Monday Night Mystery: Name That Ant!

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Let’s return to the basics tonight with a good old-fashioned ant identification challenge. Who is this?

Five points will be awarded to the first person to correctly guess the genus, and five more points for the species. In both cases, supporting diagnostic information must be provided for full credit.

The cumulative points winner for the month of April will win their choice of 1) any 8×10-sized print from my photo galleries, or 2) a guest post here on Myrmecos. Good luck!

13 thoughts on “Monday Night Mystery: Name That Ant!”

  1. Formica pallidefulva. Antennae on margin of clypeus, alitrunk deeply incised and not smoothly convex. Don’t see macrochaetae on thorax, and scapes don’t seem that short (c.f. incerta).

  2. Wait no, Formica pallidefulva!

    Diagnosis: One waist segment, lacking a questionable post-petiole in the gaster, makes it a Formicidae. Trait to rule out Dolichoderinae isn’t visible but this is clearly in a Formica species, the largest ant genus in North America.

    Formica is split into 7 groups: Sanguinea, Microgyna, Rufa, Exescta, Pallidefulva, Neogagates, and Fusca. The first four listed here all have robust mesosoma, and wider heads than what’s shown here. Fusca has much larger eyes in comparison to the head than what’s shown above and also tend to be covered in dense pubescences. So not that. Neogagates all tend to be smaller, and the only one matching that color pattern is only found out west. So that leaves the Pallidefulva group, which all tend to be slender overall, don’t have loads of pubescence all over and mostly come in the subdued brown orange color pallet as seen above.

    F. archboldi is only found in Florida and has longer erect hairs on the gaster. F. biophilica has lots more erect hairs all over the body, typically white in color. F. dolosa same story, but even longer and whiter hairs. Which leaves F. incerta and F. pallidefulva. So I flipped a coin, and stand by it as F. pallidefulva. The two are just to similar looking to really separate with the photo above. F. pallidefulva is said to be the shiniest but F. incerta can sometimes be just as shiny. Both species are often found in the same fields (where dandelions like to grow). The easiest way I know to separate the two species is by looking at the queen’s mesosoma color, F. pallidefulva has a solid color and at best only slight hints of spots, while F. incerta queens will have more clearly defined spots. I’m also siding with F. pallidefulva because of the seeming lack of erect hairs (even thin ones) on the mesosoma.

  3. You spelled the word plant wrong, Alex. Anyway, Name that (Pl)ant: Taraxacum officinale, the Dandelion. Why we’re trying to go around identifying the fuzzy brown blob obstructing the middle of the picture is completely beyond me.

  4. Pingback: Answer to the Monday Night Mystery – MYRMECOS - Insect Photography - Insect Pictures

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