Subfamily Dolichoderinae - Odorous 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)
Subfamily Dolichoderinae (Odorous Ants)
Explanation of Names
Grk. dolich-, slender, narrow
Grk. der-, collar
Lat. -inae, subfamily ending
Some species of Dolichoderus have a slender, necklike posterior portion of the head capsule.
5 native genera in North America: Dolichoderus (4 species), Dorymyrmex (14+), Forelius (2), Liometopum (3), Tapinoma (3 native, one introduced).
2 introduced genera: Linepithema (1), Technomyrmex (1).
Single-segmented abdominal pedicel (the petiole); 12-segmented antenna without club; distinct promesonotal suture; strong constriction between mesonotum and propodeum; lack sting or acidopore, but have transverse slit-shaped cloacal opening; soft flexible integument (but more rigid in Dolichoderus)
[adapted from description by Mississippi State U. - see Internet References below]
Tapinoma sessile virtually ubiquitous, Dolichoderus temperate eastern half of continent, other genera more regional.
Various, but tend to choose warm and/or xeric habitats. Some invade houses, especially in cooler months.
All have a muscular pharynx, elaborate proventriculus, and highly expansible crop, indicative of reliance on a primarily liquid diet (honeydew, nectar), but many also prey on small arthropods, or scavenge scat, carrion.
Most have the "typical" ant life cycle of colony establishment by a single queen that closes herself into a cell and feeds her first brood on secretions elaborated from stored fat and lysing wing muscles. However, a number of social-parasite colony-founders are found in the group, including several undescribed Dorymyrmex, currently being studied collaboratively by myrmecologists at several institutions. (more later . . .)
These are called odorous ants because of the strong-smelling lactone-family of chemical products elaborated in the anal glands of many species. These are apparently used mainly defensively, and are quite notable to collectors that break into the nests or disturb foraging columns of these ants.
The spelling of this subfamily name Dolichoderinae could be confused with the nematode subfamily Dolichodorinae. Spell check your writing of either name to avoid confusion.
- lists subfamilies and representative genera, and provides common names when known/available (Alex Wild, myrmecos.net)