On Monday we dropped by a favorite childhood insect collecting spot, a woodlot atop a hill in upstate New York. The habitat is a mix of mature oak and second growth maple forests surrounding an open field maintained by seasonal mowing. Over the years I’ve recorded around 35 species of ants, including some gems: Stigmatomma dracula ants, Polyergus amazon ants, Formica thatch-mound ants, Temnothorax acorn ants, and others. I have yet to find a single non-native ant. It’s a pretty special place, and one I was happy to revisit.
Mid-October is the end of the season. With the autumn flights of Myrmica & Lasius the year’s last ants have mated and above-ground activity dwindles. Below ground, though, some species remain busy. I spent a couple hours looking under stones and logs, curious about the late-season ants, finding a surprising amount of activity from one species in particular: Lasius nearcticus, a common but poorly-studied subterranean ant. Below are photos of these attractive yellow ants, along with photos a few others.