winged female harvester ant

Ants take wing!

By Jennifer Macke

Right now is a good time to observe winged ants. In summer, mostly from late June through early August, ant colonies produce winged ants, called alates. Both male and female alates are produced, and their purpose is to make new colonies. They emerge from the ant colony, fly around, and mate in mid-air. When the mated female returns to the ground, she sheds her wings and walks around looking for a place to make a nest.

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Several female harvester ants (red ants with wings) emerging from an ant hill.

 

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Clam shrimp under the microscope

An excited family came to the nature center on Friday with an interesting discovery. While hiking in Pueblo Canyon, they spotted a pool of water full of something orange and moving! They put some in a bottle and brought it to look under our HD video-microscope. We were all shocked to see little animals zipping around at lightning speed!

The teeny creatures they found are clam shrimp. If you look closely at the video, you can see their clam-like shape. Clam shrimp are a type of crustacean, closely related to fairy shrimp, and a bit more distantly related to the shrimp we eat at the table. Like many shrimp, they appear pink or orange due to the presence of carotenoids, which are a group of orange pigments that also give carrots their color.

A huge thank you to the family for sharing their unique discovery with us at the Los Alamos Nature Center! We encourage everyone to bring these natural finds to us and have a closer look under our microscope!