This post is kind of a follow-up to my last blog about Western thatching ants (Formica obscuripes) (The ants and the bumble bee’s bum: more macro photography of western thatching ants). While I was taking the pictures I used in that post, one small ant discovered me and took exception to my presence. I didn’t notice it until it crawled onto my thumb and started biting with great gusto! Happily, these ants don’t have a very fierce bite. There was no pain, but just a fairly gentle pinching. It may not have been causing any damage, but the ant was incredibly persistent—I couldn’t help but imagine it growling away like a miniature terrier as it determinedly tugged away on my thumb. I took a few photos (below), but unfortunately the ant was biting my right thumb. I’m right-handed and operating my camera with just my left hand turned out to require a level of dexterity that was almost beyond me. Hence they aren’t really the greatest pictures…but they get the point across.
After the ant had chewed on me for a while, I encouraged it to go back to work (I blew it off) and decided to try and get a few more—and—better, pictures. I tapped the ant hill with a twig and sure enough a couple of ants immediately grabbed it. One of the ants lost interest pretty quickly and dropped off. But the other ant continued to bite ferociously and even folded it’s abdomen under to spray formic acid at the sick! It was fascinating to see how fierce this little critter was. I took a number of pictures (see below and above) and watched for a bit.
After several minutes the ant showed no signs of losing interest, which is amazing considering the stick was completely inert. I eventually put the twig down and went off to find more critters to photograph. For all I know that little and is still attacking the twig…
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus E-620 digital SLR
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Settings: manual exposure (F16 @ 1/60 sec)
Lighting: Olympus RF-11 ring flash (1/2 power)