Closed for the Season

First snowfall of the season arrived yesterday. Not a lot. Just enough to let us know that winter has checked its bags and is on its way south.

A walk along the fence line revealed that many local inhabitants have already hunkered down.

On sunny days just a week or so ago, wood ants in this ant hill still foraged outside for food. Now all is quiet, muffled beneath the white.

Wood ants   Formica spp.


The Tree

Once upon a time there was a tree.

For nearly 100 years it stood. Tall. Resilient. Firm against the wind.

But ants arrived. Tunnelled chambers deep into the heartwood.

Woodpeckers appeared. Drilled holes in search of ants.

Wind returned. This time a century of life fell.

Now, in a long-forgotten woodpecker hole, a green heart beats. Again.

White spruce   Picea glauca

The Art of Ants

Carpenter ants build colonies in rotten, dying and dead trees.

They create artful designs inside spruce and pine and poplar where some tunnel walls are paper-thin.

Unlike termites which eat wood, carpenter ants cut it up with their strong jaws and dump it outside. Piles of sawdust at the bottom of a tree are their calling card.

Large ants with attitude and a nasty bite. They don’t let go. They’re the pit bulls of the insect world. Ask me. I know. Stick pins in your skin for the same effect.

Carpenter ant   Camponotus sp.