New photos on myrmecos.net

rohweri16s.jpg

 

 

If I had to pick a favorite myrmicine ant, I'd go with the heavily armored Neotropical genus Cephalotes. These arboreal ants are typically thought of as rainforest canopy dwellers, but we have a desert species here in Arizona, Cephalotes rohweri, that is the northernmost species in an otherwise tropical genus. They nest in abandoned beetle burrows in the dead wood of living Palo Verde trees.

 

Earlier this month, myrmecologist Scott Powell was in town to scope out a potential research project on our local populations. Scott has been studying how the nesting ecology of these ants drives the evolution of the highly-specialized soldier caste, focusing on populations in Brazil, but is looking to expand his project to include other species. By the looks of it, C. rohweri will make a fine experimental system. Scott was kind enough to let me photograph a few of the colonies he brought into the lab for some preliminary studies, and this morning I uploaded a few of them to the galleries at myrmecos.net:

 

http://www.myrmecos.net/new.html

 

Incidentally, it turns out that the best way to bait Cephalotes is to urinate on a tree. I'm not making this up. There's something about urine that attracts the workers.

More like this

What's new in ant science this week? Lots. Atopomyrmex mocquerysi, South Africa Myrmecological News has posted a pair of studies online.  The first, by Martin Kenne et al, observe the natural history of one of Africa's most conspicuous yet chronically understudied arboreal ants, Atopomyrmex…
Pheidole creightoni major worker, California After reading a couple times through Corrie Moreau's hot-off-the-press Pheidole evolution paper, I am pleased to give it a thumbs-up. The paper is behind a subscription barrier, so I have distilled the results into an informal summary: Pheidole is…
For reasons that aren't clear to me, but are possibly related to the onset of summer bug season, traffic here at myrmecos blog has surged over the past few weeks.  We're now getting more daily visitors than do my galleries at myrmecos.net. I'd like nothing more than to entertain all the new…
Neivamyrmex nigrescens, Arizona 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…