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Eye-catching Behavior in Leptogenys Ants

Okay, you’ve probably already seen these ant videos because they are making the rounds of social networks, but I thought they were worth sharing again.

Bees Unlimited shared this video of Leptogenys ants moving a millipede in Cambodia.

Aren’t those chains of workers surprising?

Here’s a closer view, where you can see the details of the workers better.

I’m surprised this millipede isn’t discharging, because it looks fresh. Maybe it already did.

Finally, here’s another video of the same behavior by a different author at

Forget the Ant Class in Portal. I’m headed to Cambodia.:-)
What about you?

Ant Course 2015: Arizona Here They Come

Want to learn more about ants? Have some time and money you can spend this summer? Then think about taking Ant Course 2015!

The Ant Course is going to be held August 6-16, 2015  at the Southwestern Research Station in Portal, Arizona.



In case you were wondering, Portal is in southeastern Arizona on the east side of the gorgeous Chiricahua Mountains. Although it may seem like a hot, barren desert, Arizona is actually a fantastic place to study ants, with some 350+ species found here. We have honeypots, harvesters, leafcutters, and army ants, as well as bigheaded ants. etc.

Sponsored by California Academy of Sciences and Museum of Comparative Zoology (with funding from National Science Foundation), the Ant Course is intended to help individuals learn about ant field collection techniques and identification (they promise to genus).

To get you in the mood, here’s what happened when the course was offered in Arizona in 2011:

(Scary, isn’t it?)

Although the course is open to everyone, enrollment is limited to 30 people and priority will be given to students doing research. Check the Ant Course website for details and costs, as well as links to the application.

Deadline for applications:  April 1, 2015

This just might be my year to give it a try. What about you?

Favorite Ant Photographs of 2014

Seems like ants have taken a back seat to other things this year.  Regardless, here are a few of my favorite photographs from 2014.


Even missing a leg, a Pogonomyrmex warrior is ready to defend her nest.


Not sure what these Solenopsis workers are finding so interesting on rush milkweed buds.


Sometime I wasn’t intending to feature ants. For example, I was more interested in the delicate Thurber’s cotton flower than the rover ant visiting the nectary.



Like other cotton plants, the Thurber’s cotton also has extrafloral nectaries that attract ants.


Nothing is more exciting than finding princess ants about to swarm after the first rains of summer.



How about Messor pergandei taken at my favorite place to visit ants? (A good place to look for ants if you don’t mind dodging mountain bikes, that is. )

Do you have an end-of-the-year post of nature photographs? Feel free to share your link in the comments.

Happy New Year!

Following Elements Through the Universe With a New Book: Your Atomic Self

When scientists study ants, they often find themselves thinking about emergent properties as they discover the sum of the colony adds up to so much more than the individual workers. Dr. Curt Stager has reversed the lens to look at how we humans are made up of atoms, where those atoms come from, where they go, and how they are connected to other processes. He has woven his findings into a new popular-science book:  Your Atomic Self: The Invisible Elements That Connect You to Everything Else in the Universe.



All matter is made up of atoms, but Dr. Stager has chosen to use the human body as his point of reference. This is a simple, yet effective, way to provide both relatability and scale to general readers. This is not a medical treatise, however, even though it features humans. Instead it is more like a nature hike using our basic knowledge of ourselves as a trail marker for exploring the world of elements.

The “hike” is a far ranging one, covering topics from why the sky is blue to how the nitrogen atoms from salmon end up in spruce trees in the Pacific Northwest. The text is roughly organized by the elements you would expect:  carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, etc. To its credit, it covers recent scientific literature, especially in the field of ecology.

Be sure to read to the end of the book. Dr. Stager has included an epilogue about Albert Einstein that contains gems about the life of the man that are sure to fascinate science historians. As some of you may know, Einstein not only was prominent in the field of physics, but also made huge contributions to chemistry, such as by explaining Brownian motion is due to the movement of atoms and molecules and thus providing evidence of their existence. In this section Stager also gives voice to his ideas about what life is and how emergent properties come into play.

Your Atomic Self would be appropriate for anyone interested in popular science, and particularly to students of chemistry and ecology. Although not about ants per se, if you are looking for in depth information about how common elements are used and recycled, or want to think more about emergence, then this is the book for you.


Dr. Curt Stager also hosts Natural Selections at North Country Public Radio, for example like this episode about wood ant mounds.

See an excerpt from the book at Huffington Post

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (October 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250018846
ISBN-13: 978-1250018847

Disclosures: The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.