As you know, sometimes we let bees creep in here at Wild About Ants.
The Bee Diaries Project is a short series of popular science podcasts about bees in Great Britain.
Prof Dave Goulson talks about the waggle dance in honey bees and bee communication in general.
They left me wishing there were more in the series.
How well do you know bees?
So, what kind of presents do you get for someone who is Wild About Ants?
How about a "Caution Workers Ahead" sign for their office?
Everyone likes a t-shirt.
Even better, why not one that says "Eusocial" on the front...
and "Anti-Social" on the back.
These gifts were from Wild Cotton by Atlas Screen Printing, 131 S.E. 10th Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601. Full disclosure: my husband is a friend of the owner.
For the bookshelf, try Ants of Florida: Identification and Natural History* by Mark Deyrup.
(*Amazon Affiliate link)
It's a bit pricey, but a useful resource.
Florida seems to be the place for ant-themed stuff this year.
Have you received any ant-themed gifts this year?
Is it an ant?
Take a closer look. Can you see the beak folded under the head?
Although it resembles a worker ant, this insect is a Texas bow-legged bug, Hyalymenus tarsatus.
In this species, only the nymphs are the ant mimics. In fact, as they develop from one instar to the next, the nymphs exhibit a variety of colors to more closely match different ant species of similar sizes (see examples at BugGuide). In addition to mimicking the appearance of the ants, the Texas bow-legged bug nymphs also walk and move their antennae like ants.
Texas bow-legged bugs feed on the seed pods of a number of legumes (Fabaceae), including rattlebush, Sesbania drummondii. They are also reported feeding on milkweed seed pods. Ants are commonly found tending aphids on the same plants.
Just goes to show appearances can be deceiving.
Paulo S. Olviera. (1985) On the mimetic association between nymphs of Hyalymenus spp. (Hemiptera: Alydidae) and ants. Journal of the Linnean Society, 83: 371-384. (.pdf)
A friend sent me this photograph of an ants' nest in a sidewalk.
(Photograph by Cassie Bentley, used with permission.)
What do you think they're trying to say?