Carpenter ants build trails and nests in wood much like termites. Other ants live in the ground. I found the ant pictured here on a sunny hillside in Scott County, Mo. It and a few other workers were carrying small balls of dirt out of their underground nest and depositing them at the entrance.
You can see in one of the photos how the ant carries a dirt ball with its mandibles. These ants were about 5/8 inch long and their dirt pile was about 4 1/2 inches in diameter with the entryway near the center.
Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.