Battle of the Pavement Ants, definitely not Tetramorium caespitum

While walking through the park yesterday, I happened across a sidewalk boundary dispute between two colonies of Pavement Ants.  As is their habit, these little brown ants opted to dispense with diplomacy in favor of all-out warfare.

Incidentally, if I had to pick one thing that annoys me about the purely molecular systematists, it is their tendency to avoid dealing with the taxonomic consequences of their work.  A recent paper by Schlick-Steiner et al (2006) gave a detailed picture of the genetic structure within the Tetramorium caespitum species group.  Among their results was that the common Pavement Ant, a widespread insect introduced from Eurasia, was definitely not Tetramorium caespitum, the name everyone has used for this insect for a century or so.

But instead of figuring out what latin name should apply to our common Pavement Ant, or even devoting a paragraph to giving it a new valid name, they labelled it an unceremonius “Tetramorium Species E”.    So there it is: Species E.

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D
ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec, flash diffused through tracing paper