Slave ants and their masters are locked in a deadly relationship

Ants have a reputation of being industrious hard-working animals, sacrificing their own benefit for the good of the colony.

Source: phys.org

GR:  Ants are a critical component of the earth’s terrestrial ecosystems.  They consume and break down large amounts of material, they control the populations of numerous species, and they provide food for many others.  For instance, ants make up 40% of the diet of the Northern Flicker, a common Arizona bird.  Despite being small and not so visible, ants account for 15% to 25% of all animal biomass on our planet’s land surface—far more than any other animal group.  Read more.

Ants, The Dark Matter of Terrestrial Ecosystems

By Garry Rogers

Ants of Arizona

Ants are a critical part of the earth’s terrestrial ecosystems.  They consume and break down large amounts of material, they control the populations of many species, and they are food for many others.  For instance, ants make up 40% of the diet of the Northern Flicker, a common Arizona bird.  Despite being small and not so visible, ants account for 15% to 25% of all animal biomass on earths land surface—far more than any other animal group.

Despite their great numbers and vital behavior, we know very little about the lives and conservation status of most ant species.  Now, with all live on earth threatened by human multiplication, the need to study ants grows greater every day.  When they disappear, ants will leave no records.  No one will know how they lived and what they accomplished.

red harvester ant worker

red harvester ant worker

The photo shows a Red Harvester Ant worker (Pogonomyrmex barbatus), carrying a seed back to the nest.  Photo by Alexander Wild (http://www.alexanderwild.com).

Arizona has more than 300 ant species, more than any other U. S. state.  Ants are found from the lowest desert areas to near the tops of the highest mountains.  Harvester Ants (Pogonomyrmex, Messor, and Pheidole) are most abundant in warm desert areas.  Carpenter (Camponotus) and Wood Ants (Formica) are more common in cooler uplands and mountains.

According to Stefan Cover and Bob Johnson (www.antweb. org/arizona.jsp), 12 of Arizona’s ant species are not natives, but none is causing problems.  Fire Ants from South America (Solenopsis invicta) have reached Arizona, but the only known colony was eradicated.  Fire Ants are highly destructive.  They form large colonies that displace other ants, alter habitats, and they even consume native animals and their offspring (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum). Continue reading