While stalking ants in the southern Australian state of Victoria, I encountered one minuscule species over and over again. Another stone, another nest. It was a nearly translucent little dolichoderine:
I didn’t think much of it. The insects resembled- in appearance and odor- the ubiquitous Tapinoma that is so abundant elsewhere in the world. That I stopped to photograph it at all has more to do with, what- that I’d lined up the aesthetics of solid ant nest shots? I can’t even remember. It certainly wasn’t any realization that what I was shooting was perhaps interesting.
Yet looking at the photos yesterday evening, something didn’t quite add up for a Tapinoma. The petiolar node was scalar, and there weren’t many records for Tapinoma in that region.
Doleromyrma, although frequently encountered, has received little attention in the published literature. They occur most commonly in dry forested areas, including coastal scrub or heath, where they nest in soil, under rocks or rotten logs…
A Google image search turned up a few images of preserved specimens, but not a single photograph of a living Doleromyrma. Am I really the first person to photograph this common ant in the field? Perhaps so. Or at least, I may be the first person to identify the live photos as such.
If so, it is my great pleasure to introduce the first living photograph of a Doleromyrma queen:
And, cropping in, the first living photograph of the queen’s mites:
Note to self: stop pre-judging the insects.