Reader photos: an ant melee

MrILoveTheAnts sends in this shot of two pavement ant colonies fighting for territory:

These epic sidewalk battles normally sprawl to about the size of a dinner plate, but up close they are among the Northern Hemisphere’s most spectacular insect phenomena.

2 thoughts on “Reader photos: an ant melee”

  1. Thinking back on my youth, I think I was in the middle of one in the parking lot of my Aunt’s chinese restaurant.

  2. When I was a child, these ants held their epic battles on the kitchen floor. My parents were quite alarmed! Later as a grad student, I noticed none of the ants appeared to be injured in the melee. No point in having casualties if the result of the battle is for the colonies to merge under the queen of the larger colony. Casualties would weaken the combined colony. This is reminiscent of the tournaments held by Myrmecocystus. Schlick-Steiner et al (Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40 (2006) 259–273) found that North American pavement ants are an undescribed species of the Tetramorium caespitum/impurum complex.

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