Aenictus aitkenii

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Aenictus aitkenii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Aenictus
Species: A. aitkenii
Binomial name
Aenictus aitkenii
Forel, 1901

Aenictus aitkenii casent0905981 p 1 high.jpg

Aenictus aitkenii casent0905981 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Synonyms

This species is known from India and Sri Lanka.

Identification

A member of the pachycerus group. This species is similar to A. aratus (with which it has been treated as a junior synonym) and A. nesiotis but differs in having a broader head (cephalic index > 87 versus CI < 88 in A. nesiotis), and broader and more bulbous petiole and postpetiole (both are narrower in A. aratus and A. nesiotis). The scape is also relatively longer than in the others (scape index > 115 versus < 115). It is similar to A. levior in the shape of the head but differs in having longer scapes (Shattuck, 2008).

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Oriental Region: India (type locality), Sri Lanka.

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Little is known about the biology of Aenictus aitkenii. The genus is comprised of species that live an army ant lifestyle. Aenictus typically prey on other ants, from other genera, or other insects such as wasps or termites. There are reports of Aenictus preying on other insects as well and even have been observed collecting honeydew from homopterans (Santschi, 1933; Gotwald, 1995) but this appears, at least from available evidence, to be uncommon. Foraging raids can occur day or night across the ground surface. Occasionally raids are arboreal. During a raid numerous workers attack a single nest or small area, with several workers coordinating their efforts to carry large prey items back to the nest or bivouac. Aenictus have a nomadic life style, alternating between a migratory phase in which nests are temporary bivouacs in sheltered places above the ground and a stationary phase where semi-permanent underground nests are formed. During the nomadic phase bivouacs move regularly, sometimes more than once a day when larvae require large amounts of food. Individual nests usually contain up to several thousand workers, although nest fragments containing only a few hundred workers are often encountered. Queens are highly specialised and look less like workers than in most ant species. They have greatly enlarged gasters (dichthadiform) and remain flightless throughout their life. New colonies are formed by the division of existing colonies (fission) rather than by individual queens starting colonies on their own.

Castes

Known only from the worker caste.

Nomenclature

The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • aitkenii. Aenictus aitkenii Forel, 1901a: 475 (w.) INDIA. Junior synonym of aratus: Wilson, 1964a: 446. Revived from synonymy and senior synonym of asiatica: Shattuck, 2008c: 16.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.

Description

Forel 1901. Page 475.

Type Material

  • asiatica. Aenictus aratus var. asiatica Forel, 1911h: 453 (w.) SRI LANKA. Junior synonym of aratus: Wilson, 1964a: 446; of aitkenii: Shattuck, 2008c: 16.
  • Aenictus aitkenii: Worker syntypes from Kanara, Thana and Travancore, India.
  • Aenictus aratus var. asiatica: Worker syntype from Sri Lanka.

References