Beach Ants


Ever wonder if there are ants at the beach? Do ants take tropical beach vacation getaways
like humans do? The answer will surprise you. This week, I had the opportunity to spend
my Christmas on some secluded but tiny tropical islands, and my main goal was to find out
what the ants on secluded beach islands were like, how they lived, or heck, find out if
there even were ants on secluded beach islands at all! AC Family, let’s make a quick escape from
the on-going tales of our antiverse in my ant room in Manila, Philippines and travel
thousands of miles westward to a gorgeous tropical country called Maldives, tucked far
away out into the Indian Ocean, and find out what beach ant colonies are like, in this
episode of the AntsCanada ant channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to my channel, and hit the
bell icon. Welcome to the AC Family. Tired of nature channels not showing nature
shows. Just watch this channel. Enjoy! The Republic of Maldives is a South Asian
country composed of over 1,000 coral islands out in the Indian Ocean, situated in the Arabian
Sea near the country of Sri Lanka. Its crystal clear waters, amazing wild life,
and luxurious beach resorts have made it a growing tourist spot for beach enthusiasts
around the world. I knew nothing about the place before coming
here, other than the fact that a few celebrities I follow online have vacationed here and posted
some pretty neat photos of the place. But when I arrived I was shocked to see not
only how beautiful it was, but also how rich the Maldivian wildlife was, both in the sea
and on land. Allegedly friendly reef sharks and some really
interesting marine fish swam all around us just outside our rooms, we interacted with
wild stingrays, which I had no idea was a safe thing to do, massive fruit bats flew
from tree to tree, huge solitary bees buzzed around, shore birds and herons hung out at
our pools, and super cute agamid lizards scurried about waiting for insects to pick off, and
oh, the plant life – man, that tropical, beach plant life though! But with such a lush and thriving ecosystem
on these secluded islands, I was sure there had to be ants here somewhere! So I asked the locals about where I might
be able to find ants and what type of ants existed in Maldives. Of course, if you’re not an ant nerd like
me, most ants might look the same, so the general consensus was that there were pretty
much only three types of ants in Maldives. They were described as follows: The first
type were described as being big and black, and that to me screamed Camponotus, i.e. carpenter
ants. Ooohh Maldivian carpenter ants! Super exciting. Let’s hope we see some today! The second were described as some small red
ones. That sounded like a fire ant species, perhaps
like our Fire Nation? We’ll find out! And finally some harmless black ones that
come in swarms, and of course, that to me sounded like black crazy ants! To think, our Dark Knights have a Maldivian
counterpart? So cool! So according to local sources, there were
these three ants and that was it. Now although Maldives was pretty geographically
secluded and each island was super small, I still found it hard to accept that there
were only three species of ants on these Maldivian islands, so it was time to find out! I booked some tours to go Maldives island
hopping and broke away from my tour group to shoot some ants! By the way, AC Family, if you’re excited about
today’s episode, please hit that ‘LIKE’ button and let me know. Alright so wandering off the tourist path
a little bit, I instantly came across this open sandy area with sparse vegetation, and
it was full of little pits. Ant holes! Check it out AC Family, it looks like we’ve
found our quote-unquote small, red ants! But looking closer at them, you could tell
right away that these red ants were NOT fire ants. These ants looked different from our Fire
Nation, but they were just as energetic! I loved watching them run about constructing
their holes and small ant hills. Have a look! Now one thing you might notice about the ant
hills of these ants is that they aren’t really huge nor too conspicuous. I feel when you live on a beach where you
don’t have a whole lot of plant coverage, you don’t want to make your fortress too obvious
and announce to predators that “Hey, this is where we live.” Now I couldn’t even pin a genus on these girls
to identify them, until I spotted from the corner of my eye this! A Supermajor! The supermajors were super shy and weren’t
plentiful. Now these ants weren’t our Titans, Asian Marauder
ants, but were probably a smaller and similar species belonging to the genus Pheidole. Red ant mystery solved! Let’s move on! My friend who was ant-hunting with me, called
me over saying “Hey, I found a huge black ant!” Yes, perhaps it was our native Camponotus! When I finally saw it, I was shocked and filmed
it with my eyes and mouth wide open the whole time. AC Family, check it out and see if you can
tell why! Do you see something funny about this big
black ant? Well, AC Family, this actually is not an ant. Believe it or not, this here is a spider! A jumping spider, to be exact, probably belonging
to the genus Myrmarachne. This spider was an ant mimic! Don’t believe me? That right there is its web den! Not only is its body shaped like that of an
ant, but it also moves its front legs in the same way an ant moves its antennae! Isn’t that just amazing, AC Family? Now you might be asking, why would a spider
want to mimic an ant? What evolutionary purpose? Well, there could be several reasons. First, many animals actually dislike or fear
ants, having learned to stay away from them due to their bites or their foul taste. A predator may choose to eat this jumping
spider before this apparent ant. Second, this spider may actually look like
her favourite prey, and so looking like an ant may help her get close enough to pounce. Whatever it is, these ant-mimicking spiders
of which there are hundreds of described species are super cool! Don’t you think? Ok, so this wasn’t our big, black carpenter
ant! Let’s move on! Plus, we still needed to find some wild Dark
Knights, Maldives chapter! Speaking of which, AC Family want to hear
something cool? Alright, so it made total sense that the Dark
Knights, commonly known as black crazy ants would be found here in Maldives. If you were ever wondering if ants take tropical
beach vacation getaways the answer is yes, they do, only they end up staying at these
tropical destinations, and black crazy ants happen to be the ultimate world vacationers. You see at one point these Maldivian islands
had their native set of ants species like the Pheidole ants, but as soon as the islands
began to develop and later turn into a tourist destination, it opened its borders to immigrant
ants. With human tourists, come the need for the
importation of supplies, including food items, building materials, decorative plants and
trees, and pretty much everything and anything that people can’t readily acquire on these
tiny islands. During a chat with the general manager of
the resort I was staying at, I was surprised to know that twice a week, huge barges of
supplies are shipped into the island to stock the resort with everything they need. And of course, with these supplies, can come
tiny ant vacationers traveling for free. All it takes is one pregnant queen ant, or
even whole colonies inhabiting any of the goods coming in, for a colony of immigrant
ants to establish themselves on a small island. They can even be hiding in something as simple
as a garbage can on a boat. And low and behold, near a school in one of
the local communities, I saw some naturalized Maldivian citizens of Dark Knights. As was described to me by the locals they
moved in huge swarms with such vigor and power! Having whole armies of immigrant ants like
these black crazy ants move in to a new place can be problematic for the local ecosystem
especially for a small island, because they can displace, kill, or out-compete native
ants, which already have stable relationships with the plants and animals around them. Imagine if these black crazy ants wipe out
a native species of ant that a certain species of plant depends on to disperse its seeds
or pollinate to bear fruit? Or what if these black crazy ants have a taste
for creatures that native ants typically leave alone? Black Crazy Ants, though we love our Dark
Knights, actually pose dangers to ecosystems especially on small islands around the world,
because of the fact that they are such avid world travelers. And so are these ants, ghost ants! Tapinoma melanocephalum. These tiny bundles of energy are called ghost
ants because of their semi-transparent gasters which make them look like floating heads. Ghost ants are also notorious world travelers
having established themselves in subtropical and tropical regions around the world. I spotted them forming a massive trail running
up and down this tree and towards the beach! And here is exactly what I was talking about! AC Family, look! It looks like these ghost ants have stolen
the bounty of some larger Maldivian native ant, and have formic acid sprayed it to immobilization. I watched as it kicked and struggled in pain,
as the ghost ants feasted on what was supposed to be a meal for the native ant’s colony. Scenes like this are heart-breaking, but it’s
part of the natural world where the survival of the fittest rule reigns supreme. So what are people doing now to try to stop
ant tourism? Surely, for islands like Maldives, human tourism
is an important industry, bringing the nation a steady amount of income, but how do we protect
the native ecosystems from falling apart due to invasive, tourist ants to these small islands
like those of Maldives. So, to deal with that, prior to landing in
Maldives, I was surprised to see that the Maldivian government required all planes coming
in to be sprayed with a pesticide. If you find it weird that they would do that,
check out this huge spider that flew with me sandwiched between the two panes of glass
making up my plane window. The flight staff told me, they had watched
that spider grow, which means, beyond the mystery of how it got in there in the first
place, it was actually feeding on a regular supply of insects! Fact is, insects can be anywhere and travel
thousands of miles with people more often than one would think. Also, thankfully, most countries are strict
with what fauna enter and leave its borders. Our GAN Project, which has supplied thousands
of ant keepers with ants for their ant farms also aims at reducing the black market trade
of ant colonies as pets to private owners, to help stop the migration of foreign ants
to new places, by connecting local ant keepers. But no other sight spoke the message of the
need for preservation of native ants and ecosystems as clearly and beautifully as this next scene
you are about to see, AC Family. At the base of one of the trees, near the
ocean, I spotted something totally magical! It was a huge, black ant! We found our native Camponotus ant. Wow! Look at how gorgeous it was! But then I noticed something even cooler! It was attending to some small tiny pink creatures,
and that’s when I realized, AC Family, that OMG, this carpenter ant was milking a mealy
bug. What we are witnessing here was a carpenter
ant milking an ant cow! You see the mealy bugs feed from the juices
within this tree root and if you look carefully, you will see the ant gently stroking the mealy
bug with its antennae. This stroking eventually causes the mealy
big to release a sweet secretion called honeydew, a bi-product, which the ant drinks up cum
gusto! I have never been able to film this beautiful
act of symbiosis this close. You can almost see the small appendage of
the mealy bug running through the ants’ mouth parts. Is that like an ant cow teat? I watched for a long time as the carpenter
ant milked the mealy bug then left to visit other mealy bug sites that it knew, including
this one which was a mealy bug with baby mealy bug calves around her! Isn’t this all just unbelievable. An ant farmer with her ant cows, AC Family. In order to preserve these beautiful and important
moments of nature, as has been the common message these days, we humans do need to be
mindful of our activities as key players in the natural world. The final ants I saw as I left Maldives a
few days ago, were some native black ants of which I didn’t know the species, relocating
a dead Maldivian native carpenter ant to an area not blocking one of their foraging trails. They were cleaning up! This made me think, hey if tiny ants can work
together at cleaning up a mess that isn’t theirs, why do we people have such problems
working together to clean up our own? It’s ant love forever. Yes! AC Family, thanks for watching another week
of ant discovery! Hope you guys are enjoying your holidays! What types of ants have you guys seen while
on vacation? Let me know in the comments! AC Inner Colony, I have left a hidden cookie
for you here, if you would just like to watch a super cool video of ants and other creatures
I shot in the wilderness and oceans of Maldives! And before we proceed to the AC Question of
the Week, in case you haven’t heard yet, our annual Christmas Sale at AntsCanada.com is
still in full effect but there are only two days left! This year we have a great sale on our brand
new Hybrid Nest 2.0 and our All You Need Formica Hybrid Nest Gear Pack! So if you’ve always wanted to get into ant
keeping, I have left links in the description box to these sale items so you can pick one
up for yourself or someone you love. We ship worldwide, but this sale ends this
weekend, so do place your order in, and we also have gift cards in case you would like
to get your special loved one an ant setup but are not sure what they would like. I would love for you guys to keep ants with
me and discover these amazing creatures that live in your neighbourood! Alright, and now it’s time for the AC Question
of the week! Last week we asked: Which of our ant colonies
was the first to receive their Christmas gift? Now this was a trick question because a lot
of you answered the Fire Nation which indeed was the first recipient of their Christmas
gift in the video, but congratulations to MobileChampion 21 who correctly answered: The Golden Empire It was mentioned in the video that the Gold
Play Button was considered the Golden Empire’s early Christmas gift, hence they technically
were the first. Congratulations MobileChampion 21, you just
won a free ebook handbook from our shop! In this week’s AC Question of the Week, we
ask: Name any of the two species of
ants in this video that are not native to Maldives Islands. Leave your answer in the comments section
and you could also win a free ebook handbook from our shop! Hope you can subscribe to the channel as we
upload every Saturday at 8AM EST. Please remember to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE
if you enjoyed this video to help us keep making more. It’s ant love forever!

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