Nov 4, 2009

Mitey Ants

Brian's compost heap is the scene of much ant-based drama. Here we have an ant beset by a herd of mites. Whether the mites are just along for the ride (benign phoresy) or feeding off the ant, I don't know.

Photo source: Brian Valentine




















But the ants know how to take care of themselves. Here we have a pair grooming and de-miting one another. I imagine the ants have to work fast; the mites probably hop right back on if you're not quick enough -- kind of like trying to peel a toddler off your lower legs when she's got it in her mind that you've got candy she wants. Peel and run.

Photo source: Brian Valentine

4 comments:

John Gunn said...

That is incredible that they "groom" each other. Like primates. I like the "mitey" pun too. Ha.

alcyonidae said...

John:
It's actually pretty amazing how badly we seem to have underestimated invertebrate intelligence. Jumping spider brains, for instance, seem to be capable of everything a lion brain can do. Larger animals have larger brains, but not necessarily more complicated ones, because most of the connections are redundant. Here's a good article that just came out on the subject:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091117124009.htm

-morgan

twilightfan said...

that looks soooo werid and cool at the same time i soo want to foleow you guys!

renato.fabro said...

Legal 8)