Myrmecophiles

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Myrmecophiles may occupy a variety of ecological niches within their host ant colony. Some consume waste materials in the nests, such as dead ants, dead larvae, or fungi growing in the nest. A few feed on external secretions of ants and some are fed directly by their host ants. Some myrmecophiles feed on the stored food supplies of ants, and a few are predatory on ant eggs, larvae, pupae or even adults. Others benefit the ants by providing a food source for them. Many myrmecophilous relationships are obligate, meaning one or the other participant requires the relationship for survival. Some associations are facultative, benefiting one or both participants but not being necessary to their survival. Many myrmecophiles await discovery and for many the nature of the relationship with their host is unknown.


Mountain Alcon Blue (Phengaris rebeli)

Contents

Orthoptera

Myrmecophilidae

There are five genera of ant-loving crickets in this family and around 100 species. World-wide in distribution, many species are found with different species and genera of ant hosts. Many ant hosts are still unknown. All species are relatively small, wingless and flattened. These crickets do not produce sound and lack wings. There are no tympanal organs on the front tibia.


Myrmecophilus

Myrmophilellus

Camponophilus

Eremogryllodes

Microbothriophylax

Diptera

Syrphidae

Afromicrodon
Hypselosyrphus

Found in Mexico, host ants are Pachycondyla

Microdon
Rhopalosyrphus

The larvae feed as scavengers in the nests of ants, Pseudomyrmecinae. There are three native species from the southern United States to northern Argentina.

Coleoptera

Carabidae

Paussinae (subfamily)

Paussinae have a predominantly pan-tropical distribution. They comprise about 800 species.

Paussini

Carabidomemnus

Eohomopterus

Arthropterus

Cerapterus

There are thirty-two species in this genus. All are assumed to be myrmecophiles.

Heteropaussina

Heteropaussus

There are 26 species in this myrmecophilous genus

Homopterina

Homopterus

A myrmecophilous genus of 12 species from South and Central America.

Subtribe Paussina

Ceratoderus Westwood 1841
Eopaussus Wasmann, 1926

The genera of the Paussidae of the Baltic amber. Zool Anz 68(1/2): 25-30. A single species, Eopaussus balticus from Baltic Amber.

Euplatyrhopalus Desneux, 1905

There are seven species in this myrmecophilous genus of Carabidae.

Lebioderus Westwood, 1838

The genus Lebioderus Westwood, 1938, belongs to the subtribe Platyrhopalina Jeannel, 1946, of the tribe Paussini Latreille, 1807, and is represented by nine species from Southeast Asia, including Indonesia [Jawa (Java), Sumatera (Sumatra), and Kalimantan], Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia), and the Philippines (Luzon) (Luna de Carvalho, 1987).

Leleupaussus Luna de Carvalho, 1962
Melanospilus Westwood, 1845
Paussoides

Paussoides mengei is found in Prussian amber.

Paussomorphus Raffray, 1885
Paussopsis

There are two extinct species in this genus from the Lower Oligocene, Florissant, Colorado.

Paussus Linnaeus, 1775

A most species-rich genus with about 350 described species, all are assumed to have an obligatory symbiosis with ants. In this symbiosis the beetles provide rewarding chemical secretions to their host ants and in return receive protection, a safe place for their vulnerable larvae to develop and a reliable source of protein-rich food: the ants, particularly the brood.

Platyrhopalopsis Desneux, 1905
Platyrhopalus Westwood, 1838

There are sixteen species in this genus.

Pterorhopalus Maruyama, 2011

Harpalinae (subfamily)

Heluonini (tribe)

Helluomorphoides

Pseudomorphinae (subfamily)

Cryptocephalomorpha

Pseudomorphini (tribe)

Guyanemorpha
Manumorpha
Notopseudomorpha
Pseudomorpha
Samiriamorpha
Tuxtlamorpha
Yasunimorpha

Endomychidae

Endomychidae includes a number of species closely associated with social insects, particularly ants and termites. Wasmann (1894) listed 11 endomychids associated with ants. Price and Young (2007) noted the close proximity of adults of Rhanidea unicolor to a colony of Lasius ants, although no direct association was inferred. Myrmecophily is the most common form of social insect inquilinism among endomychids; however, termitophilous and melittophilous species are also known. Endomychids have also been recovered from birds' nests.

Histeridae

Histeridae is worldwide in distribution with just under 4,300 known species, grouped into about 350 genera. It reaches its highest diversity in the tropics. Both subfamilies Chlamydopsinae, mainly distributed in southern Asia, Pacific, and Australia, and Haeteriinae contain myrmeco- or termitophilous species. It is accepted that myrmecophiles feed on the larvae of ants or other insects or even regurgitated food from the host ants (Lapeva-Gjonova, 2013).

Chlamysopsinae

A myrmecophilous subfamily

Chlamydopsis

Haeteriinae

A myrmecophilous subfamily

Haeteriini (tribe)

Alienister
Aritaerius

A myrmecophilous genus found in Arizona and Mexico. Host ants are unknown.

Eretmotus
Euxenister
Haeterius
Hippeutister

A myrmecophilous genus of six species found in North, Central, and South America. This genus is found in the nest of Solenopsis.

Mesynodites
Nymphister
Pinaxister

A myrmecophilous genus found with Pheidole ants.

Renclasea

This is a myrmecophilous genus of six species. Neivamyrmex is the probable host ant.

Satrapes

This Palearctic genus of five species is characterized by its elongate and subcylindrical shape, short, very wide tibia, and triangular labrum. They live in ant nests of several genera including Lasius, Aphaenogaster, Formica, and Tetramorium.

Sternocoelis

The genus Sternocoelis Lewis, 1888 is a small genus of myrmecophilous histerids with 27 described species distributed in the Mediterranean area with most species described from Morocco and Algeria.

Terapus

There are fourteen species in this myrmecophilous genus of New World Histeridae. The host ant is the genus Pheidole.

Ulkeus

There are six species in this myrmecophilous genus of Histeridae.

Nymphistrini (tribe)

Synoditulini (tribe)

Histerinae

Exosternini

Kaszabister

There are four species in this myrmecophilous genus that live in the nests of Solenopsis

Hydrophilidae

Sphaerocetum

Scarabaeidae

Cetoniinae

Cremastocheilini

Centrocheilus
Clinterocera

There are thirty-two species from China and adjacent regions; host ant Liometopum.

Cremastocheilus
Cyclidius
Euparia
Genuchinus
Lissomelas
Lomanoxia
Myrmecaphodius
Paracyclidius
Psilocnemis

Staphylinidae

Ecitophya

Aleocharinae

Doryloxenus
Drusilla
Goniusa
Tetradonia

Lomechusini

  • Currently there are 207 genera and 2205 species or subspecies.
Subtribe Lomechusina (all members are strict myrmecophiles with 3 genera and 40 species)
Lomechusa
Lomechusoides
Xenodusa

Subtribe Termitozyrina (11 genera and 16 species)

Subtribe Myrmedoniina (193 genera and 2149 species or subspecies)

Ecitonidia
Leptogenopapus
Myrmedonota
Myrmechusa
Pella
Zyras
Zyras funestus
Zyras humeralis
Zyras limbatus

Pselaphinae

Adranes
Claviger
Diartiger
Fustiger

There are three species in this myrmecophilous genus.

Pselaphus

Oxypodini

Dinarda

Leptanillophilini

Labidopullus

Scydmaeninae

There are one hundred-seventeen species in twenty genera associated with 45 species of ants in twenty-eight different genera.

Chevrolatiini

Chevrolatia

Clidicini

Papusus

Tenebrionidae

Alaudes

Araeoschizus

Bycrea

Cimiciopsis

Cossyphodes

Cossyphodinus

Cossyphodites

Paramellops

Curculionidae

Liometophilus

Lepidoptera

Lycaenidae

  • Lepidoptera / Butterflies
    • Phengaris (=Maculinea) (Lycaenidae) - Sielezniew et al. (2015) - Caterpillars develop on specific host plants (depending on species: Thymus or Origanum, Gentiana and Sanguisorba) and complete their development inside the nests of specific red ants (Myrmica sp.) as social parasites feeding on the hosts’ brood, or being fed by trophallaxis (Thomas, 1995).
      • ant hosts
        • Myrmica schencki host of Mountain Alcon Blue (Phengaris rebeli) - fairly well studied association, see M. schencki species page
        • Myrmica lonae host of Large Blue (Phengaris arion)

Mites

There are a large number of mite species that live on and with ants.

Caesarodispus

A genus of mites that use ants for transportation (phoresy).

Sortable table
Ant Species Mite Reference Remarks
Pheidole sp. alate Caesarodispus pheidolei Rahiminejad et al. 2015 described from mites found on alates in northern Iran
Tetramorium sp. alate Caesarodispus khaustovi Rahiminejad et al. 2015 described from mites found on alates in northern Iran
Tetramorium sp. alate Caesarodispus nodijensis Rahiminejad et al. 2015 described from mites found on alates in northern Iran

Oplitis

Dos Santos Lopes et al. (2015) - Most Oplitidae are myrmecophilous or termitophilous (Hunter and Farrier 1975, 1976), with adults as the most commonly encountered instar on the ants. Available data suggest that host specificity in Oplitidae is quite high, with individual oplitid species usually associated with only one, or a few closely related, host species (Hunter and Farrier 1975, 1976; Campbell et al. 2013). Oplitis is found worldwide, but current understanding of local faunas varies widely among regions. For example, while the European fauna is fairly well studied, the Neotropical fauna is still relatively poorly known (Sellnick 1926, 1954, 1963; Zirngiebl-Nicol and Hirschmann 1973a, 1973b; Hirschmann 1975, 1991; Hiramatsu and Hirschmann 1983; Kontschán and Starý 2012).

A survey of mites on ants in the genus Neoponera from the state of Bahia, northeastern Brazil, revealed a new Oplitis species of the paradoxa-Gruppe (Hirschmann 1991), interpreted here as Oplitis s.s., which will be described for the adult instars. This species is associated with three closely related Neoponera species in the Apicalis complex (Wild 2005).

Oplitis apicalis

Dos Santos Lopes et al. (2015) - Associated with: Neoponera verenae, Neoponera inversa and Neoponera apicalis.

A total of 291 Oplitis specimens were recovered attached to ants. Five of these specimens, recovered from three different nests of N. verenae, were identified as O. camponoti (Hirschmann 1991). Most likely this is accidental, as O. camponoti is normally associated with ants in the genus Camponotus (Hirschmann 1991).

Petalomium

Da Silva et al. (2017) - The mite genus Petalomium Cross 1965 (Acari: Heterostigmatina: Neopygmephoridae) includes about 40 described species, most of them associated with ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) (Khaustov 2015). The papers referring to Petalomium in Neotropical region are Mahunka (1981), describing P. affinitum from Santa Lucia, West Indies, and Berghoff et al. (2009), reporting 2 unidentified species from Republic of Panama. The aim of this study is to describe a new species associated with workers of the poneromorph ant Neoponera verenae from southern Bahia, Northeastern Brazil. For purposes of comparison, a closely related species, Petalomium gottrauxi Mahunka 1977 is redescribed based on the paratype and specimens from the Crimean Peninsula.

Sortable table
Ant Species Mite Reference Remarks
Camponotus aethiops Petalomium gottrauxi Da Silva et al.. 2017 Known from Crimea and Iran
Myrmica ruginodis Petalomium gottrauxi Da Silva et al.. 2017 Known from Switzerland and Hungary
Neoponera verenae Petalomium verenae Da Silva et al., 2017 Brazil. Phoretic females attached to hairs between the first and second pairs of coxae

References

  • Da Silva, R. A., A. A. Khaustov, J. M. S. Lopes, J. H. C. Delabie, and A. R. Oliveira. 2017. A new species of Petalomium from Brazil with a redescription of Petalomium gottrauxi Mahunka 1977 (Acari: Heterostigmatina: Neopygmephoridae). Systematic and Applied Acarology. 22:1800-1812. doi:10.11158/saa.22.11.2
  • Rahiminejad, V., H. Hajiqanbar, and A. A. Talebi. 2015. Three new species of the genus Caesarodispus (Acari: Microdispidae) associated with ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with a key to species. Entomological Science. 18:461-469. doi:10.1111/ens.12149
  • dos Santos Lopes, J. M., A. R. Oliveira, J. H. C. Delabie, and H. Klompen. 2015. A new species of myrmecophile mite of the genus Oplitis (Acari: Mesostigmata: Oplitidae) from Brazil. International Journal of Acarology. 41:676-680. doi:10.1080/01647954.2015.1096960

Collembola

Springtails

References

  • Donisthorpe, H. 1927d. The guests of British ants, their habits and life-histories. London: G. Routledge and Sons, xxii + 244 pp. [1927] 124251
  • Helava, J.V.T., Howden, H.F. & Ritchie, A.J. (1985) A review of the New World genera of the myrmecophilous and termitophilous subfamily Hetaeriinae (Coleoptera: Histeridae). Sociobiology, 10, 127–386.
  • O'Keefe, S.T. 2000. Ant-like stone beetles, ants, and their associations(Coleoptera:Scydmaenidae;Hymenoptera:Formicidae;Isoptera). Journal of the New York Entomological Society. 108(3, 4): 273-303.
  • Sielezniew, M., D. Patricelli, R. Rutkowski, M. Witek, S. Bonelli, and M. M. Bus. 2015. Population genetics of the endangered obligatorily myrmecophilous butterfly Phengaris (=Maculinea) arion in two areas of its European range. Insect Conservation and Diversity. 8:505-516. doi:10.1111/icad.12129
  • Wasmann, E. 1934. Die Ameisen, die Termiten und ihre Gäste. Regensburg: G. J. Manz, xviii + 148 pp.