OHA presents ‘Ants: Marching in Hidden Worlds,’ a Highland Wonders event

Alex Wild photo Ant pupae. Ants will be the topic of discussion at the next Highlands Wonders event, Ants:

Alex Wild/submitted photo
Ant pupae. Ants will be the topic of discussion at the next Highlands Wonders event, Ants: Marching in Hidden Worlds

TONASKET – Entomologist Joseph Fortier will provide a glimpse into the enigmatic life of ants in a Highland Wonders presentation at the Community Cultural Center of Tonasket on Friday, Feb. 2 starting at 6:30 p.m.

He will explore the fascinating ways in which ants function as a community and their unique adaptations for survival, including their ability to communicate, solve problems, and fulfill specific roles for the sake of the colony. Their natural history will be discussed, from the first evidence of ants emerging to their ecological and genetic context. Fortier will share about the diversity among species, with some brief and simple information about which ant species we can expect to see in our region and how to identify them.

“Ants display an endlessly fascinating array of behavioral and physiological adaptations to diverse environments,” Fortier said..

He will explain how some species have coevolved with various plants and fungi. For example, certain trees have hollowed-out thorns specifically suited to shelter ants that in turn protect the tree from herbivores, while other species of ants grow gardens of fungi on leaf cuttings to feed their larvae. The type of fungi they cultivate is only found in association with these particular ants! Discover more about these and other mysteries from the hidden world of ants on February 2nd in Tonasket.

Fortier started his first insect collection in Spokane, WA when he was eight years old and was permanently infected by “the bug.” After living in Alaska, Fortier returned to Eastern Washington and earned his undergraduate degree in zoology from Washington State University. He spent two years in the Peace Corps in Western Samoa and then entered the Jesuits, was ordained in 1990, and later completed his Ph.D. in entomology at the University of Wyoming, specializing in parasitic wasps. Fortier taught in Jesuit schools for 10 years, and wrote a monograph on a new genus of parasitic wasp in which he described 72 new species. In 2008, he returned permanently to the Northwest, doing ministry in Keller and Inchelium, as well as a project working with aquatic macroinvertebrates for assessing the health of surface water on the Colville Indian Reservation.

Event at a Glance

When: Friday, February 2, at 6:30 p.m. (Dinner benefiting the CCC at 5:15 p.m., followed by the presentation with tea, coffee and desserts.)

Cost: Presentation is free; dinner is $8 for CCC members and $9 for non-members; desserts by donation (benefit for the CCC).

Where: Community Cultural Center of Tonasket, 411 S Western Ave

Menu: Fettuccine alfredo, baked chicken, garlic/almond green beans, and garlic bread (meal coordinated by Brian Sanderson)

To support OHA’s work, such as these free programs, community members can purchase an album of original local music at okanoganhighlands.org/music/highland-voices or on CD baby, iTunes, or Amazon.

This educational event is provided by OHA, and hosted at the CCC. OHA is a non-profit organization that works to educate the public on watershed issues. The Highland Wonders educational series features the natural history of the Okanogan Highlands and surrounding areas. OHA’s Education Program is designed to build the community’s capacity for environmental stewardship by increasing understanding of local natural history through a variety of free public learning opportunities.

For more info about this and other free upcoming educational events, visit www.okanoganhighlands.org/education/hw, or contact julie@okanoganhighlands.org / 509-476-2432. Past event videos are available on YouTube on the channel, “OHA’s Highland Wonder

About Julie Vanderwal

Julie Vanderwal (Ashmore) is the Conservation Coordinator for the Okanogan Highlands Alliance www.okanoganhighlands.org