You’ve probably all discovered the iNaturalist app years ago, but I just started playing around with some of its capabilities.
For example, I’m interested in ant nests. The shape of the nest can sometimes help with identification. It is also fascinating to see what insects are capable of building.
Check out this cecropia ant nest, Genus Azteca.
It does lead to questions, such as where are the ants and what is the nest made of?
Here’s a similar public domain image from Wikimedia by Alex Wild. It is from from a guayaba tree in Archidona, Ecuador.
These nests are made of carton, which may be either wood particles, soil, and/or trichomes mixed with fungal mycelium. So cool!
Mayer, V. E., & Voglmayr, H. (2009). Mycelial carton galleries of Azteca brevis (Formicidae) as a multi-species network. Proceedings. Biological Sciences, 276(1671), 3265–3273. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2009.0768
AntWiki is a great place to start if you want to learn more about Azteca.
The next nest doesn’t look like an ant nest at all. It looks like a piece of pottery.
It seems impossible that ants made this structure, but you can see ants in the photograph. They are tiny specks in the center opening. The ants have been identified as Pheidole sykesii or the Indian harvester ant.
This video shows how small the ants are relative to the structure.
Alex Wild at Myrmecos has a post about it, too (see the comments).
What do you think of iNaturalist? Do you use it regularly?
Below is a collection of amazing insect nests.