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Seen Any Ants

If your interest is bees, dragonflies, beetles, ants or indeed any other type of insect chat about them, ask questions and share your images here.
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MisterT
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Seen Any Ants

Post by MisterT » 03 Apr 2012, 19:02

If, whenever or wherever you are in the Outer Hebrides and see an ant, think Large Blue Butterfly! Although this particular species will never be seen here, their very survival depends upon one species of ant and our ability to positively identify it.

Our friend Rhian Guillem loves ants. She loves them so much that she has developed a method whereby individual ant species can be identified by chemical analysis of their cuticle, something that is essential to the Large Blue Butterfly reintroduction programme.

Rhian has now reached the stage where she would like to broaden her research to other species of ants in order to ascertain how many species can be identified using this method. To this end, she had kindly offered to identify any ants that we find here in the Outer Hebrides, thus recording the species that occur here and their distribution. As very little is known about ants here in the Outer Hebrides, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Should you come across any ants, would you please endeavour to collect a few specimens and record a location or map reference. They can be placed in a small phial or container and frozen and if you contact us by posting a response on this forum, or email ian.thompson2039 AT virgin.net (replace AT with @) and we will be happy to collect them. Should anyone require any phials in advance, we can provide them to anyone who calls.

Any ants that you collect will go towards a three way win. Firstly, the ants that occur in the Outer Hebrides will be identified and recorded in the new Biodiversity Recording Database, the Large Blue Butterfly will be successfully reintroduced into many new areas and you will help Rhian achieve her goal of obtaining her PhD by refining her already successful method of identifying ants.

Many thanks

You can read more on Rhian’s work at http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=1176
& about the complex life cycle of the Large Blue Butterfly at http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/t ... PageId=363

FrankS
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Re: Seen Any Ants

Post by FrankS » 03 May 2012, 20:21

If you send me some phials MR T i will collect plenty ants for you. There is a colony in some sphagnum close to where i live. Will this do for starters?


Frank

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Re: Seen Any Ants

Post by MisterT » 03 May 2012, 22:09

Hi FrankS

This is very kind of you and all specimens gratefully received.

If you would send me your contact details via the email address in the original posting, I will gladly send you some phials

Many thanks
MisterT
Last edited by MisterT on 04 May 2012, 09:33, edited 1 time in total.

FrankS
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Re: Seen Any Ants

Post by FrankS » 03 May 2012, 22:38

e-mail sent

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Re: Seen Any Ants

Post by MisterT » 04 May 2012, 09:27

Thanks for that and phials in the post today.

When collecting you only need a few ants from each nest/location. Once collected they can be placed in the freezer in any sized container and then transferred into the phials later. I have numbered the phials for you and if you would include a map reference for each phial, it would be most helpfull.

Many thanks.

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Re: Seen Any Ants

Post by FrankS » 05 May 2012, 19:12

Phials recieved today thanks. First ants collected, grid ref marked on GPS and F1 phial now in freezer.

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Re: Seen Any Ants

Post by MisterT » 05 May 2012, 21:54

What can I say! That is very efficient of you.
Here is a photograph of what we found at North Loch Eynort the other day. I am realiably informed by Rhian
that it is Myrmica but she is unable to say what species it is. We will have to wait until she recieves the specimen to get a positive ID.
Image
Last edited by MisterT on 01 Jun 2012, 10:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Seen Any Ants

Post by MisterT » 01 Jun 2012, 10:19

Having sent the first batch of specimens for identification, Rhian has confirmed that all but one ant is Myrmica ruginodis. This apparently is a very common ant but despite that, NBN shows no records for that species for Lewis and Harris – until now.

One ant did indeed turn out to be more exciting, that being a Leptothorax acervorum, The Slender Ant, a single queen found on Lewis. This according to NBN is only the second record for the Outer Hebrides, the other being from South Uist.

The following map shows the locations of the ants found to date.

Many thanks to all those who collected the specimens and can I take this opportunity to appeal for more samples.

Image
Last edited by MisterT on 22 Dec 2012, 13:36, edited 1 time in total.

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2012 - Summary

Post by MisterT » 22 Dec 2012, 13:35

The last batch of specimens sent to Rhian have now all been identified and the information is at hand.

There were a further 18 specimens collected from 14 locations, of which 16 proved to be Myrmica ruginodis. Although this is a common ant, there were but a few records for the Western Isles prior to 2012.

The other two specimens proved to be more interesting, being identified as Myrmica scabrinodis, one being found in Lochmaddy, the other at Askernish. This brings the total number of species identified to three. There are a scattering of records for this species here in the Western Isles, the majority being on Bernaray and Barra and I believe these records to be the first for North Uist and the second for South Uist.

At the start of 2012 there were very few records for ants showing their distribution within the Western Isles. Now with your help, as can be seen from the map below, there are many more including a “first” for Lewis, that of Leptothorax acervorum found earlier this year. My thanks go to all those who collected and provided specimens and to Rhian for identifying them all. Rhian has also kindly agreed to assist with the identification next year and so I hope to put out another appeal in 2013.

Location and species found in the Western Isles in 2012
Click on map to view interactive map & then click on pins to see more detailed information
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