The Bigfoot of ants, named not because of its massive size but because of its elusive nature, was found recently – in suburban Cary, N.C., of all places.
Benoit Guenard, an NC State graduate student in biology, found a pair of the most rarely seen ants in the United States, Amblyopone trigonignatha, took photos of them, and then – thinking they were members of a more common species, Amblyopone pallipes – placed them under a rock.
The rare ant was found 60 years ago in Concord, N.C., and then named by an eminent Harvard biologist. But with its close resemblance to a more common ant and its apparent aversion to being seen by people, its status as a species has been called into question.
Guenard’s photos, part of a project to map the ants of the world, caught the attention of an ant blogger – such people do apparently exist – who happened to notice the similarities to the rare ant. Sure enough, the rare ant’s rounder head and smaller set of toothlike projections near its mandibles were confirmed by another ant specialist in California, who pronounced Bigfoot alive and well.
Guenard now calls for ant lovers in the Piedmont regions of North and South Carolina and Georgia to help him track down the lost, found and lost-again ant.
After all, finding the Bigfoot of ants is a lot safer than finding its 8-foot-tall cousin.