Life of Ants

There’s only one problem with using a hose as an evacuation route…

Eventually you reach the end of the line!

Thank you to Karen Gibson for sending these photographs and giving me permission to use them.

Where to Find Queen Ants

Many people want to know where they can find a queen ant.

ants with alates

Here in Phoenix the ant nests are filled with alates (winged ants) ready to swarm in late July and August.

ants with alates2

In the day or so after a strong thundershower, called “monsoons” here, it is easy to find queens running across the ground looking for spots to nest.

This week I found a great place to hunt – tennis courts. As the bright overhead lights came on in the evening after a big storm the night before, the queens ants themselves started to rain down. I collected queens of three different species in ten minutes. I wasn’t too interested in the rover ant queens, but noticed they were mating right there on the tennis court. It was amazing.

Unfortunately my tennis buddies were not as thrilled as I was, so I didn’t get a chance to observe as much as I would have liked. You can guess where I’ll hanging out be next time it rains.

Ever found queen ants attracted to the big lights at sporting events?

More on Ant Stridulation

Awhile ago I did a post about ant stridulation or ants communicating via sound. I recently found a couple more recordings of ants.

The first is a short piece on recording ants for KUER radio in Utah.  Dr. Bernie Krause, a bioacoustician, talks about his experience recording in Cherry Creek, AZ in Western Soundscapes: Ants with ant sounds in the background. Unfortunately, he does not identify the ants.

Entomologist Hayward Spangler talks about a novel way of using his teeth as a way to pick up harvest ant stridulations. You can listen and download a mp3 file at NPR: Listening to Ants or listen here to same recording. (In case one of the links breaks in the future.)

You can also hear a recording of the harvester ant stridulations by Jeff Rice at Western Soundscape Archive


I just can’t get enough of listening to ants. How about you?