Arizona ant disappearance (Bracken, Phoenix, Arizona, USA)

Hi, great blog. I've got a question for you if you might have the time...

Last week during the solar eclipse my family and I drove out past west Phoenix, AZ to get a clear view of the horizon - we ended up out in the dessert. I noticed a huge ant colony of large black ants about 1/4 inch in size, they were busy walking in lines in and out of their hole. I decided to collect about ten for an unused gel ant farm I have. I had the ants for a week and all but two of them just sat around in a group cleaning themselves, while two of the ants started digging tunnels. I figured I inadvertently collected mostly foraging worker ants. Now, one week later, this weekend I decided I would go back and try to capture ants that were bringing debris out of the hole, and avoid ants bringing thing into the hole, to try to get more digger ants. BUT! The ant hole was void of all activity, no ants. ... I trekked into the raw untamed dessert for about an hour and discovered many ant holes - not one ant the entire time! Figuring I was unlucky, I drove and explored a dirt road that took me deep into the dessert for about four miles, looking out for large ant holes along the way, and again, many holes but not one single ant! Is it an ant conspiracy? But seriously, I was scanning the ground for activity and not one ant the whole time?! Whats going on? This all took place in the afternoon to late day and the temperature reported 84 degrees on my iphone.

Thank you!


Glad to hear you are keeping ants! Ant farms can be a great way to observe and appreciate ants.

As for your observations about the missing ants it is possible that the original colony may have moved locations. Some ant species move their entire nests from time to time. Also, many ant species have ideal times of the day and temperatures to be active and it could be that you were there when the ants were deep in their nests for the evening.

Hopefully the ants will be back out and active the next time you venture out to the desert.

Best of luck,
Corrie Moreau & the AskAnt Team

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