Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
Leptothorax nitens var. Heathii HNS Wheeler 1903d: 245. Twelve syntype workers, Pacific Grove , California [ MCZC ] [Examined] Syn. nov. [Incorrectly synonymized under nitens HNS by Creighton 1950a: 265.]
Leptothorax nitens subsp. occidentalis Wheeler HNS 1903d: 245. Two syntype workers, Friday Harbor , Washington [ MCZC ] [Examined] Syn. nov. [Incorrectly synonymized under nitens HNS by Creighton1950a: 265.]
Comments. Temnothorax andrei HNS is a common species at low and medium elevations (0- 1800 m) in California and adjacent western states. The workers are yellow to yellowbrown, lightly sculptured, and with relatively short, blunt-tipped pilosity. The head is predominantly longitudinally reticulate/carinulate with weakly shining interspaces, and with a smooth, shiny median strip of variable extent. A characteristic feature is the presence of a small, isolated shiny patch of cuticle on the head, posteromesad of the compound eye, and surrounded by sculpture. The mesosoma is reticulate-foveolate and subopaque. The propodeal spines are poorly developed and generally reduced to blunt triangular teeth. In profile the petiolar node, while slender, has an abruptly rounded (not cuneate) summit (Fig. 7). During a recent visit to MCSN (Genoa) Alex Wild matched the holotype worker of T. andrei HNS to material from California that I had identified as this species. The unique type of T. ocellatus HNS falls easily within the range of variation encompassed by T. andrei HNS . The original description of T. ocellatus HNS misrepresents some features of its morphology. The mesosoma is not as strongly arched as depicted and, although the eyes are small, they are not atypically so for T. andrei HNS .
In coastal regions of central and northern California populations of T. andrei HNS tend to produce workers that are darker in color, with a shinier head and better developed propodeal spines. While some samples appear strikingly different from the more typical light-colored T. andrei HNS , it is difficult to draw a sharp boundary between the coastal and inland populations because of extensive intra- and interpopulation variation. The type series of T. nitens heathii HNS (from Pacific Grove) exemplifies this, with some workers having predominantly smooth and shiny heads and others showing varying amounts of fine reticulate /carinulate sculpture. The syntype workers of T. nitens occidentalis HNS (from coastal Washington state) also have variably shiny heads. For both heathii HNS and occidentalis HNS , however, the rounded (non-cuneate) summit of the worker petiole clearly identifies them as being related to T. andrei HNS rather than T. nitens HNS . A failure by previous investigators to examine critically the types of heathii HNS or occidentalis HNS led to their being erroneously associated with T. nitens HNS .