Myrmecos

Archives for December, 2008

New species: Forelius damiani

Forelius damiani Guerrero & Fernández 2008 Colombia The ant genus Forelius – named for the eminent Swiss myrmecologist Auguste Forel-  is known for its abundance in hot, dry climates in both North and South America.  This affinity for deserts has given the genus a markedly disjunct distribution, abundant in subtropical South America and in the…

Martialis up on Antweb

Remember Martialis heureka?  Antweb.org has just posted some new high-res images of the specimen:

Army Ants of the North

Army ants have a decidedly tropical reputation.  The term conjures spectacular images of swarms sweeping across remote Amazonian villages, devouring chickens, cows, and small children unlucky enough to find themselves in the path of the ants.  Of course, the habits of real army ants are not nearly so sensational, but they are at least as…

How ants acheive “balance”?

From an interview with E. O. Wilson: [Q:]Are ants better at anything than humans? [Wilson:] Human beings have not yet made an accommodation with the rest of life—whereas ants, whose history dates back more than 100 million years, have achieved that balance, mostly by specializing among the 14,000 known species in terms of where they…

Friday Beetle Blogging: Pill Beetle

This lovely little round insect is called a pill beetle.  Why is that, you ask? Check this out:

The Vertebrate Bias

The above pie chart shows the relative proportions of described species in various groups of organisms.  As we can see, most species are invertebrate animals.  Things like snails, flatworms, spiders, sponges, and insects. Now compare that slice of pie to the proportion of GenBank sequences that represent invertebrates: Yes, that thin blue wedge is all…

The wingless hangingfly

I lived in California until a few years ago, and one thing I enjoyed about the Golden State was the unique insect fauna, full of bizarre and relictual creatures.  One of the oddities was the wingless hangingfly, a leggy mecopteran that lurks in the coastal grasslands. The insect above was photographed indoors.  I made a…

The Asian Needle Ant

I see that Pachycondyla chinensis, which people are apparently calling “The Asian Needle Ant”, is making headlines this week. I know very little about P. chinensis, but the ant is apparently becoming widespread in the Southeast.  Rob Dunn’s lab at NCSU researches the species and has put up a page about it. Also, check out…

Prevailing wisdom holds that imported fire ants marched across the southern United States on the virtue of their fierce nature and superior competitive ability.  The fire ant conquest of the south reads like a tale of bravery and intrigue, but according to Walt Tschinkel and Josh King it is also not true.   They have a…

Blagojevich and the Ants

I can’t help but feel gleeful at this morning’s news.   Back in January I had landed, I thought, a postdoctoral position at the Illinois Natural History Survey.  It was a dream job.  I’ve been itching for years to figure out what’s really going on with the evolutionary history of Camponotus, a hugely important ant genus…