Dandelion Salad

Winter hung around for a long time but spring finally found its way to our corner of the forest.

This past week yellow appeared on the menu for these red and black wood ants.

There are about 21 species of wood ants in Alberta. As the name suggests they live in or near the edge of wooded areas, building large hills from forest litter and soil.

Although dandelions caught the attention of these ants, poplar buds are even more popular. They’re like the main course to the dandelion appetizer.

This leaf bud hasn’t even opened yet, but the ants have already moved their “herd” of aphids into position. The aphids feed on the sap, then excrete a sweet sticky “syrup” that the ants eat.

This thistle gives an idea of how big well-tended aphid herds can get.

Wood ant Formica spp.

3 thoughts on “Dandelion Salad

  1. Welcome back, Sally ! If you need poplar buds, aka those blankety-blank sticky buds, glued to my car, I have hordes of them ! Now I am uneagerly awaiting the arrival of the cotton strings. A female poplar is one busy tree !
    Great to hear from you and know that you and your camera are finding wonders in the forest.

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


    1. Hi Judi … you are ahead of us. Buds not quite unfolding yet. It’s been a long winter. Finally began putting the bedding plants out the other day. Yay!


  2. When I saw the genus name Formica, I wondered if formic acid was related. Well, yes! I found this great video explaining that, and showing some German ants using it in their defense. We just never know what we’ll see when the world begins waking up.


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