| Anochetus mayri|
Anochetus mayri is widespread and regularly encountered in Central and South America. It is found mostly in forests under stones, in moss on rocks or logs, in rotten twigs on the forest floor, or in larger bodies of rotten wood. Colonies are small, often with only a few workers. The workers and queen feign death, and are difficult to see (Brown, 1978; Smith, 1936). It has been introduced into southern Florida where it is found in leaf litter and hollow twigs (Deyrup, 2002).
In the Neotropics there appears to be a confusing array of species similar to A. mayri, some of which may be geographic variants of that species (Brown 1978). There is some evidence that males may provide useful characters for separating the species in this complex (Brown 1978). We presume that the Florida population is derived from the West Indies. Florida specimens appear identical to specimens we have seen from Puerto Rico and St. John (the type locality is St. Thomas). In the U.S. there is no likelihood of confusing A. mayri with any other species, unless more Anochetus species are introduced.
Keys including this Species
This species has been introduced from the Neotropics into Florida where it is a rare species in leaf litter and hollow twigs in Dade county (first found in 1987), and also Palm Beach Co. (found in 2002) (Deyrup 2002). It seems likely that the species will expand its range, as Dade and Palm Beach counties have numerous nurseries for tropical and subtropical plants, as well as a population of mobile humans who take their landscape plants to new residences.
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
Nearctic Region: United States.
Neotropical Region: Barbados, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Greater Antilles, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Venezuela.
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This widely distributed species is found in leaf litter where it is a predator of smaller arthropods. Collection of this species in Florida was detailed by Deyrup (2002). Individuals were found to be common in deep litter at the base of pines and oaks in an environmental teaching facility in West Palm Beach Co. The ant was not a dominant species (in terms of abundance), and was neither aggressive nor strongly defensive.
Wheeler (1908): Common under dead leaves and stones in the shade of the cafetals and platanals. The colonies are small, comprising only about a dozen individuals. Usually one finds isolated workers or females moving about under cover of the dead leaves in search of prey. The females seem to be apterous, although the thorax is large and of the usual structure. Specimens with distinct wing-stumps are rare. The larvae are covered with pointed tubercles and resemble those of Odontomachus; the cocoons are rather broad, lemon yellow, with a black meconial spot at the anal pole.
From Jones et al (1999) - Head extracts of A. mayri have been shown to contain 2,5-dimethyl-3-isoamylpyrazine and 3-methyl-4-phenylpyrrole. These compounds most likely are mandibular gland products and have a pheromonal role.
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.
- mayri. Anochetus mayri Emery, 1884a: 378 (diagnosis in key) (w.) ANTILLES IS. Emery, 1890a: 65 (q.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1964b: 455 (l.). Senior synonym of laeviusculus: Brown, 1978c: 557 (see also p. 617).
- laeviusculus. Anochetus mayri subsp. laeviusculus Wheeler, W.M. 1911a: 22 (w.q.) JAMAICA. Junior synonym of mayri: Brown, 1978c: 557.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
This species was described in as much as it was included in a key. "Mandibole terminate con tre denti distinti, dei quali l' intermedio piu piccolo. Squama del picciuolo troncata superiormente o bidentata, metanoto con due denti. Squama con due denti." (Mandibles terminate with three distinct teeth, with the intermediate being smaller. The upper scale of the petiole truncated or bidentate, metanotum with two teeth. Scale with two teeth.)
- Brown, W. L., Jr. 1978c. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. Part VI. Ponerinae, tribe Ponerini, subtribe Odontomachiti. Section B. Genus Anochetus and bibliography. Stud. Entomol. 20: 549-638 (page 557, senior synonym of laeviusculus)
- Deyrup, M. 2002. The exotic ant Anochetus mayri in Florida (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Florida Entomol. 85:658-659.
- Deyrup, M., Davis, L. & Cover, S. 2000. Exotic ants in Florida. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 126, 293-325.
- Emery, C. 1884a. Materiali per lo studio della fauna Tunisina raccolti da G. e L. Doria. III. Rassegna delle formiche della Tunisia. [part]. Ann. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. 21[=(2)(1): 373-384 (page 378, worker described (diagnosis in key))
- Emery, C. 1890b. Voyage de M. E. Simon au Venezuela (Décembre 1887 - Avril 1888). Formicides. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. (6)(10): 55-76 (page 65, queen described)
- Jones, T. H., R. C. Flournoy, J. A. Torres, R. R. Snelling, T. F. Spande, and H. M. Garraffo. 1999. 3-Methyl-4-phenylpyrrole from the Ants Anochetus kempfi and Anochetus mayri. Journal of Natural Products. 62:1343-1345. DOI:10.1021/np990245t
- Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1964b. The ant larvae of the subfamily Ponerinae: supplement. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 57: 443-462 (page 455, larva described)
- Wheeler, W. M. 1908a. The ants of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 24: 117-158.