I is for Iridiomyrmex cordatus
Drawing uses photo taken by Alex Wild – website here
Iridiomyrmex cordatus is a species of ant, that lives high in the trees in the rainforests of southeast Asia and Australia, inside a epiphyte – a plant that lives its life on the tree and gains its needs from it.
This particular epiphyte lives very high up and has plenty of sun and rain, but cannot get nutrients – and amazingly, this is what the ants provide!
They live in the honeycomb of tunnels in the round plant, protected by the spiky outer walls, and in return they leave the remains of their prey inside little growths in the plant’s tunnels. These remains decompose and the plant can gain its nourishment from them.
This is their slightly insane poem – with apologies to Max Bygraves (feel free to sing it to the tune of ‘There’s a Tiny House‘:
In a small round plant,
in the canopy,
live some shiny ants,
in a colony –
and they live their lives
All material © Liz Brownlee
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