These particular ants are Harvester Ants, and a few weeks ago I discovered a colony of them at the park that I visit regularly. I don't want to go into how excited I was when I found them, but it involved a bit of hopping and squealing and overall giddiness. I've only come across a few Harvester Ant colonies in the past, and that's because their numbers have drastically declined since the introduction of red imported fire ants. The reduction of the Harvester Ant population has also made a negative impact on the population of our state reptile-the Texas Horned Lizard. I'm hoping that the few sightings that I've made in the past few years means that their numbers are rising. These little guys are awesome and I'd love to see the Texas Horned Lizard make a comeback as well. On to more photos!!!
I badly want to invest in a 105mm macro lens so that I can take super crisp macro photos of these little guys without having to get as close as I had to with my 40mm lens. I'm pretty sure the multiple people who passed by me at the park thought I was a complete lunatic. I was on my knees and elbows, bum in the air, and lens about 3 inches or less from the ground for about 15 to 30 minutes. I know I looked ridiculous. So what happens when you plant yourself in the middle of an ant colony? They attack.
Harvester Ants are generally not known to be aggressive, and they pretty much ignored my intrusion for the majority of the time I took photos. Had I not been bitten, I probably would have stayed there for an hour or so just watching them. I only suffered one bite, which was on my neck, and then I got up and realized that there were at least a dozen of them crawling on my sleeves and leggings. I brushed them away and headed to my car to check out the bite and make sure I didn't have any more on me.
The bite was actually pretty painful and it even made my entire jaw feel tight and achy for about an hour! Lesson of the day: Don't lay down in the middle of an ant colony. Common sense I know...but I was desperate for these photos and in the end it was worth it for me :)