At noon, winged ants amass at the nest entrance in my front yard.
As a sign of how prolonged the 2013-14 winter has been, the Prenolepis imparis winter ant mating flights did not occur here in Urbana until yesterday. That’s April 10th. The last time I photographed Prenolepis flights was in 2012- the same colony- and the ants flew a whole month earlier, on March 12.
I took a break from the email backlog (sorry! I know some of you are waiting on things from me, but it’s been a busy, busy month) to shoot the action. I hope you enjoy this batch of photos.
The queens and males climb nearby grass blades and some clumsily take to the air. Several queens are divebombed by incoming males- I presume from other colonies- and mate near their natal nest.
Something about this photograph captures the myrmecological community’s traditional attitude about the biology and taxonomy of male ants.
More ant sexytime.
Yet more sexytime.
Following the flights, young queens drop their wings and head off to find a suitable place to start a new colony.