Engorged nestmates

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Paratrechina longicornis
Florida

Their abdomens swollen with sugar water, two black crazy ants (Paratrechina longicornis) share a moment.  This species has traveled around the globe with human commerce and is now common in warmers regions worldwide.

photo details: Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, f/13, 1/200 sec, indirect strobe in a white box

4 thoughts on “Engorged nestmates”

  1. So, would they ever over-imbibe on just water to stretch their abdomens so? Interesting thoughts about influence of sugar…

  2. James C. Trager

    These ants have not “over-imbibed”. Sugar is an essential nutrient for many ants. All Paratrechina species and many others have natural sugars of various sorts as the primary component of the adult diet. But, concentrated sugar is a relatively rare commodity in nature, so, it is a perfectly natural and adaptive response for ants to gorge on it when it becomes available. E.g., they will drink aphid honeydew high in trees to such a point.

    Very thirsty ants will also imbibe water to a point of engorgement.

    1. Just like carbohydrates are a sought-after commodity in humans, and previously relatively rare in the environment, I was wondering if the sugar were a similar stimulant to the ants vs. water alone. And yes, very thirsty humans can also over-indulge with water, but the over consumption of carbohydrates does not necessarily have anything to do with a perceived deficit.

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