Dr. TAKAO SASAKI [ sasakilab.ecology.uga.edu ] recently joined UGA department of ecology, started a lab to study collective animal behavior! To help him collect study organism Temnothorax ants, we went up to Northern GA. (With the help of Dr. Doug Booher, who is an ant taxonomy expert.)
Looking for rotten nuts around trees not too far away from a public BBQ site, in a state forest.
It is surprisingly easy to find nuts with an ant colony inside. Perhaps it is because we are at the right place.
Views up in the mountains.
So these are basically what we look for. Small holes left by nut-drilling insect indicates that this nut is hallow inside, which means likelihood of the presence of ant colony.
Also, sometimes half rotten nuts with no obvious holes may have colonies inside. So we just collect a lot of nuts on the ground.
Come back to the lab and open them…
About 10% of the nut have ant colonies inside.
What tree is this…? Found my first colony near this tree.
What you would see inside a nut!
Macro-shot of a Temnothorax colony. They are now inside an artificial nest, ready for some cool experiments.
Diversity of nut-drilling insects!