• Josiah Kilburn

Ants and Garden of the Gods Pt 1

Today I Visited Garden of gods and wanted to share my opinion of it as an ant hunting spot. It will be a two-parter because I have yet to visit it when it's dark. For these reviews I will have 4 rating categories; Diversity, Accessibility, Collection Difficulty, and Condition. They will be explained below

A Myrmecocystus cf. mendax worker, standing at the entrance of the nest.

Diversity

Diversity is attained by the number of species found and also factors in search time. If I visit a trail 40 times and it takes me 40 times to find 1 colony it would have a lower rating than a trail I visited once and found 14 species. I'll put a list of the species (approximated) I found and compile the rating (out of 10) at the end.

There are three main habitats at the Garden of the Gods, brush-desert, Piñon-juniper forest, and Pine grove.

Here's the myrmecofauna I found at Garden of the Gods


Dolichoderinae

Dorymyrmex Dorymyrmex insanus Dorymyrmex sp. (parasitic) Tapinoma: Tapinoma sessile

Myrmicinae

Solenopsis solenopsis sp.

Tetramorium

Tetramorium immigrans

Temnothorax: Temnothorax cf. neomexicanus

Pheidole: Pheidole sp.

Myrmica: Myrmica sp.

Formicinae

Camponotus: Campontus cf. nearticus


Lasius: Lasius latipes

Lasius claviger Lasius coloradensis Lasius cf. neoniger

Formica: Formica sp.

Formica neogagates Formica pallidefulva

Myrmecocystus:

Myrmecocystus melliger

Ponerinae


Ponera: Ponera pennsylvanica

Diversity Score: (6/10) This park has a decent amount of diversity, but only if you know where to look. See the categories below.

Accessibility

Accessibility is dependant on how far species are from the main road. If I only found species 3 miles from the nearest road or parking area, the score would be lower than if I found them right when I got out of the car. I'll give an overview and compile the rating (out of 10) at the end.


Garden of the Gods is a very accessible park, with many trails and roads throughout it. The largest concentration of species was found about 10-30 minutes away from the parking spaces. But the locations were easy enough to find Accessibility Score: (8/10)


Collection Difficulty

Collection difficulty is how hard it is to collect species in a given area, this category also includes permits and bureaucracy. If I need a permit to collect, the score goes down, If ants are 20 meters off the trail in either direction the score goes down. If most rocks get too hot during the day, the score goes down I'll give an overview and compile the rating (out of 15) at the end.

Ants at the Garden of the Gods were found pretty far from the trail, generally up hills or behind fences, places which there won't be much chance to encounter them. Most ants are found off the trail so it's not really practical to search for many species there. The areas where there are rocks to flip and search for ants generally are too moist to house colonies of ants, for this reason it's impractical to flip rocks in many washed out areas of the park. There were, however, various other opportunities to photograph other arthropods, including spiders.

Collection Difficulty Score: (9/15)

Condition

The difficulty and maintenance of the trail are included in this category. As well as the presence of invasive species. I'll give an overview and compile the rating (out of 10) at the end.

The trails were in decent condition, as they were heavily maintained. and there weren't many invasives at the park, only a few colonies of Tetramorium immigrans and Tapinoma sessile caused problems.

Condition Score: (6/10)


Final Score: (29/45)

Garden of the gods is a Decent location for ants but in Colorado, you can find better locations. The heavy foot traffic makes it hard to find certain species so only less traversed areas will have ants. Not only this but many of the areas where rocks are found to flip, are much too moist to have ants. So, therefore, It could be better. Again, I will have to do a part 2 with the nocturnal myrmecofauna. Thanks for reading!

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