Pavement Ant Battle

2015 December 5

Sam spotted this big pile of tiny ants at a crack in our sidewalk on July 27, 2015.

It appeared to be a free-for-all, with everybody wrestling with everybody else. Although, since ants tell each other apart by scent, I expect that they all knew pretty much who they were fighting with.

If we pick out some individuals, they look like Pavement Ants, Tetramorium species-e[1].

We’ve had a lot of pavement ants around the yard for years, but this was the first time I’d seen one of the pitched battles in time to get my camera. While most of the fighting was going on right around the nest entrance, there was also a lot of skirmishing between the defenders and the attackers’ incoming reinforcements.

Pavement ants are fairly notorious for these sorts of battles. They are intensely territorial, and will regularly duke it out for a while when one nest encounters another. In this case, it looked like they just fought for a few hours and then disengaged after their boundaries were established, although if a strong nest encounters a much weaker one they will probably destroy it.

[1] It has been some years now, I wonder why they haven’t been given an actual species name yet? They’ve been “species-e” since at least 2010.

One Response
  1. December 10, 2015

    We’ve been conquered by Argentinian ants. They don’t fight with each other no matter which nest the ants call home. Because of this, they outcompeted all of the local, native ants.

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