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The Third Annual New Jersey Ant Together


23 replies to this topic

#1 Offline MrILoveTheAnts - Posted May 18 2014 - 10:33 AM

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July 19th (Saturday) we'll be hosting the Third Annual New Jersey Ant Together! This year's location list includes Allaire State Park, Turkey Swamp Park, and a section of the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area. Map

Please post down below if you plan on going or not. We'll exchange phone numbers through the PM system before hand to keep in touch via Text message. If we have to cancel due to weather... well I'll leave it in the hands of WeatherAnt when to reschedule because I'll be heading to Ants of the Southwest later that week.

We should try to meet at our first location, Allaire State Park between 8:30am and 9:00am. They have one main parking lot that is paved, I'm told, and multiple other locations that are not. There might be a $5 fee but I believe that's only for Memorial Day Weekend.  We chose this location because we're looking for another population of Northern Fungus Farming Ants, Trachymyrmex septentrionalis. I'm told the soil consistency here is mostly sandy so that sounds right for them. Chances are somewhere in the 3,000 acres and 20 miles of trails we'll find something of interest.
4265 Atlantic Ave.
Farmingdale, NJ 07727

At some point we'll break for lunch, probably at a dinner or fast food. Then we'll check out the other two locations: Turkey Swamp Park for the Formica exsectoides mounds (assuming we haven't found another population of those too). And then our third spot right down the street from Six Flags Great Adventure where we found the Northern Fungus Farming Ants last year.
 
I'll be providing a cooler full of bottled water. Feel free to bring whatever you like. A small hand shovel is all that's require for digging. We won't be digging up colonies of anything but if we find queens feel free to collect. I'll be collecting specimens as I always do. Also remember we'll be out doors so dress for ticks, mosquito, and chiggers. They do make Tick repellant clothing, though usually you have to order it online. Also you shouldn't be picking up venomous snakes or messing with the wildlife.

Fun Fact: Only 1% of deer ticks actually carry Lyme disease. But it is common where present so take precaution.

Participants should at least be 18 and able to provide their own transportation. This is on par with a hiking trip.

Sound good?


Edited by MrILoveTheAnts, June 13 2014 - 1:34 PM.


#2 Offline Crystals - Posted May 18 2014 - 5:36 PM

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It does sound good.  A pity that I am much too far away to join in.


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#3 Offline MrILoveTheAnts - Posted June 1 2014 - 11:56 AM

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Weatherant over on the Myrmecology and Antfarm forum would prefer it take place on Sunday the 20th, so we're going to try and accomidate him. If it's looking like bad weather though, we'll see if we can hold it on the 19th still and just focus on the areas he's been to in previous years, with potentially the anting trip continued on Sunday the 20th with him in the new location.



#4 Offline WeatherAnt - Posted June 1 2014 - 1:21 PM

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Weatherant over on the Myrmecology and Antfarm forum would prefer it take place on Sunday the 20th, so we're going to try and accomidate him. If it's looking like bad weather though, we'll see if we can hold it on the 19th still and just focus on the areas he's been to in previous years, with potentially the anting trip continued on Sunday the 20th with him in the new location.

The same WeatherAnt here too. :)



#5 Offline MrILoveTheAnts - Posted July 23 2014 - 7:11 PM

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Allair State Park
HummingbirdFeeder.jpg
Hummingbirdtree.jpg
This was a new location but I could already tell it was a promising one from the display of hummingbird attracting plants right next to the parking lot. There were several people with some professional-looking cameras perched out here taking pictures of all the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds whizzing about. Despite an impressive floral display of Bee Balm, Monardia, and Trumpet Vine, they all seemed to huddle around this one hummingbird feeder which was also attracting all the bumblebees.

JapaneseStiltGrass.jpg
Early on though I was sad to see a few invasive plants. Japanese Stilt Grass seemed to be the most out of control but seemed to be restricted along the forest edge. There was also a patch of Japanese Knotweed but it was unusually small and seemingly under control. There were a few stands of Wine Berry too which a few of us ate, and liked.

Pheidolemajors.jpg
All three species of Pheidole that occur in NJ were present. Weather Ant seemed able to name them at a glance. 

Camponotusamericanusmound.jpg
Camponotusamericanuspennsylvanicus.jpg
Camponotus americanus fairly well represented here though not too common. C. pennsylvanicus too, whereas everywhere else we've gone it seemed C. chromaiodes was the dominant species.

Camponotuschromcolony.jpg
Camponotus chomaiodes was here too of course but we didn't notice any adult colonies, just young ones starting out. Here we felt the need to collect one after damaging the founding chamber beyond repair directly next to an enormous Crematogaster cf. cerasi colony. It seemed somewhat ethical at the time to collect it.

Crematogastercerasimales.jpg
Crematogastercerasiroach.jpg
Crematogasterpupa.jpg
Crematogasteracrobatants.jpg
Crematogaster cf. cerasi wasn't very active, but we did stumble upon an enormous nest that seemed to inhabit the entirety of the under bark to an enormous tree that had fallen.

Lasiusmurphyiqueen.jpg
Lasius murphyi had their nest entrances open in preparation for nuptial flights, possibly just after we left or later on in the week. Here you can see an alate queen with the distinguishing scruff of orange hairs on the face.

Aphaenogastersp.jpg
There were Aphaenogaster nests aplenty here and we found more than one colony with their queens right under a log. I believe I have video of this but not images. 
 
FungusBloom.jpg
Enormous cabbage-like fungal blooms were drawing in waves of vinegar flies, and carrion beetles. I saw an Aphaenogaster or two savaging about inside the folds but found it hard to film. The slightest disturbance to the fungus and spores would cloud out in visible waves.

HuntingWasp.jpg
Here is some type of large wasp, a solitary parasite of huge spiders I assume. We saw more than one species of hunting wasp that day.


 



#6 Offline MrILoveTheAnts - Posted July 23 2014 - 7:11 PM

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Turkey Swamp Park
ConeAnts.jpg
I keep forgetting the name of these. Cone Ants? The "tooth" like hump is distinguishing for the genus. We only know this ant from one tree in the parking lot to this place and it's likely the same colony we found of them last year. I wonder if they don't have some association with that particular tree. I thought it was a black cherry tree but the fruit is wrong, occurring as a single berry sparsely at the ends of branches that had flowered.

DungBeetle.jpg
DungBeetle2.jpg
We saw this huge black beetle that I assumed was some type of June Beetle I'm not familiar with.... then Weather Ant caught it with his bare hands and I now realize it's some type of Dung Beetle... I believe they have or allow horse back riding at this place as I recall seeing horses a few years ago.

Formicaexsectoidesmoth.jpg
Formicaexsectoidesmoth2.jpg
Formicaexsectoidescaterpillarhead.jpg

IFormicaexsectoidessmallmound.jpg
FormicaexsectoidesMoundAnter.jpg
FormicaexsectoidesMotherMound.jpg
Of course a trip to Turkey Swamp Park wouldn't be complete without visiting the Formica exsectoides mounds which were extremely active this years. Foragers were all over the place with roughly one in fifty of them hauling in a caterpillar or some sort of food. And one of the mounds seemed to be in the process of setting up a satellite colony somewhere in the thickets of wild blueberry, deer-berry, and bramble. And that's when I started to notice the queens.

I couldn't help but snag one for myself. If she dies I'll put her into the alcohol with the others, if she lives ... well I wouldn't mind having a 3' tall mound of ants out in the yard. The workers we collected seemed to die off slowly, presumably a result of formic acid poisoning. The queen I snagged actually looked like she was going to die immediately from such symptoms but tossing her on a damp cotton ball in a test tube (which she almost drown on) seems to have saved her life, for now.

FormicaexsectoidesQueen3.jpg
FormicaexsectoidesQueen4.jpg
FormicaexsectoidesQueen.jpg
FormicaexsectoidesQueen2.jpg
Judging from the fresh wing scars, and I have a video where I swear you can make out a worker removing the wings to one queen, I'd say we had just missed a nuptial flight that morning. (Guess where our first location to the 4th Annual NJ Ant Together is being held.) In the absence of Formica exsectoides workers I've read that queens of this species are social parasites of other Formica colonies, which don't always take but when they do they often result in the establishment of a new "super" colony.

AcornAntNestTemnothorax.jpg
The home to a colony of Temnothorax.

SlimeLikePlant.jpg
Slimelikeplant2.jpg
Slimelikeplant3.jpg
Farther down the trail we came across this odd sort of plant-life. I took it for a bog at first but then realized it was all some type of moss-ish plant that seems to emerge every year, push up through the leaf litter by the millions and to form this slime-like bloom of green that seems to have choked out all the understory shrubs. Walking on it felt strange and bouncy. You can hear the crunch of the leaf litter below whatever this is. We didn't stay long but Antshaman found some ants on (in?) it. 

NewEnglandBuckMoth.jpg
I mistook this for a Woolly Bear, but it turns out to be a Buck Moth, Hemileuca maia. The black spikes are hollow and shatter easily, giving the hungry bird the sensation of swallowing broken glass. The white parts are likely coated with poison too. Caterpillars like these can easily kill the birds that attempt to eat them. Thankfully I did not trigger any of these defenses when briefly handling it.


Prospertown Lake
TrechyCaterpillarFrass.jpg
Trachymyrmex septentrionalis was the main reason for our visit here but they weren't all that active. I didn't see too many colonies of them at all, and wonder if the harsh winter we had didn't do some of them in.

MyrmicaCracker.jpg
Someone was feeding the geese crackers but these ants took a liking to them as well. We thought they were Aphaenogaster at first but now looking at them I'm swaying towards Myrmica from the texture on the mesosoma.

MonarchHairySwampMilkweed.jpg
Saw my first Monarch Butterfly of the season here. The milkweed is a variety of the common Swamp Milkweed, known as Hairy Swamp Milkweed, which is the same plant but has hairy leaves and stem, and is more in the habit of sending up only one shoot from its roots as opposed to multiple ones we see in the true species. I've been meaning to collect seeds to this.



#7 Offline dspdrew - Posted July 23 2014 - 7:55 PM

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Awesome. Looks like fun as always. How many people showed up this year?

#8 Offline Mercutia - Posted July 23 2014 - 8:15 PM

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Ahh, I'm always so jealous of these ant togethers. The Crematogaster cerasi nest looks wicked awesome.



#9 Offline MegaMyrmex - Posted October 3 2017 - 3:43 AM

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I know that this is a really old post but still the beetle is an osmoderma scabra or eremicola or eremita. Good find!
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Current colonies-

 

- 2 Camponotus chromaoides(1 colony has 4 workers, other 1 worker) 

- 1 Tetramorium immigrans colony(7 workers)

- 1 Aphaenogaster sp. queen(founding colony)

- 2 Lasius claviger queens with host workers. They don't seem to be doing well and workers are dying off :( 

- And a whole lot of Crematogaster queens

 

Species checklist(ants found so far)-

- Aphaenogaster teneseensis

- Aphaenogaster picea

- Aphaenogaster sp.

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus

- Camponotus castaneus

- Camponotus chromaoides

- Camponotus nearcticus

- Camponotus pennsylvanicus

- Camponotus subbarbatus

- Colobopsis impressus(dead queen... :*(

- Crematogaster sp.

- Formica pallidefulva

- Formica sanguinea

- Formica subsericea

- Hypoponera sp.

- Lasius claviger

- Lasius umbratus

- Lasius neoniger

- Lasius sp.

- Monomorium minimum

- Myrmica sp.

- Nylanderia flavipes

- Pheidole morrisi

- Pheidole bicarinata

- Pheidole dentata(all pheidole found were workers only :( )

- Ponera pennsylvanica

- Prenolepis imparis

- Strumigenys rostrate

​- Stigmatomma pallipes :dance2:  :dance: 

- Tetramorium immigrans

- Tapinoma sessile

 

Queens/colonies to Look for-

- Pheidole

- Trachymyrmex septentrionalis

- Polyergus

- Dolichoderus

- Myrmica

- Stigmatomma pallipes


#10 Offline MrILoveTheAnts - Posted October 7 2017 - 3:26 PM

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I know that this is a really old post but still the beetle is an osmoderma scabra or eremicola or eremita. Good find!

 

Thanks Matt caught it mid flight with his hands if I recall right. We occasionally find Tiger Beetles on these trips too (the six spotted one mostly). 



#11 Offline gcsnelling - Posted October 7 2017 - 3:58 PM

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The fungus looks like a chicken of the woods, considered by many to be a real good eating mushroom. and the funny hump backed ants are Dolichoderus.


Edited by gcsnelling, October 7 2017 - 4:00 PM.


#12 Online nurbs - Posted October 7 2017 - 8:27 PM

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Those ant get togethers sound fun. I know this post was awhile back, but wish I could have joined!


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#13 Offline WeatherAnt - Posted October 7 2017 - 11:13 PM

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I know that this is a really old post but still the beetle is an osmoderma scabra or eremicola or eremita. Good find!

 

Thanks Matt caught it mid flight with his hands if I recall right. We occasionally find Tiger Beetles on these trips too (the six spotted one mostly). 

 

 

That's probably exactly how it happened hahah. 


Those ant get togethers sound fun. I know this post was awhile back, but wish I could have joined!

Maybe for the next one?



#14 Offline Evanthomas89 - Posted October 8 2017 - 5:30 AM

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Those ant get togethers sound fun. I know this post was awhile back, but wish I could have joined!

 

Are you from NJ as well? We should create a group or thread where all the NJ people can get together and plan outings. 


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#15 Offline MegaMyrmex - Posted October 8 2017 - 6:48 AM

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No, MD, but I am a beetle fanatic. I'm so jealous about the trachymyrmex, I can never find them here in Maryland!!!
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Current colonies-

 

- 2 Camponotus chromaoides(1 colony has 4 workers, other 1 worker) 

- 1 Tetramorium immigrans colony(7 workers)

- 1 Aphaenogaster sp. queen(founding colony)

- 2 Lasius claviger queens with host workers. They don't seem to be doing well and workers are dying off :( 

- And a whole lot of Crematogaster queens

 

Species checklist(ants found so far)-

- Aphaenogaster teneseensis

- Aphaenogaster picea

- Aphaenogaster sp.

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus

- Camponotus castaneus

- Camponotus chromaoides

- Camponotus nearcticus

- Camponotus pennsylvanicus

- Camponotus subbarbatus

- Colobopsis impressus(dead queen... :*(

- Crematogaster sp.

- Formica pallidefulva

- Formica sanguinea

- Formica subsericea

- Hypoponera sp.

- Lasius claviger

- Lasius umbratus

- Lasius neoniger

- Lasius sp.

- Monomorium minimum

- Myrmica sp.

- Nylanderia flavipes

- Pheidole morrisi

- Pheidole bicarinata

- Pheidole dentata(all pheidole found were workers only :( )

- Ponera pennsylvanica

- Prenolepis imparis

- Strumigenys rostrate

​- Stigmatomma pallipes :dance2:  :dance: 

- Tetramorium immigrans

- Tapinoma sessile

 

Queens/colonies to Look for-

- Pheidole

- Trachymyrmex septentrionalis

- Polyergus

- Dolichoderus

- Myrmica

- Stigmatomma pallipes


#16 Offline Evanthomas89 - Posted October 8 2017 - 7:08 AM

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No, MD, but I am a beetle fanatic. I'm so jealous about the trachymyrmex, I can never find them here in Maryland!!!

 

Did you see in my video the sort of pine shrubby area with sandy soil that they live in? You have any areas like that near you? 


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#17 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 8 2017 - 11:46 AM

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Some day you all need to come to the Southwest. We basically have what's essentially the same thing about 10 times a year here in Southern California.



#18 Offline T.C. - Posted October 8 2017 - 1:09 PM

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Some day you all need to come to the Southwest. We basically have what's essentially the same thing about 10 times a year here in Southern California.


I'm hoping to head down there next anting season.

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#19 Offline Evanthomas89 - Posted October 8 2017 - 4:49 PM

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There shouldn't be any reason for us not to meet up a few times a year here in NJ as well, our season is shorter and we all have jobs and get busy but I'd love to meet up maybe three or four times over the season. 


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#20 Offline WeatherAnt - Posted October 9 2017 - 10:09 AM

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There shouldn't be any reason for us not to meet up a few times a year here in NJ as well, our season is shorter and we all have jobs and get busy but I'd love to meet up maybe three or four times over the season. 

I'm on the west coast now, so I'm not home as often. I missed it this year but next year I'll be there for an ant-together. It'll take some planning but I think it can easily happen. 


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