Aphaenogaster mariae

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Aphaenogaster mariae
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Aphaenogaster
Species: A. mariae
Binomial name
Aphaenogaster mariae
Forel, 1886

Aphaenogaster mariae casent0103599 profile 1.jpg

Aphaenogaster mariae casent0103599 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

This species is arboreal, and has only been collected on trunks of live trees at bait. One nest was observed in a treehole. (DeMarco, 2015)


Aphaenogaster mariae has the diagnostic character of a starburst of striae (Ellison, et al. 2012) at the base of the gaster. They also have very rugose sculpturing on the mesosoma. (DeMarco, 2015)


Deyrup (2016) - This rare species has a conspicuous ventral protuberance on the postpetiole and sculpture of coarse, irregular ridges on the mesopleuron and both features are also found in Aphaenogaster tennesseensis. Aphaenogaster mariae is distinguished from tennesseensis and other species of Aphaenogaster by the fine ridges that radiate from the base of the first gastral tergite and cover about a quarter of the tergite.

Keys including this Species



Deyrup (2016) - New York south into Florida, west into Iowa and Kansas (Smith 1979). I have seen only two specimens from Florida, one from Liberty County and the other from Orange County. Both were taken in traps. The type specimen is also from Florida, with the locality unknown.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


The fine ridges that radiate from the base of the first gastral tergite and cover about a quarter of the tergite are also found in other species of myrmicines, and are regularly present in the dacetines, but their significance is unknown. One possibility is that these areas serve as channels and evaporative areas for chemical repellents (Deyrup, 2016).


Deyrup (2016) - Little is known about the biology of this rare species. Wheeler (1910a) suggested that mariae might be a temporary nest parasite of some other Aphaenogaster, such as Aphaenogaster fulva. He based this on the small size and long propodeal spines of the queen, both characteristics of the apparently related species tennesseensis, which is also thought to be a temporary nest parasite. In Ohio, however, Wesson and Wesson (1940) found mariae "frequently," in oak trees, the nests in branch stubs or in rotten holes in the trunk. The Wessons did not find any other arboreal Aphaenogaster, although they regularly found several other species of arboreal ants. It seems a bit unlikely that they would have missed a species of arboreal Aphaenogaster common enough to serve as the host for mariae. Of course, the nesting ecology of a species of ant is not necessarily constant throughout its range; Aphaenogaster lamellidens seems to be an example of this. In Florida, one specimen was collected in a red maple swamp; the other was probably collected in a hardwood forest.





The males of this species have yet to be collected.


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

  • mariae. Aphaenogaster mariae Forel, 1886b: xli (w.) U.S.A.
    • Combination in Stenamma (Aphaenogaster): Emery, 1895c: 301.
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster (Attomyrma): Emery, 1921f: 58.


Mary Treat

Deyrup (2016) - August Forel named this species for Mary Treat, who sent him a specimen from Florida. Forel named both A. mariae and Aphaenogaster treatae for Mary Treat in the same paper (Forel 1886). I am impressed that she found this species, which I have sought in vain for years.

Mary Treat (1830-1923) was an important self-taught scientist who wrote several books on natural history, including one on butterflies, her work often being published in popular magazines rather than scientific journals. In January, 1879, she published an extensive account of a colony of a slave-making Formica, with detailed descriptions of raids and some preliminary experimental manipulations. Lacking scientific credentials, and perhaps primarily interested in stimulating general interest in the natural history of ants, Treat published her paper in Harper's Monthly Magazine. Treat's observations are still useful and raise some interesting questions, assuming the account is accurate. There are plenty of startling anthropomorphisms, as one might expect for the time, considering that the first volumes of Fabre's Souvenirs Entomologiques (which mark the beginning of our modern understanding of insect behavior) were also published in 1879. Her work was noted by Charles Darwin in his book on insectivorous plants, and the two exchanged letters on the subject. Many of her studies were done in her yard and garden in New Jersey, or in the nearby Jersey Pine Barrens. A patient, intelligent, original observer and excellent writer, she might have been an academic star if she had been born at a time or place when there was less disparagement of what was called "the female intellect."