Myrmecos

Battle of the Pavement Ants

Battle of the Pavement Ants, definitely not Tetramorium caespitum

While walking through the park yesterday, I happened across a sidewalk boundary dispute between two colonies of Pavement Ants.  As is their habit, these little brown ants opted to dispense with diplomacy in favor of all-out warfare.

Incidentally, if I had to pick one thing that annoys me about the purely molecular systematists, it is their tendency to avoid dealing with the taxonomic consequences of their work.  A recent paper by Schlick-Steiner et al (2006) gave a detailed picture of the genetic structure within the Tetramorium caespitum species group.  Among their results was that the common Pavement Ant, a widespread insect introduced from Eurasia, was definitely not Tetramorium caespitum, the name everyone has used for this insect for a century or so.

But instead of figuring out what latin name should apply to our common Pavement Ant, or even devoting a paragraph to giving it a new valid name, they labelled it an unceremonius “Tetramorium Species E”.    So there it is: Species E.

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D

ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec, flash diffused through tracing paper

Comments

  1. #1 Aydin
    September 23, 2008

    I often come across large congregations of ants on sidewalks. I didn’t know the “common Pavement Ant” was an alien. Are there also native “Pavement Ants”?

  2. #2 James C. Trager
    September 24, 2008

    Tetramorium tsushimae has been showing up in Illinois — Might yours be that one? Side by side, the latter is easily recognized by smaller size and typically somewhat more yellowish coloring, especially of the mesosoma. BTW, I hear there’s a real revision in the works that will provide names for all those “lettered” species.

  3. #3 wavemaker2
    September 24, 2008

    Awesome picture. And I have heard of those Alien Ants. They will actually eat wire’s etc.. til l8er

    wavemaker2.wordpress.com

  4. #4 myrmecos
    September 24, 2008

    Aydin: The pavement ants are all introduced.

    James: Thanks- I’ll check it out. The ants in my photo look a bit lighter than what I’m used to seeing.

  5. #5 Carolina Maine
    September 24, 2008

    Interesting…

  6. #6 random girl
    September 24, 2008

    …creepy.