Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Mexico: Ants II

Back here, I introduced you to the busy little red ant superhighway in front of my stoop. Which may or may not be fire ants, but I'm leaning toward not.

I'm feeling uncomfortable because a neighbor, when I pointed out the ants as part of a conversation, i.e. "huh, whaddaya think about these ants? what kind do you think they are?" she smeared a section of the ant highway with her foot. Twice. A bit of gratuitous violence in my mind. They weren't impinging on my territory (yet), so I was just leaving them alone.

And it's not like I don't quickly exterminate critters that invade my house. The Castle Doctrine, you know. Just the other day, a millipede sort of thing was in my bathroom, and I dispatched it quickly. As I did that leggy spider in my bathtub a couple of weeks ago.

When I stepped out for a walk this afternoon, I saw the sprinklers were going and wetting down the sidewalk in front of my stoop. So I looked to see how my little red ants were dealing with that, and it was rather interesting. They went into the water a piece, then futzed around in a confused way, and then retreated to dry pavement.

 All those specks are ants.

I took a walk down a boulevard and saw on the mostly-dirt area on my right a colony of largish ants. They were going in and coming out of a tiny ant-cave opening.

You can't see the ants, but they're there. I find this kind of fascinating because when I'd mentioned the possibility of fire ants to the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park naturalist, he said that in the high desert (where I am in Alamogordo), there aren't earthworms to aerate the soil. In the high desert, there are ants that do that. And an issue with fire ants is that they chase out the soil-aerating ants, so there's a collateral damage effect on the soil where fire ants are prevalent.

Speaking of ants, there are about 300 species and subspecies of ants in New Mexico. This compares to 149 in Missouri.

This website here gives me way too personal a close-up of New Mexico ants. Like this:

Credit: Antweb New Mexico

I expect I'll be doing more reporting on the ant situation in New Mexico, although I don't know why.

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