MANILA – Filipino-Canadian Mikey Bustos has made a groundbreaking discovery in his own backyard; an ant species that has never been recorded in the Philippines.
On Saturday, the content creator shared that the species of ants he found in 2021 in Cavite led to the geographical scientific discovery of Meranoplus bicolor, also known as the bicolored shield ant.
He describes this ant species as “cute but tough looking ants with a peachy body fuzz, a heart-shaped gaster, a unique red and black bumpy body, and two protruding spikes that jutted out of their backs.”
JOURNEY INTO DISCOVERY
Upon submitting ant specimens to Dr. Dave General, a myrmecologist, he was surprised to learn that this ant species had no record yet in the country.
Bustos clarifies that although this is a new discovery in the Philippines, it is a non-invasive species as it is found in neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Two years after its initial findings, Bustos was recently credited for the discovery. Meranoplus bicolor officially became the 555th ant species documented in the country after General's confirmation.
“It's amazing what one might find lurking in our own backyards if only more people took the time to look,” Bustos said in his social media posts.
NEW DISCOVERIES EVERYDAY
The ant keeper also shared that another ant species he collected is also under verification, believing it might be a brand new species.
"So far Dr. Dave General has told me that the ant we've caught...doesn’t look like anything he’s seen in Southeast Asia," Bustos shared.
Bustos believes that the "potentially brand-new ant species" appears to have come from the genus Crematogaster.
"I’m crossing my fingers, I hope it's new. I’m really excited," he added.
LITTLE CREATURES, BIG PICTURE
Despite its size, Bustos emphasizes that there is a bigger picture when talking about the importance of studying ants and its role in our lives.
"When you love ants, you can’t help but love the environment and how they fit in the ecosystem," he said.
The content creator hopes that this new discovery can inspire the next generation of ant keepers and entomologists as he encourages more young Filipinos to go out and explore what the country's biodiversity has to offer.
"The Philippines is a wealth of biodiversity and habitat for many creatures.... It’s important for Filipinos because we got to protect our home. We only have one nation and this place is really a paradise of life.," he said.
Bustos rose to fame for his comedic skits on YouTube but also manages another channel called AntsCanada dedicated to featuring his pet ants since 2010.