formicidae

Myrmecos

Tag archives for formicidae

While in sunny Florida last summer (ah, sunshine! I vaguely remember what that looks like), I spent an hour peering into a nest of little Dorymyrmex elegans. These slender, graceful ants are among Florida’s more charming insects. Every few minutes, though, the flow of elegant orange insects out of the nest was interrupted by a…

Ants of Archbold

The Archbold Biological Station hosts 100+ species of ants.  Here are a few of them.

From the recent documentary Ants: Nature’s Secret Power, a glimpse of how researchers study ant behavior in the lab: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CAjWaZx2Ks]

A query from the inbox: Hi, my question is regarding the gender of the worker ants (and the ant queen). As we all know; they are female, however was this discovered many centuries ago or is this a recent discovery? I plead ignorance.  I know apiculturists had figured out the sex of worker bees in…

If it quacks like a queen…

As if butterflies weren’t flamboyant enough already, it seems that some of them actively impersonate queens. Queen ants, that is.  A report by Francesca Barbero et al in today’s issue of Science documents a clever strategy employed by a European butterfly, the Mountain Alcon Blue  Maculinea rebeli, to infiltrate nests of Myrmica schencki.  The immature…

Must we call them meat ants?

I’ve never taken to the Australian vernacular for one of their most conspicuous insects.  The latin Iridomyrmex purpureus translates as “purple rainbow ant”, referring both to the base color of the body and to the attractive metallic refractions on the cuticle.  But Aussies instead call this colorful species the “meat ant.” Crass by comparison. On…

The most-studied ants, an update

My earlier list of the most-studied ant species contained a few omissions.  Here is a more inclusive list: Ant species sorted by number of BIOSIS-listed publications, 1984-2008 The Top 10 Species Publications Solenopsis invicta 984 Linepithema humile 343 Lasius niger 250 Formica rufa 167 Atta sexdens 163 Formica polyctena 160 Solenopsis geminata 151 Myrmica rubra…

A mysterious tramp: Pheidole moerens

Pheidole moerens is a small, barely noticeable insect that travels about with human commerce, arriving without announcement and slipping quietly into the leaf litter and potted plants about town.   As introduced ants go, P. moerens is timid and innocuous- it’s certainly no fire ant.  The species is now present in the southeastern United States, a…

Big Sister, Little Sister

Leafcutting ants of the genus Atta have perhaps the most complex caste systems of all the social insects.  Mature colonies contain millions of workers of varying shapes and sizes.  Here are two sisters from opposing ends of the spectrum. photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D ISO 100, f/13,…

Lonely