In an effort to practice my macro technique at higher magnifications, I made a bee-line for the garden in search of a suitable buggy subject. I tried the common black ants that nest throughout our garden, but unlike the Lasius sp. I had photographed before, these black ants, although larger, were quite capable of walking up the glossy side of the bowl and escaping. I set out to find a more co-operative subject when I spotted these two ants (most likely Formica podzolica) in an apparent tug-of-war on a stepping stone. With a soft-haired brush, I quickly flicked them into the bowl and then withdrew to the patio to begin photographing them. Their sudden tumble into a white world did not seem to phase them in the least, because they continued to grapple, each seeming unable to gain advantage. They seldom stopped moving, often pirouetting together, a dozen legs skittering on a stage of white. When they did pause, I would quickly try to align the camera on the same plane as their bodies, focus on the eyes and then release the shutter. Of the dozens of shots taken, this is one of the few that have both eyes in focus.
And why are they doing this? It could be the result of a chance meeting of two individuals from different nests. I could find no other signs of battle nearby to indicate that there was an all-out raid going on. Perhaps a Myrmecologist could contribute a possible reason for the tug-of-war that persisted for at least 30 minutes and continued after I released them
And thanks to James Glasier at the University of Alberta for the I.D on this pair.
(P.S. actually, these worker ants are ladies, they just aren’t gentlemen…)