Overview

Comprehensive Description

SUBFAMILY FORMICINAE HNS LEPELETIER

Workers and queens with ventral apex of gaster (hypopygium) produced into a conical structure terminating in a circular acidopore fringed with hairs. Petiole a large scale or distinct node. Gaster with 5 distinct tergites visible in dorsal view. Males have semi-erect hairs on dorsum of alitrunk.

Keys to genera of Formicinae HNS

Workers and queens

1 Antennal insertions set at a distance behind posterior clypeal margin; metapleural gland orifice absent (Figs. 114,116)........... Camponotus HNS Mayr (p. 86)

Antennal insertions more or less contiguous with posterior clypeal margin. Metapleural gland orifice present................................................................... 2

2(1) Antennae 11 segmented (Fig. 158)............................... Plagiolepis HNS Mayr (p. 110)

Antennae 12 segmented ................................................................................ 3

3 (2) Eyes at or in front of midlength of sides of head; petiole inclined forward, overhung by first gaster tergite (Fig. 156) ........ Paratrechina Motschulsky HNS (p. 108)

Eyes behind midlength of sides of head; petiole nodal or as a vertical scale not overhung by gaster........................................................................................ 4

4 (3) Mandibles falcate, pointed (Fig. 267)......................... Polyergus HNS Latreille (p. 155)

Mandibles with broad masticatory border, coarsely dentate............................. 5

5 (4) Propodeal spiracle ellipsoid or slitlike set at a distance from posterior propodeal declivity. Funiculus segments 2-5 as long or longer than segments 6-10 (Figs. 159, 176).............................................................. Formica HNS Linne (p. 111)

Propodeal spiracle circular or broadly oval set close to posterior margin of propodeum. Funiculus segments 2-5 shorter than segments 6-10 (Figs. 124, 135) Lasius HNS Fabricius (p. 92)

Males

1 Antennal insertions set at a distance behind posterior clypeal margin (Fig. 119) Camponotus HNS Mayr (p. 86)

Antennal insertions set close to or at posterior clypeal margin.......................... 3

2 (1) Eyes set in front of or at midlength of sides ofhead. Gonopalpi absent Paratrechina Motschulsky HNS (p. 108) Eyes set behind of sides of head. Gonopalpi present........................................ 3

3 (2) Antennae 12 segmented ............................................. Plagiolepis HNS Mayr (p. 110)

Antennae 13 segmented ................................................................................ 4

4 (3) Mandibles very reduced, falcate. Antennal scapes shorter than first four follow- ing segments. Maxillary palps 4 segmented very reduced Polyergus HNS Latreille (p. 155)

Mandibles broadening to apex. Antennal scapes longer than first five following segments. Maxillary palps 5-6 segmented ....................................................... 5

5 (4) Propodeal spiracle narrowly elliptical, set well forward from the posterior propodeal margin (Fig. 192)........................................... Formica HNS Linne (p. 111)

Propodeal spiracle broadly oval or circular, set close to or at the posterior propodeal margin (Fig. 129).......................................... Lasius HNS Fabricius (p. 92)

  • Collingwood, C. A. (1979): The Formicidae (Hymenoptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark. Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 8, 1-174: 85-86, URL:http://antbase.org/ants/publications/6175/6175.pdf
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Plazi

Source: Plazi.org

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Characteristics

The Formicinae share the following characters with the Aneuretinae and Dolichoderinae (Bolton 2003):
  • Dorsal cuticular flap of the metapleural gland anteriorly reduced and posteromedially extended
  • Petiole with complete tergosternal fusion
  • Postpygidial glands absent
... and have the following synapomorphies (Bolton 2003):
  • Acidopore at apex of hypopygium
  • Glands producing formic acid
  • Sting nonfunctional (vestigial to absent)
  • Lancets disarticulated from sting
  • Pygidial gland absent

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 4 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:21849
Specimens with Sequences:19471
Specimens with Barcodes:17812
Species:1231
Species With Barcodes:992
Public Records:7732
Public Species:517
Public BINs:569
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Barcode data

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Wikipedia

Formicinae

Not to be confused with the extinct Formicidae subfamily Formiciinae.
Carpenter ant

The Formicinae are a subfamily within the Formicidae containing ants of moderate evolutionary development.

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. However, some members show considerable evolutionary advancement in behaviors such as slave-making and symbiosis with root-feeding hemipterans. 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.[citation needed]

All members of the Formicinae "have a one-segmented petiole in the form of a vertical scale".[1]

Identification[edit]

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 (the acidopore), usually fringed with hairs. 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.[2]

Tribes and genera[edit]

The tribal structure of Formicinae is not completely understood. This list follows the scheme at AntCat,[3] but other schemes and names are used.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Klotz, John H. (2008). "Formicinae". Urban ants of North America and Europe: identification, biology, and management. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-7473-6. 
  2. ^ "Subfamily: Formicinae". antweb.org. AntWeb. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Bolton, B. (2013), An online catalog of the ants of the world., AntCat, retrieved 22 September 2013 
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Honeypot ant

Honeypot ants at the Cincinnati Zoo, United States
Honeypot ants in Northern Territory, Australia

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.[1] 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.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Crane, Eva. The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting. 1999.
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