Pine tree ants, Liometopum luctuosum, are common in the 2000-4000 foot elevation range in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. These ants prefer to nest in large pine trees. The colonies get quite large.
A Super Colony? Pine tree ants will almost suddenly appear in spring, trailing from pine tree to pine tree. I (JT) have followed trails from tree to tree, and basically see a web of interconnected trails. It seems they form some sort of super-colony. As mentioned in the previous post on pine tree ants, I once took some pine tree ants from Pine Mountain Lake, in Groveland, to Columbia College, in Columbia, during early spring when the ants are trailing out to set up spring and summer nests. I placed the Groveland ants along side of a large trail of Columbia ants, and the Groveland ants immediately joined the Columbia ants’ trail. This observation makes me wonder if they are not all part of the same super-colony.
In their spring efforts to set up nesting areas, pine tree ants often move into the ceilings and walls of houses. Homes built with Celotex insulation are common targets, with the ants tunneling through the insulation to make nests, and throwing out the insulation, into piles on the floor of the house or cabin.
pine tree ant, Liometopum luctuosum. Picture by Jose Rodriguez.
pine tree ant, Liometopum luctuosum . Picture by Jose Rodriguez.