Melissotarsus insularis

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Melissotarsus insularis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Melissotarsus
Species: M. insularis
Binomial name
Melissotarsus insularis
Santschi, 1911

Melissotarsus insularis casent0101093 profile 1.jpg

Melissotarsus insularis casent0101094 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Identification

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Comoros.
Malagasy Region: Madagascar (type locality), Mayotte.

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Garcia, Wiesel and Fischer (2013) - The four species of this Afrotropical and Malagasy genus are rarely encountered. The Afrotropical species were revised by Bolton (1982) who also provided a good species identification key. These ants are special in several ways. They build their nests in healthy wood by tunnelling through the living tissue beneath the surface (Bolton, 1982; Fisher & Robertson, 1999; Belshaw & Bolton, 1994) and are rarely found outside of their nests, which could be the main reason for their relative scarcity in museum collections (Bolton, 1982). They live in close association with symbiotic coccids that are kept inside the nest. Adults are able to produce silk, which is used to close exit holes or to seal cracks (Fisher & Robertson, 1999).

Bolton (1982) - This small genus, of which only four uncommon species are presently recognized, is restricted to the Malagasy region (1 species) where it is rare, and the Afrotropical region (3 species) where it is, however, very widespread. The species nest in the healthy wood of living trees, apparently tunnelling their own galleries below the surface. For this reason most collections of Melissotarsus are made more by luck than by intent as their presence in the wood is usually not detectable on the surface. Delage-Darchen (1972) has shown that the method of walking in these ants is very strange; they progress on their front and hind legs with the middle pair projecting upwards, and presumably in contact with the gallery roof. She also noted the presence of coccids inside the galleries, also discussed by Ben-Dov (1978). It seems probable that coccid secretions form a major, if not the main, item in the diet of Melissotarsus species.

Castes

Nomenclature

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

  • insularis. Melissotarsus insularis Santschi, 1911e: 122, fig. 2 (w.m.) MADAGASCAR.

Description

References

  • Ben-Dov, Y. 2010. On new taxa and some described armoured scale insects (Hemiptera: Diaspididae) living in the galleries of the ant Melissotarsus insularis Santschi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Madagascar. Zootaxa 2368:49–58 (Melissoaspis fisheri n. sp. and Melissoaspis reticulata n. sp.)
  • Santschi, F. 1911e. Nouvelles fourmis de Madagascar. Rev. Suisse Zool. 19: 117-134 (page 122, fig. 2 worker, male described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922k. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. IX. A synonymic list of the ants of the Malagasy region. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 4 45: 1005-1055 (see also)