We have lift off!
Three years in planning and two previous failed attempts at initiating this key weaver ant study culminated in an emotional ceremony on Thursday 5th June 2007 where fresh colonies of the ant were released over two days onto the trees in my study plot. I watched my precious large red ants swarm onto the release platform, immediately and instinctively attacking the mealworms supplied to them, and quickly dispersing via the cotton string bridges to the trees surrounding the release platform. Oh joy!
The purpose of this study is to determine if a favored host plant of this ant (Morinda citrifolia, "noni") mix-planted with Khaya ivorensis, will enhance the establishment of relocated colonies by providing constant and/or more diverse food sources. In other words, I wanted to see if the ants would do better in plots where they had access to both host plant species, compared with plots with only one host plant species.