Forelius and Solenopsis

tetramorium
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tetramorium
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Joined: 2:56 AM - May 16, 2001

12:06 PM - Oct 22, 2002 #1

Hi All -

I've been watching a kind of funny thing going on between Forelius and Solenopsis xyloni over the last month or so.(Phoenix, AZ, Oct 2002). Many of the Forelius nests have acquired middens that seem to be comprised mostly of Solenopsis skeletons:



I haven't noticed this earlier in the year, but it seems like many of the "yard and sidewalk" Forelius nests have the Solenopsis skeleton middens lately. I'm not really sure why, but perhaps the Solenopsis are spending more time around the Forleius nests(?). It is pretty common to see the Solenopsis rifling through the Forelius middens and nest entrances in the cooler hours of the day. Then, as it warms up a bit, Forelius activity increases and the (living) Solenopsis vacate the premises. Here are a couple of Forelius spraying a Solenopsis. These photos were staged, the Solenopsis volunteered by stinging while I was taking photos.





Forelius working on their nests...the size of the rocks they move around is amazing.




Another kind of interesting thing, there is a very small ( < 1 mm) insect that hangs around the nests. The insect is striped black and white, and is quite hairy. I think it might be a thrips...my attempts at capturing them have not been very successful. I think I may be inhaling them . These insects are not always associated with ants, but seem to be more numerous near ants (both Solenopsis and Forelius). This may be just because I look harder near ants, though. I've seen them enter and exit Solenopsis nests. The insects run away from the ants if they come into contact with them.







In this one, you can see the thrips(?) in the upper left and a Forelius head in the lower right.



I think the bug below is a "sharpshooter", a type of leafhopper. They are hitting the brittlebush pretty hard right now, leaving big sticky pools of honeydew on the leaves which Forelius and Solenopsis are enjoying. I was surprised at how brightly colored they were.


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Dr Ant
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Dr Ant
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1:44 PM - Oct 22, 2002 #2

Cool pics and good story, as we've come to expect from you. (Henceforth, you'll have to be on guard to live up to the reputation. )

The little stripy insect is an entomobryid collebolan, a.k.a. springtail.

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Mrmacophyl
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6:23 PM - Oct 22, 2002 #3

Excellent as always, I have found that Solenopsis seem to always make up a large part of the Forelius middens, I have never figured out if it is just because the Forelius scavenge like crazy or if they actually capture the Solenopsis. By the way to prevent inhalation hazards get yourself a filter like I have on my aspirator *L* sure sucks though doesn't it" The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny....'" Isaac Asimov:
"Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian."
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tetramorium
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tetramorium
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8:04 PM - Oct 22, 2002 #4

Thanks guys.

Collembola! I thought the stripy/hairy parts were wings...didn't occur to me that it could be a springtail. Makes sense. Thanks, I'll try harder to catch one. *After* getting a filter
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kalimant
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Joined: 7:47 AM - Sep 13, 2001

11:30 PM - Oct 22, 2002 #5

gruesome pics of those bodies, tetramorium, but great pics, as usual...."mommy, i wanna be like tetramorium when i grow up!"

sigh....let's try again with my own pics...gotta find some magnifying lens for that darn sony digital camera...
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Mrmacophyl
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11:45 PM - Oct 22, 2002 #6

try the following site for close up lenses www02.bhphotovideo.com/de...7BDD45760, be adivsed though they only ship fedex I think it is which can be a pain." The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny....'" Isaac Asimov:
"Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian."
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tetramorium
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tetramorium
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4:35 PM - Oct 28, 2002 #7

I finally caught one of the black-and-white insects - you guys are right, the insects are indeed Collembolans(springtails).





The forked appendage on the back is a furculum - it's how the springtail jumps. And jump they do - the motion is so rapid that is almost as if they teleport themselves.



The ventral surface of the furculum has transverse ribbing on it - the ribbing may be in two parallel rows, it was hard to tell. The leaflike objects next to the furculum are scales that came off of the springtail


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Mrmacophyl
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7:57 PM - Oct 28, 2002 #8

Wow great photos." The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny....'" Isaac Asimov:
"Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian."
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