Ants are members of the Order Hymenoptera are are related to wasps and bees. Like their cousins, ants are very social creatures and have very well organized colonies that have literally conquered large swathes of land from creatures supposedly a lot more powerful and intelligent than they. As various species have evolved, each one has unique traits, characteristics, and hive thought that separate them from their peers. Army ants for example don’t construct nests whereas the Weaver ants construct nests from leaves up in trees, some are predatory and others are scavengers, each species of ant are completely unique. Regardless of species though, fish love them.
Ant colonies are highly organized structures. Queens create and then maintain colonies for up to 30 years. Ants start their lives in eggs that, if fertilized, become female workers in the colony, if they’re not fertilized they become male “drones.” Once they hatch, they begin live in a larval form, unlike other maggots, ant larva don’t have eyes or legs. Movement of ant larva is limited to wiggling around and opening their mouth so they can be fed by the queen or by worker ants. After being fed for awhile, the larva generally encase themselves in a silk cocoon-like structure and change into an adult ant, this stage is known as the pupa stage-it should be noted that not all ant species wrap themselves in a silk cocoon. After emerging from the cocoon, the ants are generally pale yellow until their exoskeleton harden.
Ant nests can be found throughout any and all climes, from the city to the forest. Because of this ants are always near some waterway, whether a lake, stream, or river, there will be ants. Flying ants may be blown into the water during their nuptial flight and workers and soldiers might be swept into the current during rainfall or sudden rising of the stream. This is all to say that ants are not an uncommon food source for your local fish.
A common complaint about ant patterns is the fact that they might be difficult to see on the water. Most species of ants have flying varieties, drones and princesses, ant patterns may also have a white antron or cdc wing tied in. Not only does the wing mimic the wing of the natural but also adds a bright visible component to the fly. Another way is to tie the ant in a parachute style with a white post for visibility.
Ants should be fished anytime of the day, if there’s a slight breeze try a winged ant. From late March through October ants are working hard for their colony and some are likely to find themselves in the water. After floating for a little bit, if not picked up by a hungry trout, ants will necessarily sink. Occasionally fish an ant like you would an emerger, a few inches underneath the surface. Being so prolific, remember 15-25% of the terrestrial biomass of Earth, ants are a great searching pattern, and should be in everyone’s fly box.
As always, Good Luck and Guid Luck!
"Hymenoptera name server. Formicidae species count.". Ohio State University.
Tim Holtom. (2014). Ant Life. Retrieved from http://www.antark.net/ant-life/
Jeff Morgan. (2001, July 30). Tying Better Ant Patterns. Retrieved from
Atta cephalotes. Left most 7 are workers of various castes, right 2 are queens (rightmost: winged form).
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