Tag Archives: get rid of ants

Tiny Demons Tend the “Devil’s Garden”.

An ant species which is found in the rainforests of South America, Lemon ants (Myrmelachista schumanni),

Photo by Alan Wiltsie
Photo by Alan Wiltsie

live in and around Duroia Hirstula, a species of tree that provides them with protected nesting areas and offers nutrition in the form of extra floral nectar or food bodies inside the tree.

What does this ant provide the tree in return for food and shelter?   They increase the ability of these trees to grow and flourish by creating a safety zone or Devil’s Garden”.

RhinoMind [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
RhinoMind [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
What is this evil spirit infested garden”? It’s a large stands of trees, in the Amazonian rainforest, that consists, almost exclusively, of a single species, Duroia hirsuta, and, according to local legend, is cultivated by an evil forest spirit, the  Chullachaki.    These “gardens” stand in extreme contrast to the surrounding, heavily foliated, Amazonian jungle.    Researchers estimate that the largest garden observed, contains 328 trees in an area of about 14,000 sq. ft., and is around 800 years old.

There is no evil spirit involved in these gardens, just a small, highly motivated ant, known as the Lemon Ant. Once the Lemon ant queen establishes her colony in a Duroia hirstula tree, worker lemon ants start to attack all surrounding vegetation, injecting plants with formic acid (produced in internal glands) which kills the plants.

PHOTOGRAPHS © BBC NATURAL HISTORY UNIT
PHOTOGRAPHS © BBC NATURAL HISTORYUNIT – Martin Dohrn   /https://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/september28/devil-092805.html

Once the worker ants, which constantly patrol their territory, identify an invading plant species, they attack the plants in mass, causing the plants to die a slow death. Besides killing invasive plants with their internal herbicide, the lemon ants also attack herbivorous, plant eating, insects which attempt to feed on the Duroia hirstula tree. As the Duroia hirstula tree produces saplings, they are also protected by the worker lemon ants.  This beneficial relationship is known as mutualism.

However mutually beneficial this relationship might be, in the long run, it might be more of a case of can’t live without them but in the end, for the tree, can’t live with them.  There is a downside to this relationship, particularly for the tree, for as the colony grows, it weakens the structure of the tree as the ants establish hollow passages and chambers inside the tree.

Fun Fact:

The name Lemon ant comes from the ability of these ants to produce, as part of a glandular chemical defense system, a lemony smelling acid. When crushed or attacked, citronellal pheromones are created by the ant to communicate alarm and danger to nearby nest mates.  These ants also have a tangy lemon taste. So, if you’re adventurous, they’ll provide a delicious, lemony treat.

Eating ants, no matter how tasty, may not be how you want to get rid of ants.  Follow this link to find great ways to keep ants out of your yard and out of your home.  https://www.corkyspest.com/ultimate-pest-control.html

T-Rex Ant: Not Living Up To It’s Fearsome Namesake, The Tyrannosaurus Rex

There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet got it right.  Man has a limited knowledge of his own universe and there truly are, new and exciting things discovered every day. One of the newer discoveries is the T. Rex ant (Tyrannomyrmex rex).  Originally, dead  ant specimens were discovered in Malaysia in 1994 and were our only evidence of their existence until recently, when Mark Wong (National Geographic Young Explorer) and Gordon Yong (both, of the University of Singapore) discovered a thriving colony in northern Singapore.

It was nt-rex-antso small fete to find these ugly brutes, since their preference for nesting sites is moist, rotting wood buried under inches of soil. These ants create nest chambers inside the rotting wood, where they live, work and breed.  As luck would have it, military training activity and the debris left behind by soldiers (various trash items) brought them to the surface and to the attention of researchers.

Being named after the fearsome dinosaur, T. Rex, because of its hellishly, unique appearance, has proven a misrepresentation of its true personality.  This ant is no tyrant, it is shy, seemingly nocturnal and a picky eater. What surprised the scientists most was, when offered what

Photo by Gordon Yong, National University of Songapore
Photo by Gordon Yong, National University of Songapore

ants normally eat (honey, termites, insects and other ants) these denizens of the dark preferred to eat their own. Cannibalism is not unknown in the insect world but this finding reveals how much of a mystery these asian ants are.

According to these two intrepid entomologists, Wong and Yong, “There is this amazing world right beneath our feet, which we have hardly explored and we are excited to get started.”

Here are some interesting statistics:

To date, less than five percent of the ocean has been explored. The ocean is the lifeblood of Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface, driving weather, regulating temperature, and ultimately supporting all living organisms.  http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/exploration.html

Worldwide, 17 percent of land is still virtually untouched — mostly because it is inhospitable to humans. In areas, capable of growing basic crops, and therefore most able to support people, untouched lands have diminished to 2 percent of the total. http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2014/09/earth-is-still-an-alien-planet-5-habitats-we-havent-explored/

Alaska holds the vast majority of least-altered lands in the United States.  www.grindtv.com/travel/7-reasons-alaska-still-last-frontier/http://www.grindtv.com/travel/7-reasons-alaska-still-last-frontier/

If ants are occupying more of your personal space than you would like, and you need to get rid of ants, check out this link or call a professional ant exterminator today. 

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