Aphaenogaster ashmeadi

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Aphaenogaster ashmeadi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Stenammini
Genus: Aphaenogaster
Species: A. ashmeadi
Binomial name
Aphaenogaster ashmeadi
(Emery, 1895)

Aphaenogaster ashmeadi casent0103563 profile 1.jpg

Aphaenogaster ashmeadi casent0103563 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Synonyms

This species nests in sandy soil, with the nest entrance normally camouflaged or located under objects such as stones or pieces of wood.

Identification

The scape of the worker and female is widened at the base, but the widened region is very short, about 1/6 of the total length of the scape. The clypeus has a number of poorly defined carinae, and entire dorsum of the head is covered with a granular-rugose sculpturing. The entire mesosoma is sculptured, mostly with punctures, and is only weakly shining. The propodeal spines are relatively short, their length is less than that of the posterior face of the propodeum.

Aphaenogaster ashmeadi is similar to Aphaenogaster treatae, but has a smaller lobe at the base of the scape. The lobe is one-fifth the length of the scape (DeMarco, 2015).

Florida

Deyrup (2016) - This species resembles Aphaenogaster treatae; both species are large (often 7-8 mm), with a conspicuous expanded lobe (of unknown function, but possibly serving to protect the amennal base) at the base of the antennal scape. In ashmeadi, this lobe is broad in a dorsal view and thin and convex in a side view; in treatae it is thickened, such that there is a distinct lateral face in lateral view. In Peninsular Florida, ashmeadi is blackish brown, while treatae is reddish brown, but in the western Panhandle, both are reddish brown.

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Florida

Deyrup (2016) - North Carolina south into Florida, west into Missouri and Texas (Smith 1979). In Florida, ashmeadi is known from Highlands County northward and west through the Panhandle. There are some large gaps in this known distribution, but ashmeadi probably occurs in most of the upland natural habitats in central and north Florida. Despite its large size, ashmeadi is often difficult to find, and workers have a tendency to freeze or hide under dead leaves when alarmed.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Found in sand pine, oak scrub, live oak and laurel oak habitats. It can tolerate disturbed conditions.

Floirda

Deyrup (2016) - The information in this paragraph is summarized from Carroll (1975). Nests are in soil in a variety of habitats, ranging from mesic hammocks to open xeric forest, and from undisturbed forest to shaded lawns. Nests usually have one or two entrances (up to six), which may be marked with a short turret of plant debris and insect remains. There are usually five to seven chambers, including a superficial chamber with pupae and prepupae, a refuse chamber, and a deeper chamber, often approximately 25 cm below the surface, containing the queen. Mature colonies (those producing alates) usually contain approximately 100 to 250 workers. The largest colony had 423 workers. Alates are in the nest by mid-April, and flights are in June and July. Workers forage both day and night in warm weather, usually in shaded or semishaded habitats. Almost all foraging is on the surface of leaf litter. The diet of ashmeadi is primarily live and dead arthropods. Foragers are able to subdue caterpillars, small spiders, Diptera, Orthoptera, and smaller ants. Certain mushrooms are cut up and brought back to the nest, the most frequently collected belonging to the genera Russula and Marasmiellus.

Van Pelt (1958), who observed ashmeadi in Putnam County, Florida, found it in well-drained habitats, especially in xeric forests and scrubby flatwoods, and more rarely in sandhills, mesic forests, and bayheads. One nest included 333 workers, as well as 250 pupae, eggs, and a queen. Workers did not forage during winter. In North Carolina, Carter (1962) found ashmeadi restricted to the Coastal Plain, where it usually occurred in open forests on sandy soil. On one occasion, I found the pupal skins of four mydas flies protruding from the ground adjacent to the nest hole of ashmeadi in low flatwoods, suggesting that the flies might have been inquilines as larvae.

Castes

Worker

Queen

Male

Nomenclature

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

  • ashmeadi. Stenamma (Aphaenogaster) treatae var. ashmeadi Emery, 1895c: 302 (w.) U.S.A.
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster: Wheeler, W.M. 1913c: 114.
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster (Attomyrma): Emery, 1921f: 60.
    • Raised to species and senior synonym of harnedi: Creighton, 1950a: 142.
  • harnedi. Aphaenogaster treatae subsp. harnedi Wheeler, W.M. 1919b: 50 (w.) U.S.A.
    • Junior synonym of ashmeadi: Creighton, 1950a: 142.

Description

References