Veromessor andrei

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Veromessor andrei
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Stenammini
Genus: Veromessor
Species: V. andrei
Binomial name
Veromessor andrei
(Mayr, 1886)

Messor andrei casent0005728 profile 1.jpg

Messor andrei casent0005728 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Although built in open areas the nests are not particularly conspicuous. There is usually no crater, but the nest entrance is surrounded by an area of gravel which, because of its irregularity, can hardly be called a disc. The workers forage in files and collect seeds which are apparently stored in the nest, to judge from the chaff which surrounds the nest entrance. This chaff is scattered about and not formed into a crescent or ring as in the case of pergandei. Very little is known of the mating habits of andrei. Sexual forms which we have examined have been collected from June to September 15. In view of the occurrence of the species in the northern part of California, it seems likely that the marriage flight takes place early in the spring. (Wheeler and Creighton 1934)


Identification Keys including this Taxon

Key to Veromessor species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb



Plowes et al (2014) - Three Nearctic seed harvesting ants in the genus Veromessor (Veromessor pergandei, Veromessor andrei, and Veromessor julianus) employ column foraging to guide workers leaving and returning to the nest. for distributing workers searching for food outside the nest. When foraging first begins for the day, thousands of V. andrei workers emerge from their colony and move along a narrow path away from the nest. These paths, the foraging column, extend from 3 to more than 40 m. At the location where the foraging column comes to an end, workers then disperse in a foraging fan, i.e., individuals leave the trail and forage independently, then return to the column after they have collected a food item (Went et al. 1972; Bernstein 1975; Wheeler and Rissing 1975). Columns may form trunk trails when they lead to a more stable resource (Plowes et al. 2013). The direction taken by a column is determined at the beginning of each foraging bout. Columns always originate at the nest and direction may change between morning and evening and between subsequent days (e.g., Clark and Comanor 1973). In V. andrei, foraging columns often follow the same direction for several successive foraging bouts. The columns function to direct workers to harvesting sites while simultaneously avoiding neighbors (Ryti and Case 1988; Plowes et al. 2014). Inter-colony aggression occurs when columns from neighboring colonies intersect (Wheeler and Rissing 1975; Brown and Gordon 2000).

Plowes et al (2014) combined behavioral analyses in the laboratory and field to investigate chemical communication in the formation of foraging columns in two Nearctic seed harvesting ants, Veromessor pergandei and Veromessor andrei. In the laboratory, V. pergandei were found to use poison gland secretions to lay recruitment trails. GCMS analysis of V. andrei poison glands revealed several volatile substances. Their mass spectra and retention time matched those of (1) 1-phenylethanol (1PE); (2) tridecane; (3) E2-hexadecen-1-ol; (4) pentadecane; (5) hexadecenoic acid; (6) oleic acid; (7) 2-propenoic acid, [3-(4-methoxyphenyl)-, 2-ethylhexyl ester]. A 3 μl of a 0.5–1 ppm solution of 1-phenyl ethanol drawn out along a 40 cm long trail released trail following behavior.

Association with Other Organisms

  • This species is a host for the cricket Myrmecophilus orgeonensis (a myrmecophile) in Canada, United States.



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • andrei. Aphaenogaster andrei Mayr, 1886d: 448 (w.) U.S.A. Emery, 1895c: 306 (q.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1972b: 240 (l.); Taber & Cokendolpher, 1988: 95 (k.). Combination in Stenamma (Messor): Emery, 1895c: 306; in Novomessor: Emery, 1915d: 73; in N. (Veromessor): Forel, 1917: 235; in Veromessor: Wheeler, W.M. & Creighton, 1934: 362; in Messor: Bolton, 1982: 341; in Veromessor: Ward et al., 2014: 13. Senior synonym of castaneus (and its junior synonym flavus): Creighton, 1953a: 3. See also: Smith, D.R. 1979: 1364.
  • castaneus. Veromessor andrei subsp. castaneus Wheeler, W.M. & Creighton, 1934: 365 (w.) U.S.A. Senior synonym of flavus: Creighton, 1950a: 159. Junior synonym of andrei: Creighton, 1953a: 3.
  • flavus. Veromessor andrei subsp. flavus Wheeler, W.M. & Creighton, 1934: 366 (w.) U.S.A. Junior synonym of castaneus: Creighton, 1950a: 159.

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



Wheeler and Creighton (1934) - Length: 4.5-7 mm.

Head, exclusive of the mandibles, four-fifths as broad as long, slightly wider behind the eyes than in front of them, the sides in front of the eyes straight, behind the eyes slightly convex and meeting the occiput in a broadly rounded angle. Occipital border with a broad though very shallow median concavity. Border of the clypeus straight or at most very feebly convex, the median portion feebly sulcate, the lateral portions raised into a narrow ridge or welt which bounds the anterior edge of the antennal fossa. Frontal area opaque. Frontal carinae very narrow and welt-like, slightly divergent above the insertion of the scapes, much more divergent posteriorly where they fuse with the sculpture of the head at a point just behind the posterior border of the antennal fossae. Eyes of moderate size, oval in outline, strongly eon vex, with about sixteen facets in their greatest diameter, their posterior border lying at a point half way between the insertion of the mandible and the occipital border. Antennal scapes slender, the proximal portion dilated to form a trumpet-shaped expansion, distal to this the median portion of the scape somewhat constricted, the apical end only slightly swollen and no larger in diameter than the flared proximal end. When in repose the tip of the scape just reaches the occipital border. Funicular joints, with the exception of the last three, all longer than broad, especially the first joint, which is more than twice as long as broad; joints ten and eleven only slightly longer than broad and notably thicker than the preceding joints, the terminal joint bluntly pointed, longer but no thicker than the preceding two. Mandibles large and stout with the evenly curved outer edge meeting the masticatory margin in a powerful two-cusped terminal tooth. The remaining six or seven teeth much smaller, forming a concave serrated edge to the masticatory margin, the latter meeting the straight inner margin of the mandible at a right angle.

Thorax, seen in profile, with a gibbous promesonotum, the promesonotal suture marked by a somewhat flattened area but not forming a distinct depression; epinotum greatly depressed, the mesoepinotal suture broad and strongly impressed; basal face of the epinotum virtually flat, sloping slightly backward, terminating in two large, straight, divergent spines, which slightly exceed the length of the basal face of the epinotum; declivous face of the epinotum short and concave. Seen from above, the promesonotum is pyriform and notably wider than the rest of the thorax, the sides of the thorax very slightly constricted at the mesoepinotal suture, sides of the epinotum virtually parallel. First joint of the petiole with a rather thick peduncle, which gradually increases in thickness from its anterior end to the base of the node, its ventral surface with a sharp anterior tooth and a low, rounded lamella at its midpoint. Node of the petiole small, its height no greater than the thickness of the peduncle, its anterior face forming a continuous feebly concave slope with the dorsum of the peduncle, the summit acute, the posterior face very declivous and strongly convex, posterior peduncle extremely short. Postpetiole in profile lower than the petiole, the node low and rounded above, with the anterior face longer though less declivous than the posterior face, ventral surface with a prominent V-shaped median impression. Seen from above, the rather narrow petiole is scarcely two-thirds as wide as the campanulate postpetiole. Gaster large. Legs long, the femora slightly swollen.

Head sub opaque, completely covered with rather coarse, wavy rugae which diverge toward the occiput. The interrugal spaces finely granulose and feebly shining. Mandibles shining, with moderately prominent longitudinal striae. Antennal scapes feebly granulose, more shining than the head. Thorax somewhat more opaque than the head, completely covered with irregular rugae, except at the front and lateral edges of the pronotum where they are subparallel. Petiole and postpetiole strongly granulose, with a few short rugae. Gaster smooth and shining, with numerous fine piligerous punctures.

Entire insect covered with glistening whitish hairs which are very unequal in length; the gular hairs forming rather poorly developed ammochaetae, longer than the majority of hairs on the head and thorax but almost equalled in length by a few long hairs which occur on the upper surface of the head, the pronotum, and the coxae of the fore legs. Dorsum of the first gastric segment entirely covered with hairs which are relatively short and more nearly of equal length than those on the head and thorax. Hairs on the remaining abdominal segments confined to the posterior border of each segment. Antennal scapes, femora, and tibiae with numerous, short, erect hairs; those on the tarsi somewhat finer and subappressed; funicular hairs very fine, short, and subappressed, except on the last four joints where they are replaced by golden pubescence.

Color variable. In some specimens the entire insect is reddish black, except for the nodes of the petiole which are reddish. In other specimens only the posterior part of the gaster is black, the first gastric segment castaneous and the remainder of the insect clear, deep red. Not infrequently both the head and gaster are infuscated, leaving only the thorax and nodes of the petiole red.


  • 2n = 40 (USA) (Taber & Cokendolpher, 1988).


  • Bolton, B. 1982. Afrotropical species of the myrmecine ant genera Cardiocondyla, Leptothorax, Melissotarsus, Messor and Cataulacus (Formicidae). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Entomology, 46: 307-370 (page 341, Combination in Messor)
  • Creighton, W. S. 1953a. New data on the habits of the ants of the genus Veromessor. Am. Mus. Novit. 1612: 1-18 (page 3, Senior synonym of castaneus (and its junior synonym flavus))
  • Emery, C. 1895d. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der nordamerikanischen Ameisenfauna. (Schluss). Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 257-360 (page 306, queen described, Combination in Stenamma (Messor))
  • Emery, C. 1915k. Definizione del genere Aphaenogaster e partizione di esso in sottogeneri. Parapheidole e Novomessor nn. gg. Rend. Sess. R. Accad. Sci. Ist. Bologna Cl. Sci. Fis. (n.s.) 19: 67-75 (page 73, Combination in Veromessor)
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 235, Combination in N. (Veromessor))
  • Mayr, G. 1886d. Die Formiciden der Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 36: 419-464 (page 448, worker described)
  • Plowes, N. J. R., T. Colella, R. A. Johnson, and B. Holldobler. 2014. Chemical communication during foraging in the harvesting ants Messor pergandei and Messor andrei. Journal of Comparative Physiology a-Neuroethology Sensory Neural and Behavioral Physiology. 200:129-137. doi:10.1007/s00359-013-0868-9
  • Smith, D. R. 1979. Superfamily Formicoidea. Pp. 1323-1467 in: Krombein, K. V., Hurd, P. D., Smith, D. R., Burks, B. D. (eds.) Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Volume 2. Apocrita (Aculeata). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. i-xvi, 1199-2209. (page 1364, see also)
  • Taber, S. W.; Cokendolpher, J. C. 1988. Karyotypes of a dozen ant species from the southwestern U.S.A. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Caryologia 41: 93-102 (page 95, karyotype described)
  • Ward, P.S., Brady, S.G., Fisher, B.L. & Schultz, T.R. 2014. The evolution of myrmicine ants: phylogeny and biogeography of a hyperdiverse ant clade (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Systematic Entomology, DOI: 10.1111/syen.12090
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1972b. Ant larvae of the subfamily Myrmicinae: second supplement on the tribes Myrmicini and Pheidolini. J. Ga. Entomol. Soc. 7: 233-246 (page 240, larva described)
  • Wheeler, W. M.; Creighton, W. S. 1934. A study of the ant genera Novomessor and Veromessor. Proc. Am. Acad. Arts Sci. 69: 341-387 (page 362, Combination in Veromessor)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Adams T. A., W. J. Staubus, and W. M. Meyer. 2018. Fire impacts on ant assemblages in California sage scrub. Southwestern Entomologist 43(2): 323-334.
  • Backlin, Adam R., Sara L. Compton, Zsolt B. Kahancza and Robert N. Fisher. 2005. Baseline Biodiversity Survey for Santa Catalina Island. Catalina Island Conservancy. 1-45.
  • Boulton A. M., Davies K. F. and Ward P. S. 2005. Species richness, abundance, and composition of ground-dwelling ants in northern California grasslands: role of plants, soil, and grazing. Environmental Entomology 34: 96-104
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  • Emery C. 1895. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der nordamerikanischen Ameisenfauna. (Schluss). Zoologische Jahrbücher. Abteilung für Systematik, Geographie und Biologie der Tiere 8: 257-360.
  • Fisher B. L. 1997. A comparison of ant assemblages (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) on serpentine and non-serpentine soils in northern California. Insectes Sociaux 44: 23-33
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  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
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  • Mallis A. 1941. A list of the ants of California with notes on their habits and distribution. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 40: 61-100. 
  • Matsuda T., G. Turschak, C. Brehme, C. Rochester, M. Mitrovich, and R. Fisher. 2011. Effects of Large-Scale Wildfires on Ground Foraging Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Southern California. Environmental Entomology 40(2): 204-216.
  • Santschi F. 1911. Formicides récoltés par Mr. le Prof. F. Silvestri aux Etats Unis en 1908. Bullettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 41: 3-7.
  • Smith M. R. 1956. A key to the workers of Veromessor Forel of the United States and the description of a new subspecies (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 32: 36-38.
  • Staubus W. J., E. S. Boyd, T. A. Adams, D. M. Spear, M. M. Dipman, W. M. Meyer III. 2015. Ant communities in native sage scrub, non-native grassland, and suburban habitats in Los Angeles County, USA: conservation implications. Journal of Insect Conservervation 19:669–680
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  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133
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  • Wheeler W. M., and W. S. Creighton. 1934. A study of the ant genera Novomessor and Veromessor. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 69: 341-387.
  • Wheeler, William Morton. 1904. Ants from Catalina Island, California in Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 20:269-271.