Ants are social insects and live in colonies consisting of one or more queens, female workers and males. In most species the non-sexually mature female ants are wingless; only the males and the queen(s) possess wings. Periodically, often 3-5 days after a heavy rain, the winged ants emerge from the colony in large swarms in order to mate and create more colonies. Swarming behavior is usually synchronized with other nearby colonies, so large numbers (hundreds or thousands) of winged ants suddenly appear. After mating, the males die and the queens shed their wings and use the remaining wing muscles as a source of nutrients during the early stages of colony development. The shedding of wings is not a passive activity. The pictured ant is in the process of removing her fourth and final wing. She held each wing down with one leg while pulling it out with another. She then crawled off, leaving a pile of wings behind.
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One reader wrote, “This is a unique book as far as I know. I have several naturalists’ books covering Vermont and the Northeast, and have seen nothing of this breadth, covered to this depth. So much interesting information about birds, amphibians, mammals, insects, plants. This would be useful to those in the mid-Atlantic, New York, and even wider geographic regions. The author gives a month-by-month look at what’s going on in the natural world, and so much of the information would simply be moved forward or back a month in other regions, but would still be relevant because of the wide overlap of species. Very readable. Couldn’t put it down. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about the natural world, but there was much that was new to me in this book. I would have loved to have this to use as a text when I was teaching. Suitable for a wide range of ages.”
In a recent email to me a parent wrote, “Naturally Curious is our five year old’s unqualified f-a-v-o-r-I-t-e book. He spends hours regularly returning to it to study it’s vivid pictures and have us read to him about all the different creatures. It is a ‘must have’ for any family with children living in New England…or for anyone that simply shares a love of the outdoors.”
I am a firm believer in fostering a love of nature in young children – the younger the better — but I admit that when I wrote Naturally Curious, I was writing it with adults in mind. It delights me no end to know that children don’t even need a grown-up middleman to enjoy it!
November 23, 2012 | Categories: A Closer Look at New England, Adaptations, Amphibians, Animal Adaptations, Animal Architecture, Animal Communication, Animal Diets, Animal Eyes, Animal Signs, Animal Tracks, Anti-predatory Device, Ants, April, Arachnids, Arthropods, August, Bark, Bats, Beavers, Beetles, Bird Diets, Bird Nests, Bird Songs, Birds, Birds of Prey, Black Bears, Bogs, Bugs, Bumblebees, Butterflies, camouflage, Carnivores, Carnivorous Plants, Caterpillars, Cervids, Chrysalises, Cocoons, Conifers, Courtship, Crickets, Crustaceans, Damselflies, December, Deciduous Trees, Decomposition, Deer, Defense Mechanisms, Diets, Diptera, Dragonflies, Ducks, Earwigs, Egg laying, Ephemerals, Evergreen Plants, Falcons, Feathers, February, Fishers, Fledging, Fledglings, Flies, Flowering Plants, Flying Squirrels, Food Chain, Foxes, Frogs, Fruits, Fungus, Galls, Gastropods, Gills, Grasshoppers, Gray Foxes, Herbivores, Herons, Hibernation, Honeybees, Hornets, Hymenoptera, Insect Eggs, Insect Signs, Insects, Insects Active in Winter, Invertebrates, January, July, June, Lady's Slippers, Larvae, Leaves, Lepidoptera, Lichens, Mammals, March, Metamorphosis, Micorrhiza, Migration, Millipedes, Mimicry, Molts, Moose, Moths, Mushrooms, Muskrats, Mutualism, Nests, Nocturnal Animals, Non-flowering plants, North American River Otter, November, October, Odonata, Omnivores, Orchids, Owls, Parasites, Parasitic Plants, Passerines, Plants, Plumage, Poisonous Plants, Pollination, Porcupines, Predator-Prey, Pupae, Raptors, Red Foxes, Red Squirrel, Reptiles, Rodents, Scat, Scent Marking, Seed Dispersal, Seeds, Senses, September, Sexual Dimorphism, Shorebirds, Shrubs, Slugs, Snails, Snakes, Snowfleas, Social Insects, Spiders, Spores, Spring Wildflowers, Squirrels, Striped Skunks, Toads, Tracks, Tree Buds, Tree Flowers, Tree Identification, Trees, Trees and Shrubs, turtles, Vernal Pools, Vertebrates, Vines, Wading Birds, Warblers, Wasps, Waterfowl, Weasel Family, White-tailed Deer, Winter Adaptations, Woodpeckers, Woody Plants, Yellowjackets, Young Animals | Tags: Christmas Gifts, Naturally Curious, Naturally Curious by Mary Holland | 2 Comments
The lingering warm weather and the few remaining flowers (such as the mustard in the photograph) have allowed worker wasps to extend their lives this fall longer than many years, for once several hard frosts hit, they will die. Unlike honeybees, the queen of social wasp colonies lives only about a year, but that is longer than the workers. In the late summer the (old) queen stops laying eggs and the colony soon begins to decline. In the fall, mated female offspring of the queen seek overwintering sites such as rotting logs. In these protected spots they tuck their wings and antennae under their bodies, and hunker down for the winter. The remainder of the colony does not survive the winter. If predators such as spiders don’t kill the new queens, and if they don’t emerge early due to a warm winter and starve due to lack of food, the young queens begin building nests and laying eggs in the spring.