Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus

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Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Pseudomyrmecinae
Genus: Pseudomyrmex
Species group: ferrugineus
Species: P. ferrugineus
Binomial name
Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus
(Smith, F., 1877)

Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus casent0005785 profile 1.jpg

Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus casent0005785 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Synonyms

A common species, these ants live in swollen-thorn acacias (=Vachella).

Identification

Ward (1993) - Workers and queens of P. ferrugineus can be recognized by features of head morphology (laterally rounded median clypeal lobe, well separated frontal carinae and correspondingly limited exposure of the median lobes of the antennal sclerites, and moderately broad worker head), head sculpture (densely punctulate and (sub)opaque, but weakly shining on upper third of head between the ocelli and compound eye), and coloration (variably brown, not black or orange-brown). This species is most likely to be confused with the allopatric Pseudomyrmex janzeni and the partly sympatric Pseudomyrmex flavicornis. See under those species for more specific discussion.

Distribution

Eastern and southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico (type locality), Nicaragua.


Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

A common species and colonies have been recorded from all swollen-thorn acacia species growing within its range, i.e. Acacia chiapensis, A. collinsii, A. cookii, A. cornigera, A. gentlei, A. globulifera, A. hindsii (now Turnera velutina), A. janzenii, A. mayana and A. sphaerocephala. Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus is usually monogynous (Janzen 1967b, 1973) but a few alcohol nest series from Guatemala, belonging to apparently mature colonies (as judged by the presence of alates), contained more than one dealate queen. Janzen (1966, 1967b) conducted a massive experimental study of the interaction between P. ferrugineus and Acacia cornigera in Mexico, and the results of these experiments, together with copious additional observations by Janzen, showed conclusively that the ants protect the acacia from herbivores and competing plants (especially vines). P. ferrugineus was also the subject of a study on kinship and nestmate recognition among workers (Mintzer 1982; Mintzer et al. 1985) which demonstrated a worker-based and probably inherited component to colony odor. Statements about the biology of "P. ferruginea" from regions south of EI Salvador and Honduras (e.g. Janzen 1983) refer to a different species, Pseudomyrmex spinicola.

Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus inhabit a majority of Turnera velutina (previously Acacia hindsii) plants (citations given in Fonseca-Romero et al. 2019), serving the role of a dominant, aggressive ant species that defends the plant. The plant in turn provides nesting space (hollow thorns) and food (extrafloral nectaries and beltian bodies) to the ants.

Castes

Nomenclature

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

  • ferrugineus. Pseudomyrma ferruginea Smith, F. 1877b: 64 (w.) MEXICO. Combination in Pseudomyrmex: Kempf, 1972a: 218. Senior synonym of bequaerti Wheeler (and its junior synony bequaerti Enzmann), fulvescens, hondurana, saffordi Wheeler, vesana, wasmanni: Ward, 1989: 437. See also: Ward, 1993: 136.
  • fulvescens. Pseudomyrma belti r. fulvescens Emery, 1890b: 64 (w.) GUATEMALA. Forel, 1907e: 7 (m.); Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 160 (q.). Combination in Pseudomyrmex: Kempf, 1972a: 216. Raised to species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 57. Subspecies of belti: Forel, 1899c: 87. Junior synonym of ferrugineus: Ward, 1989: 437.
  • canescens. Pseudomyrma canescens Wasmann, 1915a: 321, pl. 14, figs. 1-4 (w.q.m.) MEXICO. [Junior primary homonym of canescens Smith, above.] Replacement name: wasmanni Wheeler, W.M. 1921b: 92 (footnote).
  • wasmanni. Pseudomyrma wasmanni Wheeler, W.M. 1921b: 92 (footnote). Replacement name for canescens Wasmann, 1915a: 321. [Junior primary homonym of canescens Smith, F. 1877b: 66.] Subspecies of belti: Stitz, 1937: 133; Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 164. Junior synonym of ferrugineus: Ward, 1989: 437.
  • bequaerti. Pseudomyrma belti subsp. bequaerti Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 164 (w.) HONDURAS. Combination in Pseudomyrmex: Kempf, 1972a: 216. Senior synonym of bequaerti Enzmann: Brown, 1949a: 42. Junior synonym of ferrugineus: Ward, 1989: 437.
  • saffordi. Pseudomyrma belti subsp. saffordi Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 162 (w.) MEXICO. Combination in Pseudomyrmex: Kempf, 1972a: 216. Junior synonym of ferrugineus: Ward, 1989: 437.
  • vesana. Pseudomyrma belti subsp. vesana Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 163 (w.) MEXICO. Combination in Pseudomyrmex: Kempf, 1972a: 216. Junior synonym of ferrugineus: Ward, 1989: 437.
  • bequaerti. Pseudomyrma belti subsp. bequaerti Enzmann, E.V. 1944: 80, pl. 2, fig. 17 (w.) HONDURAS. [Unresolved junior primary homonym of bequaerti Wheeler, above.] Junior synonym of bequaerti Wheeler: Brown, 1949a: 42.
  • hondurana. Pseudomyrma kuenckeli var. hondurana Enzmann, E.V. 1944: 87 (w.) HONDURAS. Junior synonym of kuenckeli: Kempf, 1961a: 402; of ferrugineus: Ward, 1989: 437.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.

Description

Worker

Ward (1993) - Worker measurements (n = 69). —HL 0.99-1.33, HW 0.92-1.15, MFC 0.054-0.108, CI 0.81-0.94, REL 0.42-0.48, REL2 0.48-0.54, OOI 1.39-3.16, VI 0.60-0.78, FCI 0.054-0.101, SI 0.41-0.46, SI2 0.79-0.91, NI 0.61-0.72, PLI 0.54-0.69, PWI 0.56-0.73, PPWI 1.34-1.70.

Medium-sized species (HW > 0.91; LHT 0.75-1.06) with broad head (CI > 0.80); anterior margin of median clypeal lobe straight or weakly concave, rounded laterally; palp formula 5,3; frontal carinae well separated (FCI > O.O5) and median lobe of antennal sclerite not strongly exposed (FCI2 0.45-0.69); mesonotum notably inclined and with basal face of propodeum rounding gradually into declivitous face, but deviations from this pattern occur; petiole relatively short, high and wide (see relevant metrics: PLI, PWI), with a distinct anterior peduncle (PWI3 0.36-0.50); posterolateral angles of petiole moderately developed but not as pronounced as in P. peperi; postpetiole broad. Head densely punctulate, predominantly opaque or subopaque but at least weakly shining on upper third of head between ocelli and compound eye; mesosoma punctulate to punctulate-coriarious, subopaque to sublucid; posterior portions of propodeum opaque to subopaque and usually overlain by larger but weak, irregular punctures or rugulae. Petiole, postpetiole and gaster with fine piligerous punctures, sublucid. Standing pilosity common; pubescence dense but fine and appressed on most surfaces. Color variable, from light reddish- or yellowish-brown to very dark brown, gaster (and usually head) somewhat darker than the mesosoma; mandibles, scapes, frontoclypeal complex, and apices of legs usually lighter.

Type Material

Ward (1993):

Lectotype worker, Mexico (The Natural History Museum) [Examined].

Pseudomyrma belti race fulvescens Emery 1 890:64. Lectotype worker, Guatemala (Beccari) (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa) [Examined].

Pseudomyrma canescens Wasmann 1915:321. Syntype workers, Tampico, Mexico (Brakhoven) (MCSN, Museum of Comparative Zoology) [Examined].

Pseudomyrma belti subsp. bequaerti Wheeler 1942:164. Lectotype worker, Puerto Castilla, Honduras (J. Bequaert) (MCZC) [Examined].

Pseudomyrma belti subsp. saffordi Wheeler 1942:162. Lectotype worker, Chicoasen, Chiapas, Mexico (G.N. Collins) (MCZC) [Examined].

Pseudomyrma belti subsp. vesana Wheeler 1942:163. Holotype (unique syntype) worker, Cordoba, Mexico (F. Knab) (MCZC) [Examined].

Pseudomyrma belti subsp. bequaerti Enzmann 1945:80. Syntype workers, Puerto Castilla, Honduras (J. Bequaert) (MCZC) [Examined].

Pseudomyrma kuenckeli var. hondurana Enzmann 1945:87. Lectotype worker, Honduras (Bates) (MCZC) [Examined].

References

  • Kempf, W. W. 1972b. Catálogo abreviado das formigas da regia~o Neotropical. Stud. Entomol. 15: 3-344 (page 218, Combination in Pseudomyrmex)
  • Fonseca-Romero, M. A., J. Fornoni, E. del-Val, and K. Boege. 2019. Ontogenetic trajectories of direct and indirect defenses of myrmecophytic plants colonized either by mutualistic or opportunistic ant species. Oecologia. 190:857-865. doi:10.1007/s00442-019-04469-y
  • Smith, F. 1877b. Descriptions of new species of the genera Pseudomyrma and Tetraponera, belonging to the family Myrmicidae. Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 1877: 57-72 (page 64, worker described)
  • Ward, P. S. 1989a. Systematic studies on pseudomyrmecine ants: revision of the Pseudomyrmex oculatus and P. subtilissimus species groups, with taxonomic comments on other species. Quaest. Entomol. 25: 393-468 (page 437, Senior synonym of bequaerti Wheeler (and its junior synony bequaerti Enzmann), fulvescens, hondurana, saffordi Wheeler, vesana and wasmanni:)
  • Ward, P. S. 1993. Systematic studies on Pseudomyrmex acacia-ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Pseudomyrmecinae). J. Hym. Res. 2: 117-168 (page 136, see also)
  • Ward, P.S. 2017. A review of the Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus and Pseudomyrmex goeldii species groups: acacia-ants and relatives (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 4227: 524–542 (doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4227.4.3).