Ants are ubiquitous inhabiting all continents except Antarctica. In Columbia County you can find them just about everywhere in terrestrial habitats including forests, fields, and wetlands.
Their abundance is evidence of their importance in ecosystem function. Ants are the number one soil turners in the Northeast and the only native ones (earthworms are non-native here!). They are garbage collectors consuming dead plant and animal material. Some species are important seed dispersers of our most beautiful ephemeral wild flowers.
Their diversity and ecology is fascinating. We have mound builders, thief ants, slave makers, aphid tenders, and acorn dwellers (just to name a few). So far we have documented 70 species for Columbia County.
Link to our current Columbia County species list.
This page will bring you to information about our modest field guide to the County's ant fauna. You will find a clickable guide to genera, and links to species pages with photos, ID synopses, and natural history.
The information is based off of our observations and Aaron Ellison et al's A Field Guide to the Ants of New England (more info on the book below).
Here are my top 5 favorite Columbia County ants (in no particular order).
A Field Guide to the Ants of New England. (Aaron M. Ellison et al, 2012) This is a wonderful guide and the only one of its kind. We use it almost exclusively for our identifications. It's not just for the serious myrmecologist but loaded with photos, drawings, factoids and context into ant studies in New England. Great for any natural history enthusiast.
Ants of North America. A guide to the genera (Brian L. Fisher and Stefan P. Cover, 2007).
Ants of Ohio (Gary A. Coovert, 2008): A bit more technical but very useful guide with a lot of overlap of species we have in the County including Formica prociliata which is not in the New England Guide.
Antweb.org: A site whose mission is to image the world's ant species. High quality photos of pinned specimens with some ecological information.
Antwiki.org: Another site with lots of images of pinned specimens, and plenty of information for the lay person. I've found this site to have more ecological information (for ants around here at least) than antweb, but it is hit or miss depending on the species.