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In the last post, I looked at carpenter ants overwintering in upstate New York.

Here is Chandler, Arizona the temperatures the day this was taken ranged from a low of 45° F (7° C) to a high of 78° F (26° C). What are the ants doing here?

Any activity at this Pogonomyrex harvester ant nest?

Can you see the ant coming out of the nest entrance?

Looks like a bit of housecleaning.

Most of the workers were coming out of the nest carrying debris.

The ants were moving about six to eight inches from the entrance and depositing.

What are ants doing where you live?

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Last week I got a peek at where Camponotus pennsylvanicus carpenter ants spend the winter.

The temperatures were hovering around freezing in upstate New York, where I was helping someone spit firewood.

When the wood split, occasionally we would find tunnels, hardly more than grooves in the wood, packed with ants. Although the ants look like they might have been moving, they were mostly stiff and inactive. You could shake them out onto the ground without much resistance.

This group was in softer wood with more decay. Notice the larva. Most of the clusters of worker ants had small larvae with them.

Camponotus carpenter ants that live in temperate climates enter a state of slowed metabolism, called “diapause”, in the late fall and through the cold parts of the winter. Generally, the queen stops laying eggs. The workers begin to aggregate more than before. The workers develop large fat bodies, which can be seen as their gasters swell in size, as well as produce glycerol. Glycerol is an alcohol that helps prevent the formation of ice crystals within the ants' bodies. No wonder the ants stagger a bit when they try to move. 🙂

What are ants doing this month where you live?

For more information try:

Cannon, C. A. 1990. Demography, cold hardiness, and nutrient reserves of overwintering nests of the carpenter ant, Camponotus pennsylvanicus (De Geer). M. S. Thesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 165 pp.

Cannon, C.A. and R.D. Fell. 1992. Cold hardiness of the overwintering black carpenter ant. Physiol. Entomol. 17:121-126.

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The ants are still active here, but I haven't had much to report. In an effort to get back in the swing of things, I will be posting some short notes.

Do you know what this is? I tipped over a rock near a Southern fire ant nest and found this cache of tiny seeds. It is easy to forget that fire ants also harvest seeds.

I should have picked up a couple of the seeds to try to sprout them. It wasn't obvious where they came from, as there weren't any plants nearby.

Have you ever found seed caches in fire ant nests?