“Iguazú a present”

Dinoponera australis the Tiger ant. One of the biggest ants in the world, these ants don’t have queens, and the workers fight for reproduction rights.

Iguazú Falls was officially our best outing so far. The only other possible contender was the Perú trip. Despite what an entire two weeks there had to offer—holding the world’s most painful insect and finding my new favorite food (Lomo saltado)—Iquazú Falls still comes out on top.

Let me explain why. First, Iguazú Falls is twice Niagra, but in the middle of the freakin’ Amazon (technically incorrect, but who cares). When I say twice Niagra, I mean twice Niagra. At 82 meters high, and over 2,700 meters wide, Iguazú Falls is certainly beautiful.

About half of the falls…

The falls are something indescribable. Anyone who has seen them can understand this. There is just nothing close to it. And standing watching water pour over a sheer cliff and disappear was mesmerizing, frightening and humbling. (You can’t see the bottom as vapor created by the falls shoots up and obscures everything) And this spans over a mile. A mile of falls.

The Falls caught my attention, the jungle kept it.

The Amazon rainforest is a hugely diverse forest; in fact, only about 1% of Argentina is covered by jungle, and yet 50% of all Argentinian organisms are found there. I got to see it all.

Ants are a passion of mine that I’ve been interested in for years. A dream of mine was to meet a Bullet Ant (cross that off the list), and once that was done, I moved on to other ants, including but not limited to:

  • Leafcutter ants (Acromyrmex and Atta)
  • Trap Jaw ants (Odontomachus)
  • Fire ants (Solenopsis)
  • … and much more.

I got to see them all and more.

The leafcutter ants were limited to the Acromyrmex species, apparently Atta isn’t found that deep in the jungle. Acromyrmex ants are mostly scavengers that carry of dead leaves into the nest to feed their nutritious fungus. Atta ants are more industrial, and their colonies can be huge, with millions of ants in them. Do not mess with leafcutter ants. Some of them can bite through skin. Truly, a death by a thousand cuts.

TrapJaws, I only saw one specimen, which was spotted by my dad. These ants have jaws that can open 180º, and slam shut at over 100 mph. Odontomachus aim these jaws at the ground to launch them away from danger. Equipped with a painful sting, these ants are truly incredible. (Thanks dad!)

Fire ants are perhaps the most infamous ants in the world. Solenopsis ants are extremely aggressive when it comes to defending their nest, and they can put allergic people into shock. I stayed away from these ants, and so should you.

One other ant that I saw was the biggest ant I’ve ever seen, at an inch and half, the Dinoponera australis is massive. These ants don’t have queens; instead, the workers fight amongst themselves until a dominant ant emerges victorious. This ant is called a gamergate and has to fight each new ant to maintain control of the colony.

That was only the ants that I saw, don’t get me started on the butterflies, spiders, and other stuff, that all deserves its own blog, as well as the falls themselves.

Ian

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