Ants and other insects doing what they do.
March 10, 2013 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Ants and other insects doing what they do.
I've spent the last few years trekking around the tropics and doing ant research. Here are the insect photographs I've built up in this time, with relevant taxonomic/natural history information, and some .gifs for good measure. Expect sparse updates as I find and document more neat ant things.

For people interested in photography, it may be of note that all of these pictures were taken with an iPhone, either through a loupe or through a microscope. Dedicated page for .gifs here.
Role: creator
posted by Buckt (6 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I love how irony comes through in toxonomic notation. Excellent photos, and a good read. Thanks!
posted by carsonb at 11:37 AM on March 11, 2013

I really like the idea of using gifs!
posted by dhruva at 2:44 PM on March 11, 2013

The proportions of large and small [worker ants] are actually very similar to the proportions of large and small stars in the universe.

I like the way your mind works.
posted by carsonb at 10:11 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is really cool, but you have to explain the proper technique for digging up a fire ant nest. Inquiring minds want to know.
posted by snofoam at 6:26 PM on March 12, 2013

snofoam: It's explained in the post (several pages back into the archives) Measuring Society. Well, how he got his sample is explained: Dig up colony and place in buckets. Stir. Extract sample. Freeze, then dry, then separate ant from dirt, then analyze and categorize.
posted by carsonb at 7:17 PM on March 12, 2013

Oh wow, thanks so much for the positive response!

To carsonb: back when I wrote my post, my method was to freeze and dry the ants+soil before sorting them, but I later learned that sorting the ants while they're still alive allows me to work much faster and (more importantly) to locate a greater percentage of the ants that I collected. The workers move around, making them visible, and they even collect the tiny hard-to-spot larvae for you! Plus, the live larvae are so much easier to spot - they're turgid and shiny, as opposed to the drab, raisin-y form they take after being frozen and then dried. Once I realized how superior it was to sort the ants alive, I had to make the tough decision of throwing out all the data I collected using the other method and re-doing those samples. It's hard, because that was a few weeks of work and a reasonable amount of my funding lost, but I guess this is how science works. I should also add that the "dig up colony" step involves trying to avoid stings by coating things with talc powder (which the ants slip on) and tucking your pants into your socks, but it still seems to be a part of my standard methods to get stung dozens of times.
posted by Buckt at 11:10 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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