What the Heck Is This?

This photo by Alex Wild is just amazing, and it illustrates how little we know about the world under our feet.

Okay, that's all the hint you get. The image itself offers some pretty obvious clues, but to guess exactly what this is, you'd have to be an expert of sorts.

See below for the full size image and an explanation.

It's a photo of honeypot ants which, like Pooh, like to keep some food stored around the home. Some ants in each honeypot ant colony are living receptacles called "repletes." They get engorged with food and hang from the ceilings of deep underground chambers.

Myrmecocystus mexicanus, as the species is known, is a soil-nesting ant living in dry areas western North America.

Check out more wild photos from Alex Wild, and more about ants on his bug website.

Some honeypot ants act as living receptacles  for the colony's food.
Some honeypot ants act as living receptacles for the colony's food.
Credit: Alex Wild, myrmecos.net

Got a strange or interesting photo related to science, nature or technology? What the Heck, send it to me, and maybe I'll use it. Or follow me on Twitter, or Facebook.