Crematogaster cerasi

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Crematogaster cerasi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Crematogaster
Species: C. cerasi
Binomial name
Crematogaster cerasi
(Fitch, 1855)

Crematogaster cerasi casent0103776 profile 1.jpg

Crematogaster cerasi casent0103776 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Synonyms

In Florida, specimens have been taken only in xeric upland habitats while northward, collections exist from mesic woodlands and margins of cultivated fields. Nests are generally in or under fallen logs or stumps, not in arboreal conditions. (Johnson 1988)

Photo Gallery

  • Foraging worker. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Foraging worker. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Territorial dispute between two colonies of Crematogaster cerasi near Labadie, Missouri. Photo by James Trager.

Identification

Morgan & Mackay (2017) - The suite of characters that separate Crematogaster cerasi from other closely related species of Crematogaster is the combination of 1-5 long flexuous, erect hairs on each pronotal shoulder and shallow to robust scabrous-lineolate sculpturing on the dorsum of the mesosoma. Similar species such as Crematogaster lineolata and Crematogaster coarctata differ in one or more of these characters. Crematogaster lineolata has many short erect hairs on the pronotum, no anterior sternopetiolar process (or it is poorly developed); however, the sculpturing is similar. Crematogaster coarctata has similar pilosity on the pronotal shoulder and a variable anterior sternopetiolar process; however, the sculpturing of C. coarctata is more defined than in C. cerasi. Crematogaster cerasi has spines that are variable within nest series and can be reduced as in Crematogaster emeryana, to typically developed spines such as those of C. lineolata, it can be separated from the other two as in profile, the top margin of the spines of C. cerasi is sinuate, not straight as in C. emeryana and C. lineolata.

It is can be difficult to separate C. cerasi from Crematogaster vermiculata. Most specimens of C. cerasi have the pronotum mostly rugose, with some striae confined to the sides. The dorsum of the pronotum of all specimens of C. vermiculata has at least wavy striae across the top of the pronotum, but is usually with strong vermiculae.

Johnson 1988 - Fine longitudinal ridges or striations on thoracic dorsum usually short and discontinuous, the intervening cuticle rough, granulate. Some specimens have well-expressed striations with smooth intervening cuticle; others have reduced striations and conspicuously granulose cuticle. Pubescence of head, thorax and gaster appressed; one to three long erect hairs on each humeral shoulder of pronotum. Rarely 1 to 3 short erect hairs about the anterior margin of the propodeum and a like number occasionally intermixed with appressed pubescence of first segment of gaster. Propodeal spines long, SL/DB > 1.0, and spines typically diverge posteriorly relative to longitudinal body axis. Some specimens show less divergence of the spines and have evenly tapered spines rather than undulating margins. These ants are largely bicolored; however, some entirely blackish specimens appear in the Florida collections.

Crematogaster browni

Crematogaster browni is currently considered to be a junior synonym of this species (Morgan & Mackay, 2017) (see Taxonomic Notes). It has been separated as follows:

Buren (1968) - Although the epinotal spines are very short and often incurved in this species, as in Crematogaster ashmeadi, there seems little possibility that there could be more than a remote relationship. C. ashmeadi is strictly arboreal, has noticeably short legs, and the tarsal proportions are such that the third and fourth joints of the mid and hind tarsus are each only slightly shorter than the preceding joint. The legs in this new species are of normal length and the tarsal proportions are more differentiated as in most North American species. The females are quite different in numerous characteristics. Since there is least a 500 to 700 mi. gap between the ranges with very different ecological situations, there should be no difficulty. About the only species occurring sympatrically with which browni is likely to be confused is Crematogaster emeryana Creighton, being very similar in size and general appearance and in nesting site preferences. However, the incurved spines, narrow petiole, and long flexuous hairs which have a different arrangement, should allow an easy separation.

This is a rarely collected species that can be recognized by the tiny propodeal spines and the presence of a few erect hairs on the pronotum and none on the mesonotum. The petiole is only slighter wider (maximum width) than the postpetiole. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Johnson 1988 - Occurs in Quebec, Canada, and most of the northcentral and northeastern U. S. It is an uncommon species in the South; however, records exist for North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida southward to Polk, Hernando and Dade Counties.

Morgan & Mackay (2017) - Southeastern Canada (Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec), throughout the United States, including Wyoming (Lavigne and Tepedino, 1976), Maine (Ouellette and Francoeur, 2012), South Carolina (Davies 2009), Arkansas (General and Thompson, 2008, 2009; MacGown et al., 2011), Louisiana (Parys et al., 2013), Georgia (Ipser et al., 2004) and Florida (Deyrup, 2017), southwest into the states of Baja California, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Sonora and Tamaulipas, México (Vázquez-Bolaños, 2011; Coronado-Blanco et al., 2013).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada, United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico.

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Habitat

Found in a variety of habitats. In New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002): Chihuahuan Desert along mountain slopes, grasslands, pinyon-juniper, oak, sagebrush, ponderosa pine, fir forests, and riparian habitats, up to 2350 meters elevation.

Biology

Morgan & Mackay (2017) - Crematogaster cerasi is a very common cosmopolitan species with an extensive range. Mackay and Mackay (unpublished) found nests at sea level and up into the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona. The nesting habits are also varied. We found nests in the soil, sometimes with mounds, under stones, in and under sage brushes in the west and in hardwood hummocks in the southeast, in twigs, hollow stems, in rotten stumps including a standing dead Celtis stump at the soil surface level, and in/under logs (see also Carroll, 2011). Nests even occur in hickory nuts (Talbot, 1957). Large nests may have several hundred workers and can be aggressive. Brood were found in nests from March to September, sexuals in March, July, August and September; founding queens were found in May in southern New Mexico. They have been found near Camponotus nearcticus nests.

Crematogaster cerasi is a generalist in terms of feeding (Kjar, 2009). Foragers are active as early as February, foraging on the soil surface, and on cholla, and are attracted to peanut butter baits (Mackay and Mackay, unpublished). They readily come to baits of sausage or Keebler Pecan Sandies cookies. In more arid landscapes C. cerasi has also been found foraging on Opuntia imbricata. Foragers steal nectar from Catalpa speciose (Stephenson, 1981) and disperse diaspores (Beattie and Culver, 1981). The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta has little effect on them (King and Tschinkel, 2013). Workers have been tested in mazes (Jander, 1990).

Several guests are found in nests, including Myrmecophila crickets, various beetles and pseudoscorpions. They carry phoretic mites (Campbell et al., 2013) and are attacked by the parasitic fly Pseudacteon onyx (Steyskal, 1944).

Crematogaster cerasi is found in a wide variety of habitats in the US (Lubertazzi and Tschinkel, 2003) and several different habitats in México (Alatorre-Bracamontes and Vázquez-Bolaños, 2010). They are found in desert shrubland, desert riparian vegetation, acacia, mesquite woodlands, chaparral, black grama grassland, clearing next to small creek, oaks and grasses, oak woodland, emory oak, pine alligator bark juniper, pinyon/juniper, cedar/pine forest, Chihuahuan pine, ponderosa pine/gamble oak, mixed hardwood, riparian, mixed hardwood, riparian sycamore/willow (Mackay and Mackay, unpublished), mixed pine hardwood forest, long leaf pine (Dash, 2004). Nests are more common in hardwood forest than in pine forest (Martelli et al., 2004). They are found in areas with introduced plants (Kjar and Barrows, 2004) and in disturbed habitats (Dash, 2004). They adapt to urban ecosystems (Guénard et al., 2014), where they are common (Carroll, 2011), but were unable to recover after house construction in urban area of Indiana (Buczkowski and Richmond, 2012), and in general do not do well in disturbed areas (Menke, et al., 2011).

Nests are found in soils ranging from brown clay, sand (red, grey, light brown and dark brown), orange rocky loam, light brown rocky loam, rocky soil (red, light brown), sandy gravel and light brown gravel.

Crematogaster cerasi may be an agricultural pest, because they tend aphids (Bradshaw et al., 2010). They are a house pest (Smith, 1965).

Deyrup (2017) includes details on the biology and distribution of this species as well as comparisons with other species occurring in Florida.

Crematogaster browni

Buren (1968) - My finding of browni on the tops of the Franklin Mts. in El Paso is worthy of note as it shows that this species is adaptable to a rather wide range of conditions. These mountains are treeless, and are entirely rocky and desert-like. C. browni was the only Crematogaster that I was able to find on these mountains above 5,500 to 6,000 ft. On the lower slopes at approximately 3,500 to 5,000 ft., the desert species, Crematogaster depilis Wheeler and Crematogaster larreae occur. This contrasts strongly with the conditions in the Davis Mts. of Texas, which at over 5,500 ft. elevations are covered by open forests of pinyon pine, juniper, and oak, and a good stand of grasses. Three ground inhabiting species occur there, Crematogaster emeryana, browni, and Crematogaster colei, with probably emeryana being predominant. From the limited information available it would seem that while emeryana and browni occur together in some of the mountains of southwestern U.S., emeryana ranges considerably further northward than browni, while browni may be the only species able to colonize the tops of the barren mountains which occur throughout the Chihuahuan desert, and thus could be expected to have a considerably more extensive range in Mexico.

Regional Notes

New Mexico

Mackay and Mackay (2002) - Commonly nests under stones, or under a log (1 nest); brood and reproductives were found in nests from May to August. This is one of the most common Crematogaster spp. in mesic and xeric sites in New Mexico. Workers are sometimes aggressive when the nest is disturbed. Foragers are often found on vegetation, especially cholla (Opuntia spp.). This species may be polygynous, as multiple, dealate females are often encountered in nests. Two colonies were nesting with Camponotus festinatus.

Castes

Worker

Queen

Male

Nomenclature

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

  • cerasi. Myrmica cerasi Fitch, 1855: 835 (w.) U.S.A.
    • Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1973a: 28 (l.).
    • Combination in Crematogaster: Roger, 1863b: 37.
    • Combination in C. (Acrocoelia): Emery, 1922e: 141.
    • Combination in C. (Crematogaster): Buren, 1968b: 92.
    • Junior synonym of lineolata: Dalla Torre, 1893: 83; Creighton, 1950a: 213.
    • Revived from synonymy as subspecies of lineolata: Smith, M.R. 1951a: 809.
    • Revived status as species, senior synonym of kennedyi and material of the unavailable name punctinodis referred here: Buren, in Smith, M.R. 1958c: 125. See also: Buren, 1968b: 92; Johnson, C. 1988: 318.
    • Senior synonym of browni: Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 91.
  • kennedyi. Crematogaster (Acrocoelia) kennedyi Wheeler, W.M. 1930e: 58 (q.m.) U.S.A.
    • Junior synonym of cerasi: Buren, in Smith, M.R. 1958c: 126.
  • browni. Crematogaster (Crematogaster) browni Buren, 1968b: 100 (w.q.) U.S.A.
    • Junior synonym of cerasi: Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 91.

Type Material

Crematogaster cerasi

Morgan & Mackay (2017) - There is no type material of C. cerasi available that we are aware of, although Creighton (1950) mentions specimens are in the USNM; therefore, we used a specimen from Lexington, Massachusetts determined by Buren (MCZC), that is consistent with the descriptions by Fitch (1855) and comments by Emery (1895), Creighton (1950) and Buren (1968) to define the species.

Crematogaster browni

Several series are known from Garden Canyon, Huachuca Mts., Ariz.- Wm. S. Creighton, collector; I have marked as the holotype a worker from one of these series and this locality therefore becomes the type locality. I have also marked as paratypes numerous examples from Canelo Pass, Santa Cruz Co., Ariz.- Wm. S. Creighton; Brown Canyon, Baboquiveri Mts.- Creighton; Sierra de San Jose, S. of Naco, Sonora, Mex. - Creighton; Nogales Ranch, Sierra de en Medio, Chihuahua, Mex.- Creighton; several series from the Franklin Mts., El Paso, Tex.- W. F. Buren; Silver City, N. Mex.- Buren; several series from near McDonald Observatory, Davis Mts., Tex.- Buren. The late Dr. L. F. Byars found this species on a number of occasions. His records, which I have also marked as paratypes, are from Montezuma Pass and Sunnyside Road Fork, both in the Huachuca Mts., Ariz.; Calabasas Ridge, Tumacacori Mts., Ariz.; and Sycamore Canyon, near Ruby, Ariz. Dr. Wm. M. Wheeler was the first myrmecologist to capture this species. His records are from the Huachuca Mts., Ariz. in 1910 and from Oracle, Ariz. in 1919 and have been marked as paratypes.

The holotype and representative paratypes are to be deposited in the National Museum. Other para types are to be sent to the Museum of Comparative Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, California Academy of Natural Sciences, to Dr. Creighton's private collection, and to the Cornell University collection. I will retain a few paratypes from each of the series.

Taxonomic Notes

Morgan & Mackay (2017) - We obtained paratype specimens of Crematogaster browni (Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History) and made comparisons with many specimens of C. cerasi. When using Buren’s key, we found that the typical C. cerasi keys to C. browni in the key to the west species and the reverse true of C. browni keying to C. cerasi in the key to the east species. We have found extensive polymorphism in overall size and sternopetiolar process development in large single nest series of C. cerasi. Some specimens in these large series are small and shallowly sculptured as in C. browni. Thus, we consider C. browni Buren to a junior synonym of C. cerasi Fitch.

Description

References

  • Buren, W. F. 1968b. A review of the species of Crematogaster, sensu stricto, in North America (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Part II. Descriptions of new species. J. Ga. Entomol. Soc. 3: 91-121 (page 92, Combination in C. (Crematogaster))
  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 213, Junior synonym of lineolata)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 83, Junior synonym of lineolata)
  • Emery, C. 1895d. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der nordamerikanischen Ameisenfauna. (Schluss). Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 257-360 (page 282, Revived from synonymy as variety\subspecies of lineolata)
  • Emery, C. 1922c. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [part]. Genera Insectorum 174B: 95-206 (page 141, Combination in C. (Acrocoelia))
  • Fitch, A. 1855 [1854]. Report [upon the noxious and other insects of the State of New-York]. Trans. N. Y. State Agric. Soc. 14: 705-880 (page 835, worker described)
  • Johnson, C. 1988. Species identification in the eastern Crematogaster (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Entomol. Sci. 23:314-332. (page 318, see also)
  • Mackay, W.P. & Mackay, E.E. 2002. The Ants of New Mexico: 400 pp. Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, N.Y.
  • Morgan, C.E., Mackay, W.P. 2017. The North American Acrobat Ants of the hyperdiverse genus Crematogaster (Hymneoptera: Formicidae). Lambert Academic Publishing (PDF version, 532 pp.)
  • Roger, J. 1863b. Verzeichniss der Formiciden-Gattungen und Arten. Berl. Entomol. Z. 7(B Beilage: 1-65 (page 37, Combination in Crematogaster)
  • Smith, M. R. 1951c. Family Formicidae. Pp. 778-875 in: Muesebeck, C. F., Krombein, K. V., Townes, H. K. (eds.) Hymenoptera of America north of Mexico. Synoptic catalogue. U. S. Dep. Agric. Agric. Monogr. 2:1-1420. (page 809, Revived from synonymy as variety\subspecies of lineolata)
  • Smith, M. R. 1958c. Family Formicidae. Pp. 108-162 in: Krombein, K. V. (ed.) Hymenoptera of America north of Mexico. Synoptic catalogue. First supplement. U. S. Dep. Agric. Agric. Monogr. 2(suppl. 1):1-305. (page 125, Revived status as species, senior synonym of kennedyi, and material of the unavailable name punctinodis referred here.)
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1973a. The ant larvae of six tribes: second supplement (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). J. Ga. Entomol. Soc. 8: 27-39 (page 28, larva described)