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.
- 1 Blattodea
- 2 Orthoptera
- 3 Diptera
- 4 Coleoptera
- 5 Lepidoptera / Butterflies
- 6 Mites
- 7 Collembola
- 8 Pseudoscorpions
- 9 References
There are five genera of ant-loving crickets in this family and around 100 species. They are obligate inquilines within ant nests. 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 very small, yellow, brown, or nearly black in color, wingless, and flattened, and resemble small cockroach nymphs. They do not produce sound, and lack both wings and tympanal organs ("ears") on the front tibia.
All are restricted to Madagascar and the Comoros Islands.
Found in Mexico, host ants are Pachycondyla
There are 15 known species. Larvae are found in ant nests. Native to the New World tropics.
The larvae feed as scavengers in the nests of ants, Pseudomyrmecinae. There are three native species from the southern United States to northern Argentina.
Paussinae have a predominantly pan-tropical distribution. They comprise about 800 species.
There are thirty-two species in this genus. All are assumed to be myrmecophiles.
There are 26 species in this myrmecophilous genus
A myrmecophilous genus of 12 species from South and Central America.
The genera of the Paussidae of the Baltic amber. Zool Anz 68(1/2): 25-30. A single species, Eopaussus balticus from Baltic Amber.
There are seven species in this myrmecophilous genus of Carabidae.
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).
Paussoides mengei is found in Prussian amber.
There are two extinct species in this genus from the Lower Oligocene, Florissant, Colorado.
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.
There are sixteen species in this genus.
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 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).
A myrmecophilous genus found in Arizona and Mexico. Host ants are unknown.
Haeterius brunneipennis in nest of Formica exsectoides
A myrmecophilous genus of six species found in North, Central, and South America. This genus is found in the nest of Solenopsis.
A myrmecophilous genus found with Pheidole ants.
This is a myrmecophilous genus of six species. Neivamyrmex is the probable host ant.
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.
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.
There are fourteen species in this myrmecophilous genus of New World Histeridae. The host ant is the genus Pheidole.
There are six species in this myrmecophilous genus of Histeridae.
There are four species in this myrmecophilous genus that live in the nests of Solenopsis
There are thirty-two species from China and adjacent regions; host ant Liometopum.
- Drusilla sparsa / Crematogaster osakensis
There are three species in this myrmecophilous genus.
- 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).
Hovestadt et al. (2019) used a population-genetic model to show how individual Maculinea species could theoretically switch ant hosts.
There are a large number of mite species that live on and with ants.
A genus of mites that use ants for transportation (phoresy).
|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|
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
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).
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.
|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|
- Marachernes bellus (Harvey, 1992)
- Brues, C.T.. 1903. Notes on Some California Myrmecophiles. Entomological News, May, pp. 147-149.
- 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
- Donisthorpe, H. 1927d. The guests of British ants, their habits and life-histories. London: G. Routledge and Sons, xxii + 244 pp.  124251
- 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
- Harvey, M.S. 1992. A new genus of myrmecophilous Chernetidae from southern Australia (Pseudoscorpionida). Records of the Western Australian Museum 15: 763-775.
- 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.
- Kronauer, D. and N.E. Pierce 2011. Myrmecophiles. Current Biology vol 21(6):1-2.
- 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.
- 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
- Parker, J. 2016. Myrmecophily in beetles (Coleoptera): evolutionary patterns and biological mechanisms. Myrmecological News(22): 65-108.
- Perez-Lachaud G, Lachaud J-P. 2014.Arboreal Ant Colonies as "Hot-Points" of Cryptic Diversity for Myrmecophiles: The Weaver Ant Camponotus sp. aff. textor and its Interaction Network with its Associates. PLoS One 9(6):1-8.
- 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
- Smith, J.B. 1886. Ants' Nests and their inhabitants. The American Naturalist, vol. 20 (8):679-687.
- Wasmann, E. 1934. Die Ameisen, die Termiten und ihre Gäste. Regensburg: G. J. Manz, xviii + 148 pp.