An intriguing discovery


Photo: Ricardo Liberato

Hiking on a long wooded trail the other day, we came upon a site that immediately brought to mind the Egyptian pyramids. But we weren’t in Egypt. We were in Rhode Island.

IMG_0876These mounds are created by Formica exsectoides, commonly known as Allegheny Mound Ants. I’ve seen these mounds before, but they were smaller and not as pointy. And there were just a couple. Along this sandy road, there were scores of them. When you looked closer, you could see the ants swarming on the mounds. You can’t get too close, though, because they will attack you if they feel threatened.

These ants live from Maritime Canada all the way down to Georgia. The formic acid they secrete kills most nearby vegetation, and the mounds, which in this case were up to three feet tall, capture solar energy to create a nice warm environment for the colony inside.

Here’s a shot of a single mound.


You never know what you’ll find in the woods, I tell ya.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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8 Responses to An intriguing discovery

  1. CJ Wright says:

    Holy Smoke! And I thought my ants were out of control!


  2. gardenpest says:

    speechless! is that a rock in the ant entrance hole?


  3. Lee May says:

    All the day down here to Georgia. Great. Maybe they can eat the kudzu.


  4. Wendy says:

    wow! Holy moly those mounds are large! I’m actually pretty gun shy about any kind of any. I was enjoying the fall weather by dining on the outdoor patio of a new great restaurant and was attacked by fire ants (or so my doctor thinks). They were horrendous itchy. I had a total of about 40 bites on my 2 feet. One foot got infected and both were just angrily sore for at least a week. Itchy for about 2 weeks. This fourth week, all the little bites have turned to fading scars. eek.


    • dirtynailz says:

      I hear you Wendy. Way to spoil a meal!
      I had an encounter with fire ants in Brazil, and I remember it well. There’s a reason “fire” is in the name.


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