Key to Azteca aurita group queens

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This key to queens is based on: Guerrero, R. J., J. H. C. Delabie & A. Dejean. 2010. Taxonomic contribution to the aurita group of the ant genus Azteca (Formicidae: Dolichoderinae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research. 19(1):51-65. PDF.

There is a Key to Azteca aurita group workers but worker polymorphism and similarities of worker characteristics can make workers of Azteca difficult to use for species determinations. Queens of Azteca generally exhibit more pronounced morphological differences and are often much more useful than workers for species identification. Details of the nests collections are made from, e.g., location, structure, etc. can also be useful. Nesting details can be found on most of the species pages for the species in the aurita group.

Guerreo et al. (2010) stated the following about the aurita group - Longino (2007) proposed four features that distinguish the species in the aurita group from other species of ants of the genus Azteca, but one of those, the proportion HLB/HLA > 1.04, is not a consistent and stable feature within some of the females studied here (e.g., A. linamariae paratype). This trait, therefore, should not continue to be used as diagnostic tool for the aurita group while all the other traits are strongly consistent: the palpal formula is 4,3; the middle and hind tibia lack an apical spur; the anteromedial border of the clypeus is strongly convex and extends well beyond the anterolateral clypeal lobes. These traits can, however, still be of great taxonomic value for separating the aurita group from other groups of species in the genus Azteca.

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Azteca

1

  • Orange head and orange or light brown body; long scape, SI > 70 . . . . . 2

2

return to couplet #1

  • Erect pilosity absent on dorsum of the head, lateral margins of the mesosoma, petiole, and gaster . . . . . 3
  • Short, erect pilosity present on the dorsum of the head and mesosoma, petiole, and gaster . . . . . 6

3

return to couplet #2

  • Very pronounced vertex lobes appearing as elongate, horn-like projections; a seemingly wide, U-shaped occipital margin . . . . . Azteca diabolica
Azteca diabolica paratype queen.jpg
  • Angulate vertex lobes never forming horn-like projections . . . . . 4

4

return to couplet #3

Azteca linamariae holtype queen.jpg

5

return to couplet #4

  • Sides of the head flat and sub-parallel, only weakly diverging posteriorly; eyes more or less at mid-length of the head, HW < 1.30 . . . . . Azteca aurita
Azteca aurita queen.jpg
  • Sides of the head flat and not sub-parallel, strongly diverging posteriorly; eyes anterior to the mid-length of the head, HW > 1.30 . . . . . Azteca laurae
Azteca laurae holotype queen.jpg

6

return to couplet #2

  • Dense, short, erect pilosity on scape and tibiae; head relatively narrow (CI < 97) . . . . . Azteca pilosula
Azteca pilosula casent0909596 h 1 high.jpg
Azteca pilosula casent0909596 p 1 high.jpg
  • Scape and tibiae lacking erect pilosity; head relatively broad (CI > 97) . . . . . Azteca lallemandi

7

return to couplet #1

  • Gastral dorsum lacking erect setae; HLA > 1.35 . . . . . 8
  • Gastral dorsum with erect setae; HLA < 1.35 . . . . . 9

8

return to couplet #7

  • Head, scapes, mesosoma, legs and petiole with erect hairs; scapes relatively long, SL > 0.90 . . . . . Azteca schimperi
  • Head, scapes, mesosoma, legs and petiole devoid of any erect hairs; scapes relatively short, SL < 0.90 . . . . . Azteca andreae
Azteca andreae casent0179545 h 1 high.jpg
Azteca andreae casent0179545 p 1 high.jpg

9

return to couplet #7

Azteca nanogyna jtlc000004288 p 1 high.jpg