This Is Not A
I opened the back door at about five this afternoon to find that the ants were milling madly about again.
"Ah!", I thought, "It's that time again."
Actually, they went crazy yesterday morning as well, but that was because I had just run the strimmer over the grass which was growing between the concrete slabs, and they were hording about trying to find what had been responsible for disturbing the even tenor of their day.
(I hadn't wanted to annoy them, but the weather since the beginning of July has been so putrid that this had been the first chance I'd had to cut the grass - or do any gardening at all, for that matter - in over six weeks.)
I went back inside and fetched my handy-dandy new phone and started filming.
After a couple of minutes, I was struck by two things:
- Unlike in all previous years, the winged ants - having emerged - weren't flying off. Usually, there's a gap of no more than about twenty seconds between them coming above ground and taking flight
- Their wings seemed to be...under-developed, somehow. They certainly didn't look as large or as transparent as I would have expected at this stage in their life-cycle.
Doubtless a case of effect and cause.
But then, after watching them for another fifteen minutes or so, I saw that the ants - winged and unwinged alike - were going back down under the slabs and disappearing back into the colony. That, I had never seen before.
Had they collectively decided that the time for departure was not ripe after all? Were they giving the new queens and their mates a sort of preview of what they were going to be doing? A sort of formic foretaste?
Experienced entomologists will no doubt know.
Nature's full of surprises, isn't it?