Comprehensive Description

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Paltothyreus tarsatus (Fabricius) HNS

Text Figure 6

Of this species, which has been repeatedly described by previous authors, Lang and Chapin collected a number of single specimens from the following localities: Yakuluku, [[worker]]; Stanleyville, [[worker]], [[male]]; Medje, [[worker]]; Risimu, [[worker]]; Leopoldville, [[worker]]; Bafwasende, [[worker]]; Bafwabaka, [[worker]]; Faradje, [[worker]]; Niangara, [[worker]], [[male]].

In addition to these, 135 workers and 5 dealated females were taken from the stomachs of four species of toads (Bufo funereus, tuberosus, superciliaris, and polycercus) captured by Lang and Chapin in the following localities: Niapu, [[worker]]; Niangara, [[worker]]; Ngayu, [[worker]]; Medje, [[worker]], [[queen]], [[male]]; Avakubi, [[worker]]; Akenge, [[worker]], [[queen]]; Garamba, [[worker]]; Gamangui, [[worker]]; also a single worker from Faradje taken from the stomach of a frog (Rana occipitalis).

It is surprising to find that this large ant is represented by a greater number of specimens than any other species in the toad stomachs examined, for the insect is provided with a very formidable sting, is swallowed without mutilation, and ean hardly be killed very quickly by the weak gastric fluids of the amphibians.

Concerning the habits of P. tarsatus HNS , Arnold writes: "This species is widely but locally distributed. Generally the worker and female go about singly, but occasionally forage in short columns, in single file. The food is varied but consists largely of termites. The nests have several entrances, which are sometimes surrounded by large heaps of finely divided earth. The species has a most powerful and offensive smell, which appears to me to resemble that of the juice in a foul tobacco pipe." According to Santschi this species "repand une abominable odeur de charogne."

One of the worker specimens from Medje and one from Niangara had a long Cordyceps growing out of the side of the thorax. These ants were attached to sticks with their mandibles, a common condition in ants that die from the attacks of these and other fungi. Dr. Bequaert says that ''dead specimens of Paltothyreus tarsatus HNS thus parasitized are sometimes found, fixed with the mandibles to a leaf or grass-stalk. The fungus lias been referred to Cordyceps myrmecophila. (Cesati), of the family Hypocreaceae. Its fructification usually grows out between the coxal articulations, on a slender stalk about 2 cm. long and ending in a club-shaped organ which bears the ascocarps" (See part IV).

Fig. 6. Paltothyreus tarsatus (Fabricius) HNS . Head of worker.


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