This could be the biggest ant I've ever seen in the wild. Just for comparison, I've got my handy-dandy field notebook out in the second picture as we tried to get a good shot for scaling purposes. The thing was almost an inch long! That's huge for an ant!
Ants are an incredibly important part of almost any terrestrial environment. Not only do they play the role of janitor, keeping their habitat free of dead insects, animals, arthropods, and some plant materials, they can also act as pollinators and food sources. Of course, I don't have to tell you they can be pests too. But, contrary to popular belief, not all ant species are pests. Lots of ants just chill out, minding their own business, not even interested in bothering you or invading your home. Down here in Southern California, the Argentine ant is an excellent example of a pest ant as they routinely invade homes and mess up our lives. A good example of a non-pest ant? Whatever the heck is in that picture! I've only ever seen them out in the forest, away from people. Talk about ANTi-social. HA!
Okay, serious talk again. All ants belong to the same family: Formicidae. Formicidae is part of the order Hymenoptera, which means ants are holometabolous, which means they go through a complete metamorphosis, which means they have an egg, larva, pupa, and adult stage.
Find a weird looking ant on your explorations? Post a picture with the #letsgofindabug or @letsgofindabug and we'll identify it for you and tell you a little bit about it. :) Photos by: Michael Mauch @mauchingyou
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