Monday Night Mystery

While hurricane Sandy mauls the continent east of here, central Illinois remains clear and…rather slow. Let’s spice things up with a straight-up identification challenge:

The identity of this ant completely stumped me. I had to consult an expert on these little gals to figure it out. Can you do any better?

2 points to the first person to correctly guess the subfamily, 4 to the first to pick the genus, and 4 for the first to get the species. The cumulative points winner for the month of October will win their choice of 1) any 8×10-sized print from my insect photography galleries, or 2) a guest post here on Myrmecos.

Good luck!

24 thoughts on “Monday Night Mystery”

  1. I find Marek’s guess quite compelling, but I suspect that the degree of swelling for the terminal antennomeres betrays this specimen as a Pheidole.

  2. Do many people choose the guest post? I cant think of any that I’ve seen in the ~6months Ive been reading

    1. Good question. Most contestants chose the print. And the last couple folks who wanted to guest blog still haven’t sent me anything.

      Thanks for the reminder, though. I’ll send out a reminder!

  3. James C. Trager

    Warning: Rant
    Okay everyone – STOP with the “Myrmecinae”, already! There is no such taxon. The correct spelling is Myrmicinae, derived from the type genus, Myrmica. So just quit it, please.

  4. Alex,
    What you have there is the mysterious “yodeling-ant” of the Croatian highlands, Yodelneckis williamsoni. It is the only ant known to communicate acoustically to defend colony territories. The are crepuscular and, if one is lucky, you can hear the workers acoustic displays at the colony’s territorial boundaries in the early evening. They sound faintly like exceedingly bad A cappella country music concerts, complete with hoots, hollers, and, of course, yodeling.

    This is a real find – congratulations to you!

  5. Pingback: Public Service Announcement: Subfamily Spellings – MYRMECOS - Insect Photography - Insect Pictures

  6. “The identity of this ant completely stumped me. I had to consult an expert on these little gals to figure it out. Can you do any better?”

    No! I can’t!

    There, I answered a question correctly!

  7. James C. Trager

    Now that my blood pressure has calmed down, all I can say is Marek beat me to the genus, but I would have had to look up the species.
    Actually, it’s a bit hard to see the clypeal (and sting) character(s) that help(s) one recognize the genus.

    Josh – In Yodelneckidinae?!

  8. Well, I am pretty late for this one. Marek is correct. It is Tetramorium aculeatum (or something closely related), likely imaged in Uganda last August. It is one of the “mean” Tetramorium species that does not immediately look like most genus members. When I saw this species for the first time some years ago I was not sure if it was an Aphaenogastor or a Pheidole, and it was embarrassing to find that it was an arboreal Tetramorium.

  9. Now you know why this African species was first placed in the Neotropical Macromischa, as M. aculeata Mayr 1866. Emery 1896 placed it in Tetramorium as T. aculeatum. Wheeler 1922 separated it in a new genus, Macromischoides. Bolton 1976 placed it back in Tetramorium. They are well known for their vicious sting and felt nests on the underside of large leaves.

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