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Monday, August 17, 2009

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Ant drones emerge from an anthill.

Through a process nobody (as far as I know) understands, all of the ant colonies of a given species in a given vicinity launch their fertile females and male drones around the same time, allowing new colonies to be established with a genetic reshuffle amongst colonies. Here are drones emerging from an anthill in the Jura mountains. The drones come out into the open and spend some time waiting for their wings to dry and harden, and then take flight, looking for females with whom to mate. Whenever the flying ants take to the air, dragonflies, like this fellow, are usually around to devour them in large numbers. Only a tiny fraction of the drones ever mate with a female, and of females who do mate, a minuscule percentage successfully found new colonies. It's tough being an ant, especially if you're a guy.

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