One of the insects I tracked at La Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina last weekend was this twig ant in the genus Pseudomyrmex. I had noticed these slender, wasp-like ants previously on trips to the U.S. desert southwest, but it wasn’t until I read a couple of recent posts about them at Myrmecos and 6legs2many that I knew specifically what they were.
Alex characterizes these ants as “delightfully gentle, quirky little insects.” What he didn’t mention is how frenetic and unceasing they are as they forage amongst the shrubbery. I must have taken a couple dozen shots of several individuals over the course of the day, deleting every single one on the spot because I couldn’t get a clear, close, focused, nicely composed, unobstructed image. Their habit of crawling rapidly along slender twigs is problematic enough, with little opportunity to brace the camera against anything steady and spend time composing the shot. Add to that the frequently thorny nature of the trees they were roaming and their annoying habit of darting around to the backside of whatever twig they were on whilst trying to follow them in the viewfinder, and I almost decided I’d met my match and could do without the shot. In the latter part of the day I encountered this individual, and as I already had my 65mm lens mounted I decided to give it another try. I can’t say that I actually figured out the secret to getting the shot, but rather that I just lucked out and happened to have hit the shutter release at just the right moment – and with reasonable focus – as I tracked the ant along the branch on which it was crawling. It was the only shot of one of these ants that stayed on the card that day.
The genus is huge, with 209 species occurring primarily throughout the Neotropics. As a result, it would be foolish for me to even attempt a species ID. Still, I can’t help noticing its great resemblance to this photo of Pseudomyrmex phyllophilus, taken by Alex in – you guessed it, Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’ll wait for the correction, but in the off-chance that I’m right I think I deserve points on somebody’s scorecard!
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011