Habitat and Geography

Eciton burchellii typically have a 35 day activity cycle.  In the first 20 days, the colony will take shelter in a bivouac, a temporary above ground nest in which most cover is provided by the worker ants themselves (Meisel 2006). This is achieved by linking their hooked arms together and forming a cylindrical mass. In this bivouac are swarms ranging anywhere from 150,000 to 700,000 workers (Wildscreen 2013) . “Raids” for food are also conducted daily during this time (Amateur Entomologists’ Society 2013). These raids flush out thousands of arthropods and other organisms in which the Army Ants and other army ant following creatures prey upon. These Army Ants create these bivouacs that are normally found near brush piles, tree trunks, beneath fallen logs, or inside logs and hollow trees (Wildscreen 2013). In the center of the bivouacs are thousands of immature life forms of Army Ants, one single queen, and around a thousand males (Smith and Haight 2007, Garnier et. al. 2013, Encyclopedia of Life 2013, Animal Diversity 2012). One major part of keeping the immature forms healthy is to keep a consistent temperature. They have developed a variety of individual and colony-level responses to both limit such encounters and minimize their risks (Meisel 2006). The ants that form the bivouac are able to regulate temperature accurately within plus or minus 1°C, but are extremely sensitive to temperatures greater than 43°C (Franks 1989, Meisel 2006). The environment that these ants live in can often have lethal temperatures, which is why the responses that E. burchellii have drive the movability and foraging effectiveness of each colony (Meisel 2006).

Most colonies of E. burchellii are located in the northern parts of South America and in regions of Central America (Animal Diversity 2012, BBC 2013, Encyclopedia of Life 2013). These ants are considered a forest interior species but colonies are reported routinely by rural people to pass through homes and gardens and to utilize remnant forest patches (Meisel 2006).They prefer a very humid and warm climate with a lot of forestry for cover. These ants are known to create their bivouacs several meters off the ground, but most nests are on the ground and they are mainly only seen in agricultural open areas when venturing and raiding for food (Animal Diversity 2012, Encyclopedia of Life 2013). It is species is that is easily characterized by cyclical reproduction that drives foraging behavior and colony mobility (Franks 1989). 

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