Cataglyphis fortis video
Cataglyphis bicolor video
This has been a busy summer, but I have finally had time to work through some photos I took in Morocco in June. I went there with the family to enjoy the sunny beaches of Agadir and exotic Marakesh, but I made sure to take time to look at ants.
Morocco is home to several species of Cataglyphis, which is the most entertaining genus of ants that I have encountered in the wild. They are large, fast, long-legged ants and are the current Featured Genus. Cataglyphis is found in Europe, Africa, and Asia, mostly in hot, arid environments. Some species of Cataglyphis are noted as the most heat-tolerant of all animals. Agadir is plenty hot, with sand that becomes too painful for me to walk on barefooted by midday. I did not see any Silver Sahara Ants (Cataglyphis bombycinus), but I did find Cataglyphis fortis and a member of the Cataglyphis (bicolor group) that I have not yet set under a microscope to identify further.
Here are some photos of Cataglyphis fortis:
Here are some photographs of Cataglyphis (bicolor group):
The C. bicolor ants zipped in and out of their nest opening, moving in short dashes almost too fast to see, as though they were teleporting themselves a few centimeters at a time. Fortunately, they would occasionally pause and make a 360° turn to get their bearings before dashing off again. I tried to use my camera’s video capability to track them as they ran across the sand, but in video mode the camera must be focused manually, and the only viewfinder is the LCD screen on the back of the camera, hard to see in the bright Moroccan sun. So my videos did not turn out as well as I might have hoped.
At one point as I was watching the C. bicolor nest, I saw something dash in and out of the nest that was not an ant. It was a spider, and as I watched it attacked a Cataglyphis ant, biting and dashing away. The ant reacted immediately, stumbling and falling, and in a minute or less was immobile. It lay there, not more than three centimeters from the nest entrance.
After another minute or so, the spider ran up to the ant again, seized it—presumably biting again—and then withdrew.
Another minute passed and the spider seized the ant and dragged it away. The other ants did not react at all to the spider’s presence.
Near the Cataglyphis bicolor nest were some colonies of Messor.
Farther along the path I found these small Myrmecine ants that Doctorant has identified as Cardiocondyla. They are small—under 3mm long:
On a sidewalk near the hotel room I saw a more conventional-looking grasshopper being devoured by Tapinoma:
During an excursion to Marrakesh, I found a Cataglyphis bicolor queen in a rest stop restroom. I scooped her up and brought her home alive—feeling duly guilty about my criminality but unable to resist the thought of raising a colony of Cataglyphis ants that I could watch at home. The queen settled in well to a small enclosure I made for her, but while I was away on a business trip she died. I should have sent her to the more experienced keepers at eusozial.de.