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Tribe Ecitonini - Army Ants

ant - Neivamyrmex antz - Neivamyrmex pilosus Army Ant - Neivamyrmex Nocturnal Insect - Neivamyrmex Another army ant? - Neivamyrmex swainsonii More Male Legionary Ants? - Neivamyrmex - male Legionary Ant male, lateral - Neivamyrmex mandibula - male wasp? - Labidus coecus
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Formicoidea (Ants)
Family Formicidae (Ants)
Subfamily Dorylinae
Tribe Ecitonini (Army Ants)
Other Common Names
Legionary Ants, Driver Ants (names more often used for Old World army ants)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
used to be treated as a separate subfamily Ecitoninae
Numbers
3 genera north of Mexico: Labidus, Nomamyrmex each with a single species, Neivamyrmex with ~2 dozen spp.
Size
workers 2-18 mm; queens, males 9-30+ mm
Identification
Workers superficially similar to Myrmicinae, because of 2-segmented waist and general habitus.
Differ as follows:
eyes small, reduced to one or a few indistinct facets
antennal scapes short (significantly less than the head length), thick, especially apically - in life, antennae constantly and rapidly in motion
antennal bases close together separated by only a narrow rearward extension of the clypeus that blends insensible into the narrow frons.
huge, wingless queens and wasplike males unlike those of any other ants
Males are so different from workers that there are concurrent taxonomies for the two castes, in which males and workers that have not yet been associated have different names. (DNA promises to resolve some of this excess)
Range
Southern USA, Neotropics, 2 spp. north to Virginia, Iowa, n. California
Habitat
Nests impermanent, in pre-existing subterranean chambers, stumps, logs, rock piles.
Food
mostly brood of other ants, with varying degrees of prey species specialization
Life Cycle
These have cyclic reproduction and foraging. Large, synchronized batches of eggs are laid by the huge queens during a period of relatively low colony activity, during which pupae grown from the previous batch of eggs also mature. Larvae hatch simultaneously with the eclosion of the new brood of adults, initiating a period of very active predation and nearly daily relocation to a new nest site. In North American species, a sexual brood of a few permanently wingless virgin queens and a few dozen males is produced at the end of summer, and the brood cycle is suspended during the winter months.
Remarks
North American army ants are nocturnal, except in cool or heavily overcast weather, so are not often seen, though in some cases relatively abundant. They forage along fast-moving, anastomosing trails, harvesting brood from ant nests, often with little or no damage to the adult population (a sustainable harvest).