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Rover Ant Condo

In an effort to learn more about rover ants, I have been searching for nests.

During the summer, we accidentally discovered several colonies when transferring potted plants, so we know they nest in those. We also watched a colony relocate from one nest in the soil to another. It was cool to see the big gush of ants along the trail as the queen and her entourage moved through.

This week I found another place where some rover ants are hanging out.

From a few feet back, it doesn't look like much. This is an old stalk from a hollyhock. Hollyhock stems are filled with a soft, white pithy material.

It doesn't look much more significant close up.

If you watch for a few minutes, however, it becomes apparent that some ants live here.

Note to self:  investigate that beige shiny stuff around the entrance. Any ideas?

This one seems to be eliminating something. I wonder if that has anything to do with the shiny material?

Most of these are fairly light-colored workers. It is also about 50 °F and shaded for the most part, so activity in the entire yard is way is way down. We'll see what happens as it warms up again.

By the way, the shape of this entrance leads me to suspect it was once created by another insect.

This is the entrance of the small carpenter bee, Ceratina that I found nesting in the hollyhock stalks earlier. If the entrance above is one created by a carpenter bee, then the ants have closed it up a bit.

So, is this a nest or some sort of bivouac? What do you think?

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