Monday Night Mystery

"Ah, an easy one!" you might think.

But no. I'm only handing out 4 points for identifying this common Illinois ant species. I'm more interested in this ant's quarry, for six points: 2 each for order, family, and genus. First correct guess in each category gets the points.

The cumulative point winner at the end of April gets an 8x10 print from the gallery, or a guest blog post on a topic of their choosing.

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I'm thinking Prenolepis imparis for the ant. The prey is a bit weirder -- the antennae make me think Coleoptera, even though the wings are unusual. It would be easier if the mouthparts were visible ....

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 29 Mar 2010 #permalink

Drat. Now that my brain sees "cicada", even though the antennae and wings are clearly all wrong, it refuses to entertain other possibilities. I'm going to go sleep this off and hope someone with insight can set me straight tomorrow.

No, I'm late again! I say Prenolepis imparis is the ant. The prey is a psocopteran (or psocodean, or whatever the order is called now).

Or, at the very least, beetle antennae on a cicada head and body, and cleverly altered caddisfly wings.


Real funny, Alex.

Now I'm really going to bed.

I'd been thinking Psocoptera too, but the antennae don't seem right. Of course, the head's at the wrong angle to get a good look at the clypeus.

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 29 Mar 2010 #permalink

Those filiform, clavate antennae just scream Coleoptera to me, but those wings are just wrong. Maybe it's the angle of the photo.

If no one gets it, I'd love to see a few closer crops of the head before you post the answer...

Here is my verdict so far: The ant is Prenolepis imparis, the false honeypot ant, because of the characteristic constriction on the alitrunk/mesosoma thingy. Its prey is of the order Psocodea, family Amphientometae. Genus ID is pending.

I don't know about the ant, but the prey is:

Order: Hemiptera

Family: Psyllidae

Species: Pachypsylla celtidismamma

Common Name: Hackberry Psyllid