General discussions about ants
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Ant ID is something I have wanted to become more proficient in for a long time. About five years ago I asked Dr. Daniel Suiter of UGA to give me a title or two for a decent ant ID guide. He recommended Ants of North America (Fisher and Cover), so I ordered the book. When I opened it, I was taken aback by the sheer technicality, ant anatomy, lack of common names, and the need for a microscope! Well, I finally got a cheap (but very effective!) pocket microscope and took the book down from its shelf-purgatory to really get into ant ID this year.
So far (a month’s time), I have identified ants of the genera Hypoponera, Nylanderia, Brachymyrmex (easy), Camponotus (easy), Dorymyrmex, aaaaannnd Brachyponera! The Brachyponera is the interesting one. It gave me fits... It’s not in the book because the book was published before Brachyponera chinensis’ genus name was “revived from synonymy” (I love that language) and was still called Pachycondyla. I was at my wit’s end last night trying to figure this thing out when somehow I stumbled onto an ID guide associated with a Mississippi University. I knew is was a Ponerine of some sort so I clicked on the tribe name and started my search there...
I don’t know remember what neuronal pathway finally led me to stumble across into a specific ID, but when comparing the dorsal mesasomal pictures to what I saw in the microscope, then doing a mandibular tooth count, and that uniquely-shoe-toe petiolar node...I was in love...I mean there was no mistaking! I had stumbled on to the “invasive” Asian Needle Ant. Now that brings me to a question......
In my reading I read some mentioning that these needle ants were found and identified in southeastern United States sometime in the ‘30s...are they STILL considered invasive? Shouldn’t they now be considered “naturalized”? Another question, does anyone have any experience keeping these? I only grabbed a worker. They were nesting in a customer’s termite baiting system (I work in pest control).
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