Violent Night

Posted: April 2, 2010 in macro photography
Tags: , ,

There are no silent nights on the forest floor.

Photo: A very odd looking unmarked Pompelon marginata. 

As day-loving butterflies disappear into the foliage of the misty breathing tree tops, other forest denizens busy about on the forest floor in single-minded murderous ambitions.

Photo: A woodlouse doing its mightiest best to squeeze into a narrow hiding place.  Woodlice feed on dead matter but have many predators.  Best for this crustacean to lie low.

Clash Of The Ant Titans

These gigantic forest ants, Camponotus gigas, belong to a group of one of the largest ant species in South East Asia, ranging from Sumatra to Thailand.  They can inhabit peat swamps of mangroves to mountain forests below 1500m above sea level.

Camponotus gigas are aggressive large ants and have been observed to fight and carry off ants from other species encountered along their trail to their nests as food.  Camponotus gigas ants have been observed to have little tolerance for few species of ants and engage in fighting rituals with their own species (from other nest sites) or other camponotus species.

We encountered a few Camponotus gigas carrying what looked like a dead gigas (but with paler coloured abdomen – more visible when looked at with the human eye) in its huge mandibles and running along the trail with it.

When visibly disturbed by our presence (flickering high powered torches and multiple camera flashes), the transporting ant stopped and to our surprise, the "dead" ant unfolded itself.

Photo: The two ants remained in mandible deadlock after the ant unfolded itself completely.

After we stopped flashing and stood by silently to observe the ants, the ant appeared to re-fold itself back under the "transporter" ant, all the while in the deadlock with the "transporter".

The "transporter" began moving again and other ants came and inspected the odd pair while they weaved through the trail.

After further disturbances from our torches and flashes, the folded ant unfolded itself again and this time the deadlock was broken and the transporting ant released its mandibles and scurried away, leaving the ant it was carrying by itself on the trail.

The "dead" ant didn't move much after its release, staying motionless on the trail and only moved when it spread its mandibles and waved its feelers about agitatedly whenever another gigas on the trail tried to approach it.

The released ant package appeared to have paler abdomen and feelers.

References: http://www.antbase.net/sprache-englisch/ants-southeast-asia/ecology/camponotusgigas.html

SLUG! It Out

After the excitement with the gigas ants, I promptly stepped on a terrestrial flatworm with a distinct "hammerhead".

While information about this peculiar worm on the internet is very scarce, I did manage to find a query already sent in to "What's That Bug?" which guessed the worm to be a Bipalium rauchi.

The worm is not uncommon.  And several photographers have come across it here and here.  

We had the good fortune of watching a snail get violently ingested by the worm on the forest floor.  This the worm did, with one surprisingly quick swooping motion, spreading its "hammerhead" mantle suddenly and quickly over the snail (who was trying to out- .. ahem… "run" the worm).

Photo above: The dreaded mantle

The time it took to digest the little hump of snail was also surprisingly fast.  See the sequence from capture to quiet ingestion below. 

The face of a contented flatworm.

We hope you have been entertained. 🙂

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Comments
  1. cat says:

    love the worm – looks very uncomfortable when the snail is stuck right up there in his hammerhead

  2. Trailblazer says:

    Discovery Channel will hire you:) Creepy, but beautiful . . .

  3. haha.. am sure the worm was just thinking: "Mmmm…Mmmmm…escargo…" if it had any taste buds. 😛 Have no idea how it stretches that head and mouth wide enough to swallow the snail…

  4. Thanks Trailblazer 🙂 It sure made my skin crawl a little but I was too fascinated to go away…

  5. Lauri says:

    My jaw is hanging open in amazement! So much drama going on all around us. I love it! Thanks!

  6. Kira says:

    Creepy lil' shiny worm… Hate to be small and make it mad.. =)

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