I have been wanting to look at an insect under my Foldscope for a while now, and I was finally able to today from a very small ant brought in off of some flowering plants. I wanted to keep the ant alive, particularly so that I would be able to investigate its movement patterns. It was very difficult to do, but I managed to contain the ant in a closed sample tube while preparing a slide with tape to make a well of sorts with which I could cage the ant. I then guided the ant into the tape cage and trapped it with the cover glass. It ended up being enough room so that the ant was still alive and could waggle around but not move freely, which was perfect. There were moments when the ant was completely still, but for the most part it moved around. Although this made it hard to capture a clear image, it was worth it for the behavior patterns I could observe.
The most interesting thing was the ant’s pincer behavior. They would open and close regularly, and while the dead ant images on other posts seem to tend towards open pincers, this ant, while alive, tended towards closed pincers. This suggests that a muscle may release upon death that opens up the pincers. Additionally, note in the two photos of the ant head that in the second, there is a yellow-green slime between the head and the pincers. This sort of liquid was captured in a live photo coming in and out. I would be curious to find out what exactly it was; possibly it was a digestive or defensive fluid.
Be sure to download and look at these two short clips of the ant. It is interesting to see how the abdomen (the largest, rear-most part of the ant) can stay so stable while the thorax and legs move around wildly. Also, it is interesting to see the ant’s head, pincers, and legs in motion.
This ant can now be found living outside in the garden at the entrance to the Department of Chemistry Building! Special recognition to the ant for living through the stressful environment and making my observations successful.