Readers’ wildlife photos

We have an ant swarm today! What is that? Well, ants swarm for several reasons, but the one below is undoubtedly a mass egress to mate and found a new colony, as described here.  Reader Roger from St. Cloud, Minnesota describes what he saw—and sent some photos:

Earlier this afternoon I noticed a mass of yellow ants coming up through my decking… and then two morphs of winged ones started appearing. Not long after that came the swarming. I believe they’re Citronella Ants Lasius claviger. Larger winged ones are females; smaller ones are the males. The wingless ones are the workers. The winged ants would emerge from under the decking, pause a while at the edge, then move off and start flexing their wings. After a few tries they’d take flight.
And then just a few feet away at the edge of the deck another species of tiny black ant (identity unknown) was also swarming. A little research suggested that rain stimulates this behavior and we had about 2-3” this week here in central Minnesota.
One of the citronella females wandered in among the others and promptly got taken down by several of the workers.
And for the birders, here are three photos from one of our youngest contributors, Jamie Blilie (we have more in the works). From his dad, Jim Blilie:
My son Jamie (13) has been busy with his camera this summer (Canon Powershot SX530 HS, “superzoom” camera).
This past weekend [written on Jun 27] we took a hike at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, right in the middle ofthe Minneapolis/St. Paul cityscape. A wonderful spot.  He got photos of an Indigo Bunting and Turkeys
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea):
Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo)
Around our house, he’s gotten many more.  Friendly Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) (even climbing on our screens).  We’ve been feeding them oranges and when the orange is “done” (exhausted), they
screech at us from the table where we put the oranges!  C’mon guys, more food!


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I too think they’re Citronella ants – squish a few and take a whiff.

    I poured boiling water on a colony once – whew!

    • Posted August 8, 2017 at 3:17 am | Permalink

      That is unbelievably cruel…

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted August 8, 2017 at 5:19 am | Permalink

        I agree.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    There is something about oranges and Orioles. Some very nice photos.

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Every Spring ants like this come up in my back garden. I love watching them. There are millions of them.

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    One place I lived the ants always seemed to swarm on the first day of the season I decided to sunbathe.

    Jamie continues to impress! And I love the colours of those birds. Quite beautiful.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Very enjoyable! Good observations and pictures on the ants, Roger.
    Jamies abilities as a birder continue to impress. That 2nd oriole picture in particular is stunning.

  6. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    While walking my dog Eddy (a Jack Russel) I spotted a four inch black round disk in the middle of the sidewalk. The disk was literally teaming with ants, so many I couldn’t see a speck of the surface.
    I thought ‘I wish I had my camera’, but before I could even finish that thought Eddy gobbled it along with all the ants before I could even think to stop him.
    I think it was a slice a luncheon meat.

    Eddy seemed very pleased with himself.

  7. Michael Fisher
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Nice work Jamie. Do you have video of the orioles demanding “more!”?

  8. Mark R.
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Interesting about the swarms being stimulated by rain. Last year here in western WA, we had a lot of rain and at least a half dozen ant colonies. I could barely keep them under control with ant-bait. This year, we’re a day away from breaking a 1950’s record for consecutive rainless days: 52 iirc. And another observation: no ants this year! I don’t know if that’s the correlation, but I’m happy being ant-free this summer.

    Wild turkeys are neat birds…I like this tidbit Benjamin Franklin wrote to his daughter. He was bemoaning the fact that the new national symbol was the Bald Eagle, and the picture originally rendered looked like a turkey.

    I am on this account not displeased that the figure is not known as an Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the truth, the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America… He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.

    Growing up, I was told Franklin publicly stated that he wanted the national symbol to be a turkey, but that is apocryphal. This letter is the only known reference to Franklin’s opinion on the matter.

    This got a little long, sorry; but I need to add that the Orioles are stunning.

  9. busterggi
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t seen an Indigo Bunting since the ’70’s. Saw my first B. Oriole this spring after more than 20 years w/o seeing any.

  10. rickflick
    Posted August 7, 2017 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    The ant are swarming here in New York as well. It’s always a curious site. The carpenter ants here have invaded parts of my back yard shed, so I have to temper my appreciation.

    I have not seen orioles eating oranges before. I should give that a try.
    I love indigo buntings.

  11. Posted August 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m disappointed that Ant didn’t comment on this. At least an emoji.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 7, 2017 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Ant is likely swarming right now. Give him a chance to drop his wings.

    • Posted August 9, 2017 at 1:25 am | Permalink


  12. Kiwi Dave
    Posted August 8, 2017 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous birds!

  13. Posted August 18, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t need to see more ants (have a ant problem at the mo)
    found it interesting nevertheless,
    but the bird shots made up for it…

%d bloggers like this: