A common name for a common ant?

North Carolina’s Your Wildlife group has noticed that Forelius, among the most abundant ants in sun-baked habitats across the southern United States, does not have a common name. If you think you can pen a snazzy, memorable moniker for this perky dolichoderine, leave a comment over at Your Wildlife.


20 thoughts on “A common name for a common ant?”

  1. It’s a Southern ant that loves sugar and smells sweet when smoothed? How is it nobody’s called them ‘sugar butts’ or ‘sugar boogers’ yet? Or hey, they’re kinda tannish-red so how about sweet tea ants (pronounced sweet tay of course)

    1. Smooshed! Not smoothed. Damn autocorrect! Oh and a question: my grandpa, a bonafide Ozark hillbilly once remarked when seeing my young son riding a bike that was too big for him “he looks like a piss-ant riding a peanut”. What species exactly is a “piss-ant”? Just wondering.

      1. I was under the impression that piss-ants were Nylanderia, but since the average person thinks there are just four species of ants, it could be anything, like Tapinoma sessle. (People in NC told me there are big, small, red and black ants. Just those four kinds!)

        1. I think “piss ant” (and the semantically similar “pismire”) originally referred to the formic-acid-squirting Formica rufa group. But with these ants having become and still increasingly rare in the modern world, and thus unknown to most people, the term has taken on a different connotation.

  2. Personally I dislike most common names. But for inspiration I suggest to consult:
    Andersen A. N. 2002. Common names for Australian ants. Australian Journal of Entomology 41, 285-293.
    A list of common names suggested by Andersen can be found here:
    Names I enjoy are: “Topless cannibal ants”, “Sausage cannibal ants”, “Beauty ants”, “Giant beaked furnace ants”, “Smiling mono ants” (why not “Mona Lisa ants?”), “Michelin ants”, “Genial killer ants”, and so on. Try to find out which genera and species are meant. 😉
    I hope somebody will find an adequate Name for Forelius. But perhaps “American Forel’s ant” or “Forel’s allrounder ant” would be convenient?

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  4. Too bad “sugar ant” is already taken because it sounds like a much better moniker for Forelius than for Camponotus consobrinus.

  5. Speedy Gonzalez ant or Scurrying sand ant:

    These say something about their rapid gait, geographic range that includes all of both old and current Mexico, and preference for sandy or other dry habitats.

  6. How about Brickyard Ants, in honor of the plaza on the NSCU campus where I usually collected Forelius pruinosis? 🙂

  7. Debido al horario preferido de forrageo de las especies mas comunes en Norteamerica. Pocas hormigas son activas en maxima insolación

  8. For me, the problem is that we have to give an ant a name with ‘ant’ at the end.
    I love the common names of Odonata. Around my dams and garden: blue skimmer, wandering percher, aurora bluetail, tau emerald, various ringtails… we don’t add dragon- or damselfly. And yes, it could be confusing because an Australian emperor is a dragonfly and an Australian admiral is a butterfly, yet each name seems to belong (and somewhere recently on this blog there is a comment about a spider called a brown recluse).
    When I was a child I knew three common names for ants: sugar ant, jumping jack and bull Joe. Only one has ‘ant’ in it and I’d forgotten about the last name until reading Clark’s revisions of Myrmecia. Bull Joe is what my father called the big ones (can’t remember what species, just large, reddish and very prone to sting) and now, when I get stung by Myrmecia nigriceps every weeding season, the pain is greatly tinged with nostalgia.
    Common names need to be meaningfully vernacular if they are going last or have some educative value. Since my short ‘journey to the ants’ I’ve been using Andersen’s proposed Australian names but find many don’t work. ‘Sausage cannibal ant’ hardly describes the mayhem that happens when one turns a rock to find a Camponotus colony rubbing shoulders with Sphinctomyrmex. As for flumed sugar ants – they do (sometimes/periodically) build chimney entrances to their nests (C. suffusus out of mud and C. intrepidus out of plant fibres) – but a flume has to do with water not smoke!

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