Ants in the dust…

Ants in the dust…

 

The drought continues here on the plains. Today at midday I stopped by the harvester ant nest to check on how they were doing. While most of the other animals were resting almost comatose in the shade due to the burning heat, the ants were hard at work.

 

 harvester-dust-lr1.jpg

 

 harvester-dust-lr3.jpg

 

 

 

They were working hard at scrounging whatever they could find out on the parched, overgrazed grassland. The harvester ants typically feed on the seeds of grasses. They diligently collect these from the surrounding areas and carefully carry them back to their nest. However, at the moment there is hardly any grass around, let along grass seeds, as everything has been nibbled away by the voracious mouths of cattle. Despite their desperate attempts to graze, the cattle are still dying in large numbers.

 

 drought-cow-kitengela-lr1.jpg

 

 

 

The ants were still trying to find food out in the midday sun nonetheless. I watched them bringing back all manner of things to their nest. In these tough times beggars can’t be choosers. Here is schematic sketch of their nest in the dust…

 

messor-nest-lr1.jpg

 

harvester-dust-lr11.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

They brought back tiny dried bits of grass, no more than mere wisps of dessicated leaves. A few lucky ants had found the odd large seed or tiny pod from one of the many herbs that grow hidden in clefts among the rocks where mouths and hooves can’t reach them. Some managed to find the odd wisp of grass seed that was tucked away in a rocky crack out of reach to hungry cows…

 

 harvester-dust-lr4.jpg

harvester-dust-lr5.jpg

 

 

 

A few lucky ants even managed to catch the odd item of prey – though these were mainly hapless bugs who themselves had succumbed to the heat and drought.

 

After just a few minutes of watching them I was so hot and starting to feel dizzy from the glare. I walked away from the nest seeking scant shade and wondering how life just keeps on going even in the face of such adversity. I hope that we get some rain soon!

 

More from the wonderful world of bugs soon.

9 thoughts on “Ants in the dust…

  1. Again, the macro photos are great!! The photo of that poor cow – is he propped up? Looks like it. Praying for rain for all of Kenya!

  2. Hi,
    Was driving home from work in Dubai listening to you on the BBC radio. Really interesting story and thought I would check out your photos. I like photography myself.
    Great macro shots. And awesome that you can upload right from the scene.

    great stuff
    Patrick (Ireland, Dubai)

  3. Hello Dino,
    I was driving through the Snowdonia Mountains last night while listening to BBC Radio 4 and I was very impressed by your feature. You came over really well and I was intrigued by your exploits and adventures so I decided to look up your blog. Your enthusiasm for your profession and your explanation of how you use online technology was fabulous, I could almost see it.
    Keep up the good work,
    Yours,
    Steve Price.

  4. Hi Dino
    I live in New Zealand and heard you on a podcast of DigitalPlanet. Your commentary competely hooked me – your voice and delivery are great for radio. You wove your environment , including the windmill and the baboon proofing, into the story perfectly.
    Of course I then looked up your blog, and followed other links to your work. You are such a natural science communicator I hope many more people get to connect with you.
    Regards
    Alison Anderson
    Wellington NZ

  5. Hi Dino,
    I too heard your piece on the BBC and was fascinated. Your voice was so intriguing and I am always interested in anyone out there looking at insects! I am anxious to read more of your observations.
    Eager for more,
    Janice
    Boulder, Colorado

  6. Hi Dino

    Just listening to Digital Planet on podcast as I was driving to work this morning. I’m not a fan of insects myself but I thought your commentary was superb. I enjoy educational, nature and science broadcasting immensely and hope that the BBC work with you again in the future.

    Best wishes from Maine, up in the northeast of the USA.
    Owen.

Leave a Comment