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Army Ant Week Post #3

January 23, 2003 | Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica

OK, I admit it’s not a great photo. What I was trying to show here though was how thoroughly the army ants at the raid front carpet an area, looking for prey. They go in, under and over everything. I usually just step over the raid trails when I encounter them. In this case though, they were very thoroughly blocking the trail I was on. I eventually tip-toed through them, followed by some vigorous foot stomping.

Seeing a raid front really is quite a spectacle though. There are often antbirds flitting around, and it’s amazing to see all the stuff that the ants scare from the leaf litter. I’ve been surprised by just how many hidden critters are suddenly forced into revealing themselves. As potential prey flees the ants, you can’t help but notice how some are immediately set upon by parasitic flies. read more

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Army Ant Week Post #2

July 20, 2006 | Ilhabela, Sao Paulo State, Brazil

These two photos are from my first trip to Brazil. I spent a week on the island of Ilhabela, a few hours drive from Sao Paulo.

I probably wouldn’t even have noticed these ants if not for the calling of antbirds. The birds were making quite a fuss so I moved in to investigate. That’s when I started to hear a light rustling noise and then noticed the ants carpeting the leaf litter. The rustling is not just the ants, but all of their potential prey trying to escape.

Below, they’ve managed to overwhelm a spider, er, well, actually just a shed spider skin. Honestly, I always believed this was a captured spider until reviewing it yesterday when I noticed something was off. read more

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Army Ant Week Post #1

In honor of Army Ant Week, I’m going to take a short break from my recent Costa Rica photos to post a few army ant photos.

June 7, 2004 | Barro Colorado Island, Panama

The only time I’ve ever seen an army ant bivouac was on a trip to Panama. I don’t recall if the photo above was of part of the bivouac or just an ant bridge somewhere along a foraging trail. My field notes were unfortunately lost in a house fire several years ago.

This could be Eciton hamatum, based on Alex Wild’s post today on that species. They are definitely orange, and I don’t recall being bitten or stung. If they are some other species, I’m sure I’ll be set straight in short order. read more

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Some Army Ant Observations

January 27, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

That’s the general scene. I encountered these army ants on the side of the trail towards the end of the afternoon. The odd thing is that I didn’t see much more than what’s shown here. There were a couple of holes in the ground, outside the shot above, but roughly in the upper left and lower right. Despite some searching in the nearby vicinity, I didn’t find any other ant trails. But there were ants streaming in and out of the two holes, forming roughly two paths. The bottom path was moving to the right and the top to the left. read more

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