Thursday, April 7, 2011


I spotted a tiny gathering on a leaf in our front yard recently which tweaked my interest, and I couldn't resist snapping a photo. It consisted of a Green Tree Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina), or part thereof, and a group of tiny ants (probably Monomorium sp.). Green Tree Ants are one of the most dominant scavengers in this region. Colonies can be huge, occupying and completely dominating multiple large trees and the surrounding forest. They can be seen carting away all sorts of animals, both complete and dismembered. I once witnessed them carrying a small python up a tree in the Northern Territory.

In this scene however, the tables are turned. Tiny ants carry away the relatively huge head of Green Tree Ant worker. In reference to food chains, you often hear the saying 'there's always someone bigger'. Ecosystems though are complex and not linear like a chain, but interwoven like a web. In this case it would be more apt to say there's always someone smaller...

Tiny ants, barely 2mm long cart away a nice morsel for their colony; a Green Tree Ant head.

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