for promoting conservation throughout the island, another really
cool feature that this bootcamp has is training the next generation of
conservationists. So it’s really amazing to foster these collaborations with U.S.
and Malagasy students alike and really be inspired by and build upon these
connections to position us well to make conservation impacts no matter what
field we enter in the future. [music]

Ants in Madagascar! | Ants & Canopy Bootcamp 2019


Jacob: yeah that was first time I’d used a hand
saw in the tree. They hauled it up to me on the rope and I used that to
cut out a big Camponotus colony. Kind of close to the ground but it’s still
pretty cool. Brian: people go into the forest and they think
“wow, what a beautiful forest” because they see the trees but actually what lives in
the trees just like this amazingly complicated question. It’s a
three-dimensional space there’s insects up there, there’s birds,
there’s lemurs, and we want to know what ants live up there. Why ants? Well, it’s
because they’re one the most dominant organisms in a forest, especially a
rainforest like here in Madagascar, but there are a few people that actually
know how to get up there, so we decided for the first time ever to organize the
training of Malagasy scientists and international scientists to go into the
canopy and explore and discover what ants live up there. Miles: in the summer of 2019
an international team of ant researchers organized an expedition into
Madagascar’s Western dry forests. Their goal: to survey ant diversity high in the
forest canopy while teaching the next generation of scientists. Camille: Madagascar is
home to a tremendous amount of biodiversity with ecosystems ranging
from the montane tropical rainforest to dry spiny thickets
however Madagascar’s unique biodiversity is really threatened by
anthropogenic disturbances such as deforestation and biological invasions.
Miles: after arriving in Madagascar the students begin lessons in ant morphology
they also discuss special field collection techniques. The first week
concludes with intensive training with tree climbing experts. Camile: so especially in
islands with such high levels of endemism it’s really important to
protect the biodiversity and create nuanced and informed management schemes
and in order to do that we really need to understand the diversity and the
various ecosystems of Madagascar especially looking into canopy
ecosystems which are typically really understudied but harbor a lot of
biodiversity. It’s really cool for our work to be able to understand the
diversity and abundance of various ant species in the dry forests of Ankarafantsika. Miles: Once their preparations are complete
the team leaves the capital city and heads into the island’s dry western
landscape. Bonnie: The reason we’re trying to assess canopy and diversity is that we
currently only have three sites in Madagascar sampled for ants in the canopy
but we have over a thousand samples for ants on the ground, so the ground nesting
ant fauna is it’s pretty well sampled and described by my colleague Brian
Fisher’s work but the canopy has been neglected so far so our studies
in Ankarafantsika National Park is one of the few that is looking for canopy
ants specifically. Brian: Madagascar is like a continent upon itself there is the dry
forest, the wet forest, the desert – and more so even within a habitat like the dry
forest, almost every forest patch is different we don’t really know what
we’re gonna find maybe we’ll find even something spectacular new but the first
step is just getting to that habitat. We’ll be testing different methods. By
the end of this we’ll probably have a good protocol for how to sample canopy
ants in Madagascar in the dry forest Jen: my name is Jen Schlauch and I’m an ant researcher and
I’m currently quite a few meters up from the forest floor looking for ants.
So I’ve already climbed the tree and I’m attached to this rope here – this is
how I’ll get down – and I’m up here and I’m breaking sticks. I’m looking for ant nests inside.
It’s pretty easy to overestimate how high you are up in the tree so we have
this convenient rope that’s got markings about every meter and I’m gonna lower it
so you can see how high we are. We’re going to start collecting in this tree
at about 17 meters. Bonnie: so at each tree we had one person climb the tree and search
for ant nests in the trees and collect every single ant they find in the tree
so either collect foragers, workers that are just looking for food in the tree or
ant nests so looking for ant nests and dead branches or dead twigs or on the bark.
Jen: a lot of the ants nest inside the dead twigs of the tree. The reason they
wouldn’t nest inside the living twigs is they often still have a lot of sap and liquid
inside them so they can’t nest inside. This is called an aspirator and it works like a
little handheld vacuum. You use your mouth to suck up the ants. Normally this is a
really good collecting method for ants but the ants that live on trees are used to
climbing up vertical surfaces so they have really good grip so these little
featherweight forceps work better than collecting the ants in the aspirator. They’re a little different from normal
forceps because they’re really delicate so it keeps you from squishing the ant when you pick them up Anne: So I’m one of the climbing instructors and I’m up here with Jen
who’s doing her sampling and she is using a lanyard technique to move
herself around the tree and to position herself to be able to break twigs and
look for ants or look for bark. See this green rope that’s attached to me is
going up to my higher anchor point and this is the rope that I move up and down
on but sometimes that rope doesn’t orient you the way that you want to go
to reach a branch or to take a sample so we have a lanyard that we use and the
lanyard can help us twist different ways or move us across to different branches
where we may want to be. And then I was in a really secure position here I can lean
back and I’m right next to the trunk and I could easily sample
things. Brian: Well, the technique is how to go up into the canopy using ropes in a safe
way and then not just get up there but actually to go from branch to branch – you
know like a like a lemur does Jen: So here I have a really tiny yellow ant,
they had a little foraging trail so they would collect a few of them and they’re
so small we’ll need the dissection scope back at the camp to identify them.
Once I collect the ants I put them in this vial filled with ethanol that
immediately kills them. I record where on the tree I found it, whether it was at a
branch or directly off the trunk and how high up I am. Besides ants you can find a lot of other
things up here like spiders just under the bark and little cockroaches and
sweat bees these are in family Halictidae and they like to suck the sweat off your body.
This tree had a couple of different genera of ants. There was the little
yellow one and Tetraponera and maybe two more genera that I couldn’t identify up
here and this is pretty different from some of the other ant communities we’ve
been seeing on other tree species and one thing this project is aiming to do
is compare the different ant communities between the different trees. Miles: While Jen
and the other climbers tackle the canopy students on the ground search for ants
in the undergrowth. Bonnie: We had one person at the same time sampling for ant nests and
ant foragers in the understory. We defined the understory as around a tree
in a radius of about two meters Miles: Additionally they use beat sheets to
collect insects in a wide radius around the tree by striking plants insects fall
onto the sheets and into the collection cups. Bonnie: And then we also baited for ants
and this was done as as a team usually so the students were placing little
sardine baits tied onto a cord that was then hoisted in the canopy and left for
two to three hours and then the baits were recollected and the ants collected
from the baits. Miles: Between the canopy sampling, ground collections, and tree
baiting, the teams collect hundreds of ants each day. They work into the night processing the new specimens. After 10
days the vials are full and the team travels back to the capital city to
begin the next phase of the project. So when the students come back from the
field with all these ant samples that we collected in the field they have a lot
of work to do. So first of all we need to make sure that every sample is accounted
for in our database. The students were taking notes – so-called collection notes –
while they were collecting the ants so they have to type up their collection
notes first and then we merge these into a joint database. Miles: each sample is assigned
a code linking it to a specific tree, collection time, microhabitat, and other
information called metadata. Students also learn about geographic information
systems which they use to map the ant diversity in the park. Miles: once I’m satisfied
with the accuracy of the database and we start on actually mounting and preparing
one ant per collection – that means glued to a tiny little paper point unless it’s
a colony collection then we would also mount the males and the queens and then
they need to identify every ant to genus and hopefully to species if we
have time. So they have a bunch of work to do over the next few days Michelle: It’s really frustrating to pin really tiny
ants especially when they’re like fractions of a millimeter long because
actually the point that you mount the ant on the piece of paper is bigger than
the ant itself sometimes. There’s a genus called Plagiolepis which I think
everyone struggled with. We decapitated some. It was a struggle but we got
through it! Michelle: This week went well. We pinned and
mounted over 600 ants and that encompasses like 16 genera at least.
Camille: Even though studying and understanding ants in Madagascar is incredibly
important for promoting conservation throughout the island, another really
cool feature that this bootcamp has is training the next generation of
conservationists. So it’s really amazing to foster these collaborations with U.S.
and Malagasy students alike and really be inspired by and build upon these
connections to position us well to make conservation impacts no matter what
field we enter in the future. [music]

Inside the Collections: Wasps


This facility contains two collections
of the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. Both part of the hymenoptera, the ants, bees and wasps. One collection, housed in these half-height
cabinets down this corridor, is the wasp nest collection, which is the worlds largest. The other collection, housed in these cabinets, is the gall wasp collection of Alfred
Kinsey, who studied gall wasps well before he started studying human
sexuality. Social wasps are very familiar to people and have been since time immemorial. Possibly humans got the idea for
making paper from watching wasps chew wood and mixing it with saliva. This is a
complicated beautiful structure, and it’s made by a group of insects that
have a brain about the size of a pin head. Now, to make something that complex, all of these insects have to have a complex society. And the nests are
indicators of that. In the American tropics these wasps are subject to
predation by birds, monkeys and so they’ve evolved visual camouflage. Other examples of
disguise include this nest which was taken from the side of a tree.
Each of these are separate cones and they’re built on an envelope, the envelope
of the preceding cone, so it’s like they’re stories that are stacked. They
can build one of these large nests within two days, and that’s because the
nests are made by swarms of queens accompanied by swarms of workers. We have Kinsey’s collection because he grew up in South Orange, New
Jersey, across the river, and got his first entomological instruction here at the American Museum, so when he
died his collection was willed to us. In addition to the the wasps, Kinsey
collected many galls. We have a collection now of more than seven millions specimens. A gall is a structure
made out of plant tissue. The wasp comes along, lays an egg into the
plant and the chemicals that she injects when she’s laying the egg cause the plant to swell around it and produce
these large growths that the gall wasp larvae when it hatches starts to feed on. If you’re dealing with large numbers of
very small objects, and you are interested in the study of variation,
you have to look at a great many specimens. And that’s one reason that invertebrate zoology has so many specimens. In fact, entomology has the majority of
the objects in the entire Museum’s collection, about eighteen million specimens are part of entomology.

Hairy Flower Wasp – Australian Wasp | Short Documentary

Hairy Flower Wasp – Australian Wasp | Short Documentary


The Hairy Flower Wasp is native to Australia and can be identified by their purple-bluish shinny wings, black body and short antennae. The adult Hairy Flower Wasp often feeds on nectar They are often seen flying just above ground level around compost heaps, wood heaps and decaying tree stumps. Being strong burrowers the female Hairy Flower Wasp searches for beetle larva to lay their eggs. First the beetle larva are stung and paralyze, the female lays her eggs and when the baby wasps are hatched they feeds on the beetle larva. The Hairy Flower Wasp can administer a nasty sting. However they are quit placid and not aggressive, unless provoked.

These Wasps Throw Awesome Parties

These Wasps Throw Awesome Parties


[INTRO ♪] Wasps have a pretty nasty reputation. When it comes to protecting their nests, they can be quite aggressive—which isn’t really their fault. They’re just protecting their home and their families. But that’s a whole different thing. See, as mean as these animals might appear, they’re not always in anger mode. In the fall, some species chill out and get together for what could only be called “wasp parties!” And much like our parties, these soirees can provide some fascinating insights into their social lives. People often report seeing large gatherings of paper wasps as summer slides into winter. But these aren’t aggressive swarms. Instead, the wasps just sort of seem to be hanging out. This lesser-known part of the wasps’ life cycle is called pre-hibernation. See, wasp colonies pop up in the spring, each started by one or more females which are called foundresses. By the summer, the colony is full of workers bustling about to take care of the eggs and babies that the foundresses produce. Then, as summer ends, the colony collapses. The sterile workers die. The males mate with the remaining fertile females. And then, the males die, too. And these mated females—all potential queens called gynes—will spend the winter hibernating, waiting to start the whole yearly cycle over again when the flowers bloom. But in some places, temperatures stay warm enough that they still have some time before they have to settle in. So, they gather in groups, especially near
the tops of tall structures. No one’s really sure what it is about tallness that they’re attracted to, but they sure seem to like the roofs of silos or the tips of telephone poles. Sometimes it’s just a handful of wasps;
and sometimes, it’s hundreds. It’s thought that these numbers might help keep them safe from predators and from the coming cold. And for decades, many entomologists assumed these gatherings were pretty boring. But it turns out that much like human parties, there are some fascinating social dynamics going on. With no nests to defend, the wasps are pretty docile—not only toward intruders like us, but also towards each other. They’ll chill alongside individuals from multiple colonies, and sometimes multiple species. And even though they’re all potential queens, a new social hierarchy forms. The wasps have been observed biting, lunging, and mounting each other, though no one gets badly hurt or kicked out of the group. They’re just establishing who’s in charge. Some scientists have even characterized this behavior as playing. Much like puppies or kittens, these wasps may be play fighting, because in this low-stress environment, they can practice the skills they’ll need to establish who’s the boss in the spring. But that’s not to say that there are no stakes in these games. See, the females who lose these competitions act subordinate for the rest of the party, and some even fetch food for the group like workers in colonies usually do! And these social interactions seem to influence who wins in the long run. The lowest ranking wasps rarely survive the winter. And the more dominant a wasp is during pre-hibernation, the more likely she is to become the dominant foundress of a colony in the spring. Entomologists have noted that the highest-ranking wasps at the parties show the traits that identify dominant foundresses, such as larger ovaries and a bigger body size. So, these chill gatherings may actually serve as early testing grounds where the wasps practice the social hierarchy that will benefit them later. Far from being a boring time when the wasps are just waiting around, it may be that pre-hibernation is an essential step in preparing future foundresses for spring. So if you come across a swarm of laid-back wasps this fall, don’t be a buzzkill. Leave them alone so they can ring in the winter their way. Thanks for watching! If you want to learn more about wasps and why they’re actually really awesome, you should check out our video on what would happen if we killed them all. And don’t forget to subscribe! [OUTRO ♪]

Schmidt Pain Index: Bees, Wasps, Ants, And Their Stings

Schmidt Pain Index: Bees, Wasps, Ants, And Their Stings


Hi Guys! I am Trisha with Insectopia here to talk to
you about the Schmidt Pain Index. Can you imagine walking over flaming charcoal, with a 3 inch nail embedded in your heel? Well, Justin Schmidt can. This pain scale rates stings from bees, wasps, and ants from 1-4. But this rating system isn’t limited to
numbers, Justin adds a little something to each description that might help you understand
what they feel like. If you are unsure about where your sting fell
on this scale, Justin does have a reference point. The scale is centered around the sting of
a honey bee being a 2.0. Let’s not just talk about this scale. Let’s explore some of the insects on it. The sweat bee. This solitary bee is ground dwelling and has
black and white striping on its abdomen. This bee’s sting feels like “A tiny spark
singed a single hair on your arm.” It is light, ephemeral and almost fruity rated at
a 1.0. The fire ant. This ant builds large ant mounds and are bright
red in color. When they sting, it feels “Like walking
across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.” Their sharp, sudden, and mildly
alarming sting rates in at a 1.0. The suturing army ant. This ant, like the name suggests was used
by tribes in the amazon to stitch large wounds. This ant has long and powerful mandibles. Their sting is like “A cut on your elbow,
being stitched with a rusty needle,” and is rated as a 1.5. The bullhorn acacia ant. This ant has a mutual symbiosis with the acacia
tree. The ant protects the tree and the tree produces
a sweet nectar for the ant to eat. A sting from this ant is as if “Someone
has fired a staple into your cheek.” This ant’s sting is a rare, piercing, elevated
sort of pain that is rated 1.5. The bald-faced hornet. This hornet is black and white striped and
builds a large basketball sized nest that hangs from the branches of trees. Their sting is “Similar to getting your
hand mashed in a revolving door.” This rich, hearty, and slightly crunchy sting is rated
2.0. The western yellowjacket. This black and yellow striped wasp makes its
nest out of a paper like substance they make by chewing up wood. Their sting is hot and smokey, almost irreverent. “Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.”
The yellow jacket is rated a 2.0. The honey wasp. This wasp is a social wasp that actually produces
honey. Their sting feels as if “A cotton swab dipped
in habanero has been pushed up your nose.” They are rated on the scale at a 2.0. The fierce black polybia wasp. This is a social wasp that has multi-tiered
nests that have more than one queen. This sting feels as if a satanic ritual has
gone wrong. “The gas lamp in the old church explodes
in your face when you light it.” This is approximately a 2.5. The red paper wasp. These wasps feed their nymphs caterpillars
and nectar. Their sting is caustic and burning with a
distinctly bitter aftertaste. “Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric
acid on a paper cut.” It is a 3.0 on the scale. The giant paper wasp. This is a wasp that Justin got stung by in
New Guinea. “There are gods and they do throw thunderbolts. Poseidon has rammed his trident into your
breast.” This stinging pain is rated at a 3.0. The tarantula hawk. This wasp stings and paralyzes tarantulas,
carries them to a hole in the ground, and leaves them paralyzed so that the young wasps
can eat the paralyzed tarantula alive. This sting is blind, fierce, and shockingly
electric. “A running hair drier has been dropped into
your bubble bath.” This is one of the top on the pain scale with a 4.0. He says, if you get stung by one you might
as well lie down and scream. The bullet ant. These ants were used in a ritual by native
tribes in Brazil as a way for the boys to prove that they are now men. This sting is pure, intense, brilliant pain. “Like walking over flaming charcoal with
a 3-inch nail embedded in your heel.” This is a 4.0 on the pain index. The warrior wasp. These wasps have an impressive threat display. They sit on the outside of their nest and
when a predator approaches, they beat their wings in sync with each other. This makes the sound of marching warriors. “You are chained in the flow of an active
volcano. Why did I start this list?” Justin Schmidt
equates this 4.0 sting with torture. These are images of the bees, wasps, and ants
that we have talked about today. Thank you for listening! Our buggy question is: What kind of insects
have you been stung by and how would you describe the pain? Make sure to like and subscribe for more videos
like this one. Come back soon to check out our next epic
insect tale.