Ants of the Florida Keys
Last updated almost 3 years ago
Florida Keys Ants:
Ants are animals in the insect family Formicidae. Although the Florida Keys are not very large in size (they are an archipelago of 1700 islands spanning ~356 square kilometers or ~137 square miles) the ant fauna is quite diverse and comprises 8 subfamilies, 35 genera, and over 90 species.
Much of the native ant diversity is likely due to the close proximity of the islands to mainland Florida, USA and past connections by land bridges. In addition the relatively close proximity of the Florida Keys to many of the Caribbean Islands (the tip of Key West is only 140 km from Cuba) and active hurricane zone could facilitate the transport of winged ants (sexuals) and in some cases whole colonies from these islands to the Florida Keys.
The Florida Keys has a diverse community of ant species, which includes many native species that play important roles in the local environment. Unfortunately the Keys are also home to a substantial number of human-introduced exotic ant species. The over 25 exotic species found on the islands are thought to be influencing the density and diversity of the native ants and other insects, although many of the exotics are only associated with human-disturbed environments. Two previous historical surveys of the ants of the Florida Keys (Wilson, 1964; Deyrup et al., 1988) have provided the foundation for our knowledge of the ant community with survey work continuing (Moreau et al., unpublished).