These busy Red Harvester Ants look like they are rushing toward the entrance to an underground womb. Indeed, their precious eggs lie hidden just beneath the surface of the ground, and the colony�s main goal is to ensure its survival. Here, they are busy harvesting seeds, which is where they derive the title of harvester.
Ants are one of the planet�s most successful organisms. Estimates of their worldwide biomass exceed 10% of all animals, likely outweighing humans. Combined with worms, they may also move more soil than humans; that�s a lot of soil, when you consider all that we move for our community development, farms and industries!
It is the Harvester Ants� cooperative, diligent and adaptive nature that gives them an edge on survival. Still, over the years, this species� numbers have been declining, which has been attributed to competition for food with the invasive Red Imported Fire Ant. Therefore we are encouraged not to use insecticides on the Harvesters, as they are a chief source of food for lizards and other desert life.
Look closer at their at orderly trails and they may resemble our highways at rush hour. And there goes that sneaky beetle again, heading for the colony! Could it be on a mission for a snack? As pesky as ants can be, they fulfill many roles in our environment, and they are more like humans than we might imagine. Although they are small, each individual is a living being, carrying out its destiny. You, too, may find yourself sidestepping their tidy trails while on your next nature walk.
November 7th, 2009
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