Ant neighbours

Our nearest neighbours in our quiet valley are the ants, various types, various sizes: we leave them alone, and they leave us alone. Tiny ones, huge ones, medium-sized ones. tiny ants2 25-8-14large ant2 25-8-14We have been entertained during many a morning cafelito by the sight of an ant facing up to a large piece of food, be it a piece of bread or a dead wasp. There is the initial discovery of the food, as the single ant assesses its food value and size. Then the fellow workers arrive and as a group they assess the logistics of moving the food to their nest, many of which are accessed through tiny holes between terrace tiles. Next comes the serious work, the dissection and removal, piece by piece. It is a logical process: items too large to fit through hole of nest have to be cut into smaller pieces. Sometimes, an ant will attempt to squeeze in a breadcrumb too large for the access hole; the breadcrumb will sit there for a while, being nibbled at until it falls through the available space. Their ability to work as a team, to shift huge objects is admirable. access to nest1 25-8-14access to nest2 25-8-14Ant colonies can consist from a dozen to several million individuals, but those we most commonly see are the sterile, wingless, female worker ants. They protect themselves by biting, stinging, or spraying with formic acid. We can point to evidence of the biting, the bites of the tiniest ants are worst. One type of small ant has taken to laying its eggs inside plant pots, climbing in through the hole in the bottom of the terracotta pot. This means that when the pot is moved, the eggs scatter and the ants spring into action, carrying one white egg [the size of a pinhead] at a time to a new location. heading off into the ivy 25-8-14a line of tiny ants1 25-8-14tiny ants1 25-8-14There are 9000 species of ant, so I am not about to identify our ant neighbours from two pages in our Insects book. But they are our friends. large ant1 25-8-14large ant3 25-8-145 to remember
una hormiga – an ant
la especie – the species
inicial – initial
el tamaño – the size
el comportamiento – the behaviour

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