Monday Night Mystery

Here’s one for the natural history detectives:

A scene from the leaf litter in an Amazonian forest

What happened here? Eight points will be awarded to the first person to correctly recount the sequence of events leading to this image. And two points for guessing the ant genus.

The cumulative points winner for the month of March will win their choice of 1) any 8×10-sized print from my photo galleries, or 2) a guest post here on Myrmecos.

Good luck!

13 thoughts on “Monday Night Mystery”

  1. Alright, I’ve tried the Google for confirmation of these random thoughts, but no luck, so I’m throwing it out there:

    The seed is from a large nut which contains a large number of these seeds which release one at a time to be carried on the wind (can’t remember what species this nut is from… argh). The nut was recently being dined on by an agouti, who left the scat that’s interesting the ant in the foreground (and disgusting the ant in the background by the looks of it). An intrepid myrmecologist likely startled the rodent, sending it scurrying into the undergrowth while the ants followed the hum of the speedlight in order to become internet stars!

    Or something like that at least…

  2. The wing fragment is that of a katydid (most likely a pheneropterine, judging by the shape of the remainder of the stridulatory apparatus), and the brown bit is the content of the gut. I am not a myrmecologist, but to my untrained eye it looks like a formicine; Camponotus would be my guess.
    Sequence of events: (1) you stepped on a katydid; (2) full of shame, you placed it on the path of ants, hoping that they will eat the evidence of your crime; (3) they eat most of it, but leave the tell-tale bits. Am I in the ballpark?

  3. I think I’m too late for points. Camponotus (Myrmaphaenus) I think. My guess is that this is beneath a bat roost site, and the ants are sampling bat scat for minerals and leftovers. I can’t refute the excellent suggestion of an orthopteran wing.

  4. James.C. Trager

    I’m with Piotr on the katydid, with Ben that it it is a prey remnant of the bat that produced the fecal pellet, but differ in that I would say the ant is a Dolichoderus.
    So–
    Bat catches katydid.
    Bat eats same, but discards wing.
    Bat poops.
    Later, ants happen by and sniff the evidence of the above for edibilty.
    (Ant taxonomist from Missouri studies picture and is frustrated he can’t identify the Dolichoderus to species.)

  5. I think this is a Dolichoderus species which gets feed with excrements. The ants like this, because there are minerals etc. inside. They will transport this piece of excrement to their nest, so it’s marked with a flag, and the myrmecologists can follow the flag to the nest.

  6. Roxana P Arauco

    First of all, I can’t believe I was missing all these mysteries!!!! Ok! I think it’s a Dolichoderus, and I think that these Dolichoderus are recruiting towards a caterpillar carcass. Not sure what the white tissue on the leaf is, maybe just a piece of dry leaf?

  7. Pingback: Answer to the Monday Night Mystery – MYRMECOS - Insect Photography - Insect Pictures

    1. Roxana P Arauco

      hahaha…ahhhhhhh..I see. That whitish tissue on the leaf was the wing of the dead katidid! well played! Thank you, that was a good one!

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