The Daily Paul has been archived. Please see the continuation of the Daily Paul at Popular

Thank you for a great ride, and for 8 years of support!

Comment: In the neotropics (soon to be my home)

(See in situ)

In the neotropics (soon to be my home)

ants account for over 25% of the animal biomass (combined body weight of all animal life) and the leaf-cutter ants are the leading herbivores, taking more than 15% of the fresh vegetation and feeding it to a symbiotic fungus that they in turn consume.

Fortunately at my altitude (over 6,800 feet) the ant population density more resembles what I see in New Hampshire and I have yet to find a termite. In the lowlands of the Amazon Basin however, multi-lane highways of racing soldier ants lined with gape-jawed soldiers and bobbing lines of leaf sections carried by ants are common sights. Termite nests are often seen in trees, sometimes at a considerable height from the forest floor. The bullet ants are a lowland treat to be avoided at all costs. They can sting through clothing and the pain is excruciating. (Many ants actually use a wasp-like stinger for defense while others rely on biting and defensive chemicals such as formic acid.)

On the downside I'm less likely to have a giant anteater visit my property :-[

Ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies are all in the insect order Hymenoptera. Many ant species grow wings when the colony population pressure mounts and they can be seen leaving the nest to seek new habitats. When they land at a good location they gnaw off their wings for greater surface and subsurface mobility.

New Hampshire and Ecuador.