Honey Pots

Buds are beginning to break on trees, and things are changing quickly. I saw this group of ants that were very interested in a broken tip of a new branch. They appear to be collecting sap for transport back to their nest. One of the ants near the top right of the group has a distended abdomen, apparently caused by filling up with sap from the plant.

The worker ant at the bottom of the photograph above has an abdomen full of sap and is heading back to the nest.

Here is a closeup of the ant pictured in the photograph above. I am no expert on ant identification, but this one is probably a species in the genus Myrmecocystus, one of the “honeypot” ants. These ants store their food in the living bodies of some of their compatriots. Inside the nest the “honeypots” become so large and distended that they are unable to move about. They hang about in the nest and their sole purpose is to provide nourishment on demand to their fellow nest mates. The ant pictured is transporting sap back to the nest where it will transfer it to one of the honeypots.

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