Friday Beetle Blogging: Army Ant Associates

See the little rove beetle? (Jatun Sacha, Ecuador)

Last year army ant guru Carl Rettenmeyer posthumously published a paper documenting the tremendous diversity of animals associated with Eciton burchellii. Over 500, in fact. Eciton burchellii has a larger known entourage than any other species of animal.

Although Eciton‘s associates are the best documented, all army ant species have them. Ant colonies represent a tremendous concentration of resources, and animals that have figured out how to subvert the ants’ communication systems gain access to rich stores of food.

This week’s Friday beetle features a few of the coleopterous army ant associates I encountered on my recent trip to Ecuador. I haven’t yet had the time to identify them beyond family (they’re all Staphylinidiae), but feel free to share your knowledge in the comments.

A rove beetle with Labidus praedator.
The same species (at right) sneaks onto the prey of the ants to steal a meal.
A different species of rove beetle running in a Labidus column.

Finally, let’s play Spot-That-Beetle:

Did you see it?

8 thoughts on “Friday Beetle Blogging: Army Ant Associates”

  1. Eciton burchellii has a larger known entourage than any other species of animal.

    Well, except for humans — I’m pretty sure that the species of insect that preferentially inhabit our homes, our cities, our food stores, our crops must be more than 500.

    1. It certainly would be interesting for someone to count them all up an compare…. between obligate parasites & diseases, domesticated animals, crops, ornamentals, various other cultivars, and house plants, GM bacteria, those merely with a human association like roaches and rats, there is certainly a large number.

  2. the myrmecoid staph is an aleocharine in the tribe Leptanillophilini. i think it’s Mimeciton or Pseudomimeciton but you need to count the number of antennomeres (but it reminds me of Mimeciton pulex Wasmann).

    the limuloid ones are tachyporines in the genus Vatesus. they’re closely related to the smaller ones you find under bark in N. America (Coproporus).

  3. Pingback: An Inordinate Fondness #13 « The Dispersal of Darwin

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