the last 12 years, Bill Clark has collected more than 250,000 ant
specimens on the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
Clark is an affiliate of the Environmental Science and
Research Foundation and is assistant director of the Orma J. Smith
Museum of Natural History at Albertson College of Idaho.
the INL, there are 47 species and literally billions of
individual ants. “If
you could place all the ants of the INL together and weigh them,
they’d outweigh all the vertebrate animals put together,” says
humans, ants are social creatures, living together in a
cooperative manner. An
ant colony consists mainly of workers and one to several queens.
Workers come in a variety of sizes for doing different
jobs. During the
reproductive season, an ant colony will produce winged males and
females which usually swarm around a landmark, such as a tree or
hill, to mate.
are important components of an ecosystem for several reasons. Their soil-moving skills make them important in nutrient
cycling. They are a
food source for many animals, including woodpeckers, bears, and,
as any flyfisher knows, fish.
Some subfamilies of ants can sting and thus may have some
can be grouped by their method of getting food.
The feeding guilds represented in Idaho include seed
harvesters, liquid feeders, predators, slave-making ants, and
omnivores, the ants that eat most anything.