Family Formicidae - Ants
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)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
recent advances in taxonomy summarized in(1)
, also see(2)(3)(4)
Explanation of Names
Formicidae Latreille 1809
goes back to Old English aemete, aemette(5)
is an archaic Modern English variant
over 700 spp. in 80 genera in our area(6)(7)
; 14,000 spp. in ~300 genera of 20+ subfamilies total(8)
; faunal checklists for many US states provided on (9)
▪ QC checklist(10)
Overview of our faunaTaxa not yet in the guide are marked (*) and linked to AntWeb pages(6)
Tribe Plagiolepidini *Acropyga
Primitively, antennomere and palp segment counts are typical for Aculeata, antennae 12-segmented (13 in males), palp formula 6,4.
These are variously reduced among different genera, with some ants having as few as 6 antennomeres and palp formula 1, 1. Such reductions are most common in ants with strictly subterranean or cryptic biology.
Key to subfamilies & Midwestern genera in(11)
; New England(12)
(good for most of the e. NA); se. US(13)
Most North American species nest in soil, leaf litter, or dead wood, but toward the south more and more arboreal species occur. All Pseudomyrmex are arboreal or stem-inhabiting, as are many Camponotus, Temnothorax, Crematogaster. Some species forage subterraneously, in litter or wood, while most forage on the ground and low vegetation. Arboreal species usually, and many terrestrial ones, often, forage high in trees, especially in quest of honeydew or extrafloral nectar.
Most species forage in warm, humid weather, diurnally in cooler and moister climates, mostly nocturnally in deserts. Ants retreat into the nest from cold or extreme, especially dry, heat. Prenolepis is exceptional in foraging mainly in the cooler months, even on warm days in winter.
Winged reproductive castes are reared in spring or summer. Typically, they fly shortly after emergence, but in many Camponotus, Prenolepis & Nylanderia alates overwinter in the parent nest and fly the following spring.
Most species are to a degree predators or scavengers, and have a sweet tooth, gathering extrafloral/floral nectar, honeydew, lycaenid larval exudates, or fruit juice for sugar content. Elaiosomes of myrmecochorous seeds may be a significant source of amino acids, monosaccharides and lipids. Larvae can eat solid food, while adults have a very narrow oesophagus and feed on liquids or very small particles such as pollen. Adults often get partially digested, liquid food, regurgitated by the larvae; Amblyoponinae feed on haemolymph by chewing of the pleural region of larval abdominal segments! Many Ponerinae, Cerapachyinae and Ecitoninae are specialized predators. All Attini cultivate particular strains of fungus on compost derived from vegetable matter, cut leaves or the frass of phytophagous insects. Myrmicine genera Pogonomyrmex, Veromessor and some Pheidole, especially in arid regions, depend largely on seeds gathered not for elaiosomes but for starchy content.
In some, worker pupae are naked or facultatively naked, while sexual pupae are in a cocoon. All extant ants are eusocial
or are workerless parasites requiring the eusocial medium of a host ant species' colony. Length and number of instars and duration of development varies, but in most takes under a year. Most genera overwinter brood in the form of relatively uniform-age, partially grown larvae, while a few overwinter mixed age brood, and others carry no brood through winter. In boreal myrmicine species, rearing of sexual brood may take more than one season.
Males die shortly after mating, and females tear off their wings after mating, or just before entering a nesting site, and remain wingless for the rest of their lives (1‒20+ years, depending on species). Nest-founding queens typically rear the first brood of small (nanitic or minim) workers alone, either sealed in a nest cell and feeding off stored fat and lysing wing musculature (claustrally), or occasionally (semiclaustrally) or regularly foraging for food while rearing the first brood, but almost never after the first workers emerge. In many species, mated queens may join established colonies of their own species. Still others typically invade a colony of a related species and gain the help of the workers of that colony to rear their brood. This may result in a temporary (if the host queen is killed) or less often, permanent mixed-species colony in which the host queen is not killed (inquilinism). In some species, the so-called slave-makers, the host queen is killed, but mixed worker populations are maintained by brood robbing from nests of the appropriate host species. Finally, in Ecitoninae and some others, colonies reproduce by fission. Ecitonines have cyclic, highly synchronized brood development, and associated nearly daily migration to new temporary nest sites ("bivouacs") when growing larvae are present.
|12.||A field guide to the ants of New England|
Ellison et al. 2012. Yale University Press. 398 pp. 2012. Yale University Press.
|14.||The distribution of ants in Texas.|
O’Keefe, S.T., J.L. Cook, T. Dudek, D.F. Wunneburger, M.D. Guzman, R.N. Coulson, and S.B. Vinson. 2000. Southwestern Entomologist, Supplemental Issue No. 22. 92 pp.
Bert Holldobler, Edward O. Wilson. 1990. Belknap Press.
|16.||The ants of North America|
William Steel Creighton. 1950. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University 104: 1-585.