The eastern ant cricket Myrmecophilus pergandei

Myrmecophilus pergandei

If you look closely when opening large ant nests in the northern hemisphere temperate zone, there is a good chance you’ll see ant crickets. These flattened, wingless insects are kleptoparasites living among ant colonies, stealing food and tricking the ants into feeding them.

Ant cricket in a nest of odorous house ants

The common species where we live in the midwest is the eastern ant cricket Myrmecophilus pergandei. Larger nests of Tapinoma sessile in our yard often have a few of these running about, so this morning I borrowed one for a twenty minute studio session. They’re odd looking animals, but then, they have an odd lifestyle.

For the rest of the photos, click here.


sources:
MacGown, J.A, Hill, J.G. 2006. The Eastern Ant Cricket, Myrmecophilus Pergandei Bruner (Orthoptera: Myrmecophilidae), Reported From Mississippi, U. S. A. Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences 51: 180-182.

photo details:
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 7D
ISO 200, f/13, 1/250 sec
diffuse flash

14 thoughts on “The eastern ant cricket Myrmecophilus pergandei”

  1. Great pictures! I have never taken the time to look at these under magnification – they usually prune up when I mount them. These are some cool little orthopterans.

    Living off of ant barf isn’t that weird, is it?

    Right?

    1. This species is real generalist, Conor. I’ve seen them with a wide variety of ants in several subfamilies.
      They look rather roach, or even marine isopod (sea roach) like – at least in face-on view.

      Factoids:
      – Males are very rare or unknown for some species.
      – A western species has even been found up in giat sequoias, presumably living up there with carpenter ants.
      – The center of diversity for this genus is the Asian Tropics, where some are arboreal, and some may be more specialized in host preference. M. flavocinctus is an Asian one that I’ve encountered once, in Florida, with the also introduced Paratrechina longicornis. W.M.Wheeler mentions this association in his classic 1910 book “Ants”.

  2. Perfectly adorable! I want one as a plushie!

    Any idea why they seem to have such well developed hind legs, they cant be doing much jumping around inside the tunnels of ant nests…?

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