蜜蚁

by xw

由 xw » 5月 09 2012
读蚁笔记:Oak gall, Honey ant Pot

今天总算读到蜜蚁(Honey Ant)或称蜜罐蚁(Honeypot Ant)的具体生活行为以及
自然学发现的一整个情形,在此再笔记一下。蜜蚁居住于澳洲大陆及北美洲的沙漠
中,以花蜜和植物分泌为食,有些也会放牧蚜虫(Aphids)粉蚧(mealybugs)汲蜜。
我只笔记一下北美沙漠的蜜蚁,在那里,Myrmecocystus蜜蚁采集的是一种橡树
(shin oak, Quercus sinuata var. breviloba)瘿(Gall)上分泌的树液,内含糖蜜。

在北美树林散步,鲜有不留意到树瘿(gall),一种树上滚落的绿球,内空空的,秋
天或落地久了会枯黄破损。我约摸记得当初学植物时老师说过树瘿恐怕是植物果实
进化成形的一个契机,我当即深信。我喜欢一些奇论,也喜欢树瘿这种植物现象。
就是树干上生的树瘤(tree tumor/wart),那么明显的现象,并不让我提起兴趣。



北美荒漠中发现这种蜜蚁行动的是一位长老会牧师 Henry C. McCook博士。他行教
中的业余兴趣就是研究蚂蚁。1879年他在奔赴新墨西哥州途经Colorado Springs听
说这种蚂蚁,拜访Manitou的Charles Adams将中时他了解到一英里之外就有。就此
他便着手研究开来,那以前有关此处蜜蚁尚未有多少正规研究,蜜蚁的内情为人所知
的为实不多。

Dr. McCook在此驻足了一夏的几个月,就露营于Garden of the Gods。我读这本书
的作者Ross E. Hutchins沿着他的足迹/描绘找到了他露营旧址,也对该种蜜蚁作了
细致的观察与笔记。

...No ants were to be seen, but I was not concerned since Dr. McCook had
found that their nightly forays do not begin until about 7:30pm. Now and
then I turned on my flashlight but still no ants were in sight. Then suddenly,
they began streaming out of the nest entrance and crawling across the ground.
Their destination was a nearby clump of shin oaks and when they reached
these they climbed up trunks and out onto the twigs. Growing on these twigs
were marble-sized galls, and it was these galls that ants visited. Minute
droplets of honey dew were issuing from them, and these droplets were being
collected by the ants. When the ants' abdomens had become so swollen that
they could hardly walk, they hurried homeward across the gravely earth.

橡树球瘿有特别的故事;它们实于橡树枝叶上,源于一种小黄蜂(wasp,Holcaspis)
产卵于树组织之内。黄蜂幼虫(Larvae)身体分泌的一些物质导致橡树生张出弹子
球状的树瘿以应对。晚上,橡树瘿上会分泌甜甜的蜜汁(Honeydew),渗透到树瘿
的表面,成群的蜜罐蚁采集回窝内。这种劳动一般在夜里进行,一直到午夜收获盈
盈为止。

When the underground galleries are opened, the helpless replete ants with
their greatly swollen abdomens can be seen suspended from the ceilings.

蚂蚁社会分工明确,有所谓种姓Caste制度,此处身负大蜜罐(enlarged crops)的有
特别称呼repletes。夏天收集工蚁的采集,冬天再施发出去。至于怎么弄成蜜罐子
的角色,象现今华尔街替人看钱的Bankers,书中未解明,或说未有探明。每个蜜罐
有野葡萄那么大,金黄色,虽然甜度不及蜂蜜。也是当地原住民或早期孩童的美食,
每个replete罐装半勺糖蜜,墨西哥原住民有用此酿酒。当然墨西哥的Dr. Pablo de
Llave最早对该蚁作地详细报告:Memorias de Historia Literaturea Ciencias y
Artes(1832),Dr. McCook估计一千个小蜜罐能采一磅蜜水,荒漠之中,也是地藏
甘霖。有时一窝能挖出六百多个小糖蜜罐罐来。

北美的蜜罐蚁(Myrmecocystus)分布广泛,从伊达俄州一直到墨西哥城。一般分布
在荒山野岭,洞口稳密,埋藏深深极难被发现。同样在荒漠中罐藏蜜的蚁类在澳洲有
Camponotus inflatus,通体黑漆,一般称black honey ants。蜜罐也是当地人尤其
是孩童的糖果(Jirumba)。类似的还有南部非洲荒漠中的Plagiolepis trimeni,颜
色金黄,只是蜜罐鼓得没有美洲与澳洲的那么丰满。
2013-08-23 14:10:47

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