- Dorsal cuticular flap of the metapleural gland anteriorly reduced and posteromedially extended
- Petiole with complete tergosternal fusion
- Postpygidial glands absent
- Acidopore at apex of hypopygium
- Glands producing formic acid
- Sting nonfunctional (vestigial to absent)
- Lancets disarticulated from sting
- Pygidial gland absent
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
|Specimen Records:||18,089||Public Records:||3,980|
|Specimens with Sequences:||15,343||Public Species:||465|
|Specimens with Barcodes:||14,516||Public BINs:||498|
|Species With Barcodes:||942|
Locations of barcode samples
Formicines retain some primitive features, such as the presence of cocoons around pupae, the presence of ocelli in workers, and little tendency toward reduction of palp or antennal segmentation in most species, except subterranean groups. Extreme modification of mandibles is rare, except in the genera Myrmoteras and Polyergus. On the other hand, some members show considerable evolutionary advancement in behaviors such as slave-making and symbiosis with root-feeding homopterans. Finally, all formicines have very reduced stings and enlarged venom reservoirs, with the venom gland, specialized (uniquely among ants) for the production of formic acid.
Formicine ants have a single node-like or scale-like petiole (postpetiole entirely lacking) and the apex of the abdomen has a circular or U-shaped opening, usually fringed with hairs (acidopore). A functional sting is absent, and defense is provided by the ejection of formic acid through the acidopore. If the acidopore is concealed by the pygidium and difficult to discern, then the antennal sockets are located well behind the posterior margin of the clypeus (cf. Dolichoderinae). In most formicines the eyes are well developed (ocelli may also be present), the antennal insertions are not concealed by the frontal carinae, and the promesonotal suture is present and flexible.
- Camponotini Forel, 1878
- Calomyrmex Emery, 1895
- Camponotus Mayr, 1861 – carpenter ants (global)
- †Chimaeromyrma Dlussky, 1988
- Echinopla Smith, 1857
- Forelophilus Kutter, 1931
- Opisthopsis Dalla Torre, 1893
- Overbeckia Viehmeyer, 1916
- Phasmomyrmex Stitz, 1910
- Polyrhachis Smith, 1857 (Asian, African tropics)
- †Pseudocamponotus Carpenter, 1930
- Formicini Latreille, 1809
- Gesomyrmecini Ashmead, 1905
- Gigantiopini Ashmead, 1905
- Gigantiops Roger, 1863 (Neotropical)
- Lasiini Ashmead, 1905
- Melophorini Forel, 1912
- Melophorus Lubbock, 1883 (Australian)
- Myrmecorhynchini Wheeler, 1917
- Myrmoteratini Emery, 1895
- Myrmoteras Forel, 1893
- Notostigmatini Bolton, 2003
- Notostigma Emery, 1920
- Oecophyllini Emery, 1895
- Oecophylla Smith, 1860 – weaver ants
- Plagiolepidini Forel, 1886
- Agraulomyrmex Prins, 1983
- Aphomomyrmex Emery, 1899
- Brachymyrmex Mayr, 1868
- Bregmatomyrma Wheeler, 1929
- Euprenolepis Emery, 1906
- Lepisiota Santschi, 1926
- Myrmelachista Roger, 1863
- Nylanderia Emery, 1906
- Paraparatrechina Donisthorpe, 1947
- Paratrechina Motschoulsky, 1863 – crazy ants
- Petalomyrmex Snelling, 1979
- Plagiolepis Mayr, 1861
- Prenolepis Mayr, 1861
- Pseudolasius Emery, 1887
- Tapinolepis Emery, 1925
- Zatania LaPolla, Kallal & Brady, 2012
- incertae sedis
Honeypot ants, also called honey ants or repletes, are ants which are gorged with food by workers, to the point that their abdomens swell enormously, a condition called plerergate. Other ants then extract nourishment from them. They function as living larders. Honeypot ants belong to any of five genera, including Myrmecocystus. They were first documented in 1881 by Henry C. McCook.
Many insects, notably honey bees and some wasps, collect and store liquid for use at a later date. However, these insects store their food within their nest or in combs. Honey ants are unique in using their own bodies as living storage, but they have more function than just storing food. Some store liquids, body fat, and water from insect prey brought to them by worker ants. They can later serve as a food source for their fellow ants when food is otherwise scarce. When the liquid stored inside a honeypot ant is needed, the worker ants stroke the antennae of the honeypot ant, causing the honeypot ant to regurgitate the stored liquid. In certain places such as the Australian Outback, honeypot ants are eaten by aboriginal people as sweets and are considered a delicacy.
Some worker ants turn into honeypots right from their emergence from pupa stage. The young ants stay in the nest, and the worker ants who collect food feed them. As the workers feed them with more food than they need, the surplus nutrients get stored in their abdomens. As their abdomens expand, the ants lose their mobility.
These ants can live anywhere in the nest, but in the wild, they are found deep underground, literally imprisoned by their huge abdomens, swollen to the size of grapes. They are so valued in times of little food and water that occasionally raiders from other colonies, knowing of these living storehouses, will attempt to steal these ants because of their high nutritional value and water content. These ants are also known to change colors. Some common colors are green, red, orange, yellow, and blue.
Honeypot ants such as Camponotus inflatus are edible and form an occasional part of the diet of various Australian Aboriginal peoples. Papunya, in Australia's Northern Territory is named after a honey ant creation story, or Dreaming, which belongs to the people there, such as the Warlpiri. The name of Western Desert Art Movement, Papunya Tula, means "honey ant dreaming".
Myrmecocystus nests are found in a variety of arid or semi-arid environments. Some species live in extremely hot deserts, others reside in transitional habitats, and still other species can be found in woodlands where it is somewhat cool but still very dry for a large part of the year.
- Crane, Eva. The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting. 1999.