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Formica - female

Formica - Female
Kennebunk Plains, Kennebunk, York County, Maine, USA
April 15, 2013
Some workers were carrying other workers, which were alive. Why were they doing this?

Images of this individual: tag all
Formica - female Formica - female Formica - female

Maybe F. pergandei, but lacking the ability to see diagnostic characteristics of the head and clypeus, I hesitate. I also recommend that you use a grayer background to show erect pilosity better. Note for the future that a clear view of the antennal bases and the margin of the clypeus is often useful for ant species identification.

As Danielle wrote, these were in the course of colony relocation. But a couple of things -- Formica species do not have any brood in the nest over the winter, so you could not have expected to see them carrying any at this time of year. Also, it is true that younger adults are often the ones carried, but any naive (i.e., doesn't know the location of the new nest site) ant of any age may be carried by one who knows.

Perhaps you witnessed a nest move?
Hi there!
I'm not sure what species of ant this is, but I can offer some explanation for their behavior. Ants do not stay in the same nest for the entire life of the colony. They can move to a new nest as often as once a month, but it normally depends upon the species. Ants that have just emerged as adults (callows) will sometimes continue to act like pupae and be carried around by their older sisters for some time. You may have simply witnessed a group of these newly hatched workers being carried to the new nest by their siblings.
Did you happen to notice if any ants were also carrying white oval-shaped objects? This would indicate that they were moving brood which are rarely brought out of the nest unless the colony is indeed moving to a new site. I hope this answers your question. Your pictures are very nice!

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