Temnothorax curvispinosus

Acorn Ant
Temnothorax curvispinosus

 

Identification:

Worker: Body is brownish-yellow to reddish. Head dull and grooved. Antenna pale yellow, base (scape) is short not reaching top of head. Antenna 11 segments with short white hair, club is 3-jointed. Lower face (clypeus) slightly protruding. Mandibles pale yellow, toothed, with a black spot on each tip. Thorax dull, grooved; shoulders slightly angled. Top of thorax rounded. Main ID: End of thorax has a pair of long, slender spines, slightly pointing upward. Legs pale yellow, thighs (femora) has dark streaks. Between thorax and abdomen (pedicle) has 2 blunt nodes. Abdomen short, smooth and shiny, segment 1 dark brown to black streak down center.

The Acorn Ant Temnothorax curvispinosus queen at moth sheet July 12, 2011. Wheatley, Ontario.
The Acorn Ant Temnothorax curvispinosus queen at moth sheet July 12, 2011. Wheatley, Ontario.

Queen is similar to worker, but top of head is dark. Thorax brownish-yellow to reddish, shiny, segment 2 (scutellum) dark, rounded. The pair of spines at end of thorax are shorter and wider than the worker.  Abdomen has a wide dark band across middle of the 1st segment and a thinner brown stripe at end of the other segments.

Male is same as worker, only darker with very large, black eyes. Antenna base (scape) short. No spines at end of thorax.

Size: Worker 2.75 to 3.5 mm long, Queen 3.5 to 4 mm long.

Flight Time: June to July

Habitat: Forests and meadows.

Food: Tiny insects, honeydew on leaves, seeds.

Life Cycle: Lives in small colonies of usually 25 to 50 workers, seldom reaching 200. Nests in Goldenrod galls, oak galls; hollow twigs and acorns at ground level. One acorn can hold a nest population of 113 individuals. May have multiple queens in one nest. Workers are active throughout the day. They do not tend aphids. Ant will play dead if handled.

Slave-maker ant Protomognathus americanus have been recorded a few times in the nests of Temnothorax curvispinosus. Apparently the ants rebel and kill the new slave-maker queens larvae.

Comments: Recorded from Wellington County. Also in Michigan. Essex County per photos.

Synonyms:
Leptothorax curvispinosus, Stenamma gallarum

References:
Proceedings from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 1903, Vol. 55, pg. 239-241 by Wheeler.
Canadian Entomologist, 1909; Vol. 41, pg. 26 by Wheeler.
Antwiki: http://www.antwiki.org/wiki/Temnothorax_curvispinosus

 

 

Formica incerta

Acid Ant
Formica incerta

 

Acid Ant Formica incerta w feeding on small insect on Hoptree leaf. June 12, 2015, Point Pelee National Park, Leamington, Ontario.
Acid Ant Formica incerta w feeding on small insect on Hoptree leaf. June 12, 2015, Point Pelee National Park, Leamington, Ontario.

Identification:
Head: Worker head reddish-brown and wider than others of this group, but not as shiny. Male is uniform blackish to dull black-brown. Large eyes.
Antenna: Very long antenna base (scape), but shorter than F. pallidefulva.
Thorax: Thorax slightly shiny, very light reddish-yellow to reddish-brown. Base has some short hairs, more than F. pallidefulva. Queen with three distinct dark spots on base of thorax, one at center, one on each side which may appear as streaks – variable. No other Formica Queen has these marks. Male is uniform blackish to dull black-brown, hairy.
Wings: Wings with a faint brownish to smoky gray tint. F. pallidefulva has clear to reddish tint on wings.
Legs: Very long, especially the hind thigh (femur) which reaches almost to the end of the abdomen. (Shorter than F. pallidefulva which surpasses abdomen). Legs are light reddish-yellow, lower legs appear darker. Male legs reddish-brown.
Abdomen: Abdomen is not very shiny, darker reddish-brown (than head), becoming darker near tip. Segment 1 is dull, with appressed hairs; rest of abdomen less dull, but not as shiny as F. pallidefulva, due to more hairs. Male is uniform blackish to dull black-brown. Hairy.

Similar Species: Formica incerta has a slightly shorter antenna base (scape) than F. pallidefulva, slightly more hair on base of thorax, but very short; head slightly wider. Overall, F. incerta is lighter in color and less shiny.

Size: Workers 4.5 to5.5 mm.. Queens 7.5 to 9.5 mm.

Flight Time: Mid-July to mid-August – 2 to 3 weeks later than F. pallidefulva.

Habitat: Prairies and barren land often near grass clumps, dry open forest edges, grasslands and sandy lawns, golf courses. Not a forest dweller.

Food: Frequently found on Sumac flowers, sunflowers, partridge pea and other prairie plants. Tends and protects aphids and treehoppers for their honeydew. Also feeds on honeydew from the Hoptree Leafroller Agonopterix pteleae at Pt. Pelee Nat. Park, Leamington, Ontario.

Life Cycle: Nests, usually in bare soil or under rocks. Occasionally it will nest next to a clump of grass. Exposed nests in soil are covered with plant debris. About 2,000 ants per colony. Several queens may be present in one colony. New colonies are built by the workers.
Preyed on by slave-maker ant Polyergus lucidus in Ontario.
Anting – Flickers are fond of this species and catch the ants, rubbing their acid on their feathers before eating them.

Comments: Not listed for Essex or Kent county. Recorded by Trager, 2007 for Lambton county. Also in Livingston county, Michigan.

Synonyms: Emery 1893
Neoformica pallidefulva subsp. schaufussi var. incerta,  Neoformica pallidefulva subsp. incerta, Neoformica pallidefulva, Neoformica schaufussi, Formica schaufussi

References:
Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute, 2007, Vol. 80, pp. 622 to 625 and key 629 by Trager, et al.

 

Tetramorium immigrans

Pavement Ant
Tetramorium immigrans

 

Pavement Ant Tetramorium immigrans workers dueling it out. May 01, 2009, Wheatley, Ontario.
Pavement Ant Tetramorium immigrans workers dueling it out. May 01, 2009, Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Head: Rectangular, black to very dark brown with long grooves and ridges.
Antenna: Light brown, 12-segmented, the last 3 joints wider (clubbed), base (scape) short, does not reach top of head.
Thorax: Black to very dark brown with long grooves and ridges. Shoulders slightly raised, and wider than rest of thorax. Short spines on each side of the lower thorax. Two nodes on joint between thorax and abdomen (petiole), last node wider than long.

Pavement Ant Tetramorium immigrans queen and 2 workers. July 07, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.
Pavement Ant Tetramorium immigrans queen and 2 workers. July 07, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.

Wings: Clear, veins yellowish-brown, with darker stigma.
Legs: Thighs (femora) dark, enlarged. Rest of legs can be light or dark brown.
Abdomen: Shiny, black to very dark brown, elliptical, covered with scattered short, light hair.
Both queen and male are large, black and shiny. Males have very small heads, huge raised thorax, and do not have the spines on the lower thorax. Queen  has smaller, flat thorax and spines.

Size: Worker 2.5 to 3 mm long, Queen & Male 8 mm long.

Flight Time: June to mid-July.

Habitat: Nests under sidewalks, stones, pavement, and in the crevices of housing structures.

Food: Insects, honeydew, seeds, nuts and plant juices, dead and live insects.

Life Cycle: Nests in exposed soil, under stones and pavement, sometimes in rotting wood. Colonies can be moderately large to very large with over 10,000 workers and more than one queen. Workers can live over 5 years, queens much longer. Will attack other colonies of Paving Ants to expand each colony with fierce battles.

Comments: Essex County – Point Pelee species list.

Synonyms:  Linnaeus 1758
Formica caespitum, Tetramorium caespitum, Myrmica brevinodis var. transversinodis, Tetramorium species E.

References:
Journal of the New York Entomological Society, 1946, Vol. 55 by Enzmann, pp. 47 to 49.
Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 1950, Vol. 104 by Creighton, pg. 286, pp. 290 to 291.
Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society, 1964. Not Available.
Entomological News, 1965, Vol. 76 by Weber, pg. 137.
United States Agriculture, 1965, Technical Bulletin #1326 by Smith, pp. 45 to 47.
Catalog of Hymenoptera, 1979, Vol. 2, pg. 1400.
Entomological News, 1995, Vol. 106 by King & Green, pp. 224 to 227.
Auburn University Alabama, 2003, Thesis Forster: Ants of Alabama, pp. 183 to 184.

Types: Unknown.

 

Myrmica incompleta

Myrmica Ant
Myrmica incompleta

 

Myrmica Ants Myrmica incompleta 2queens and a worker. Sept. 18, 2007, Wheatley, Ontario.
Myrmica Ants Myrmica incompleta 2queens and a worker. Sept. 18, 2007, Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Head: Reddish, top of head dark brown to blackish. Head rough, with many longitudinal lines.
Antenna: Yellowish-brown. Male has short antennal base (scape).
Thorax: Yellowish brown, with many longitudinal lines; hairs light, short. The petiole has two humps, rough and dull. The queen resembles the worker, except top of thorax darker, sometimes with black patches on sides and end.
Male thorax has denser longitudinal lines.

Wings: Queen and male wings have dark brown base, veins and stigma; becoming white, see-through on last half to tips.
Legs: Yellowish-brown, with some short, stiff whitish hair.
Abdomen: Shiny, yellowish-brown, 1st segment dark on top. Scattered short, whitish hairs.
Male is black with yellowish-brown antenna and lower legs.

Size: Queen, male and worker all 5 to 6 mm.

Habitat: Deciduous forests, bogs and wet meadows in open areas.

Food: Honeydew from root-feeding aphids and mealybugs.

Flight Time: August to September

Life Cycle: Nests formed under stones, logs or moss in wet areas. Colonies very large with many queens (polygynous).
Nest Mates: Parasitic Ant Formicoxenus provancheri is very tiny and lives at the edge of Myrmica  nest in smaller tunnels which the Myrmica cannot penetrate. Also host to the Syrphid Fly Microdon albicomatus.

Comments: Essex County per photos. Listed for Ontario, also in Michigan.

Synonyms: Provancher 1881
Myrmica rubra brevinodis, Myrmica whymperi, Myrmica rubra  canadensis, Myrmica rubra brevinodis subalpina, Myrmica brevinodis sulcinodoides, Myrmica rubra brevinodis frigida

References:
Le Naturaliste Canadien 1881, Vol. 12 by Provancher, pg. 359: In French.
Bulletin of the Wisconsin Natural History Society, 1907, Vol. 5 by Wheeler, pp. 76 to 77.
State Geological and Natural History Survey: Guide Insects of Connecticut 1916, pt. 3 #22. Hymenoptera by Wheeler, pg. 587.
Zootaxa, 2016 Vol 4175 #1: Taxonomy of some little-understood North American ants by Shattuck and Cover, pg. 18 to 19.

Types:
Holotype as Myrmica incompleta worker, queen and male by Provancher, 1881. Type Locality: Quebec. In Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa, Italy (MCSN).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prenolepis imparis

False Honey Ant
Prenolepis imparis

 

False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis worker on pineapple in composter March 19, 2011, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.
False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis worker on pineapple in composter March 19, 2011, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Head: Shiny, dark brown to black. Head small, oval eyes. Long whiskers (palpi). Mandibles black. Queen has large eyes.
Antenna: Pale light yellowish. Base (scape) much longer than head. Segments do not widen at tips (no club).
Thorax: Dark brown, sometimes slightly reddish-brown, shiny. End of abdomen has one horn (petiole). Queen more reddish, thorax large, flattened on top.
Wings: Wings are smoky, slightly yellowish at tips; veins brown. Male wings are milky white.
Legs: Pale light yellowish, long. Male legs thighs (femur) dark; shins (tibiae) more reddish-yellow.
Abdomen: Worker abdomen dark brown, shiny, cone-shaped, almost triangular, tip sharp-pointed; can be engorged (4 to 5 times normal size) with fluids and will have a lighter stripe or blotches across segments. Queen abdomen with a lighter reddish stripe across each segment.

Male is black.  Queen is reddish-orange, not shiny.

Size: Queen 8 to 10 mm. Male and Worker 3 to 4 mm

Flight Time: Early to mid-April, they are the first ants to fly.

Habitat: They build their nests deep underground in moist clay or sand in well-shaded locations.

Food: Honeydew from aphids, treehoppers and scale. Sumac flower nectar. Live and dead insects, worms and decaying fruits. Foraging occurs mostly at night or on cloudy, cool days.

False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis queen and tiny male mating April 13, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.
False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis queen and tiny male mating April 13, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.

Life Cycle: Each colony is small, with a few hundred ants. Colony are very deep in the ground ( 3 meters) and has only one entrance surrounded with loose soil; sometimes soil is washed away. Mature winged males and females overwinter in nest; flying and mating in early spring. The females find a new location for nests. Special workers (repletes) feed only on liquids causing engorged abdomens. They hang from the top of the tunnels in the nest as living food sources for the other ants. P. imparis can tolerate near freezing  temperatures when foraging. Can be the dominant species on carrion.

False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis male on Forsythia flower April 21, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.
False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis male on Forsythia flower April 21, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.

No predators or nest mates have been found in Prenolepis imparis nests.

Comments: Essex County – Lake Erie Island species list; Ojibway Prairies species list, 2008. Kent County – Rondeau Prov. Park species list, 2009. Widespread up to Toronto. In Canada, this ant only lives in Ontario.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Lasius neoniger

Labour Day Ant
Lasius neoniger

 

Identification:
Head: Medium brown, hairy. Eyes large, but not as large as L. alienus.
Antenna: Dull yellowish-brown.
Thorax: Dull yellowish-brown to slightly reddish, lighter than head and abdomen.
Wings: Both male and female have slightly tinted wings, veins and stigma yellowish-brown. No pattern or dark shading.

Labour Day Ant Lasius neoniger queen and workers. August 22, 2007, Wheatley, Ontario.
Labour Day Ant Lasius neoniger queen and workers. August 22, 2007, Wheatley, Ontario.

Legs: Light to medium brown. Four erect hairs on hind shin (tibia).
Abdomen: Medium brown. Top of abdomen hairy.
Queen similar, but has darker thorax. Male is entirely black.

Similar Species: Easily confused with Lasius alienus workers which have larger eyes and much darker brown to black color. L. alienus live in damp, shady parts of a forest. Lasius neoniger live in open, dry areas like lawns.

Size: Workers 2.5 to 3 mm. Males 4 mm, Queens 7 to 8 mm

Labour Day Ant Lasius neoniger workers and males. August 22, 2007, Wheatley, Ontario.
Labour Day Ant Lasius neoniger workers and males. August 22, 2007, Wheatley, Ontario.

Habitat: Meadows, grass, prairies, sand dunes; well-drained soil in cultivated fields. Usually the dominant species in lawns and golf courses with dense populations creating craters above the soil.

Food: Mealybugs and aphid honeydew; other insects, dead or alive, and flower nectar.

Flight Time: Mid Aug to mid Sept. but usually around Labour Day. Late afternoon, just before rain.

Life Cycle: Nests in soil, forming volcanic-like mounds above ground level. Colony hibernates in winter with 1st instar larvae. Nocturnal, foraging at night for dead insects. Farms root aphids by storing aphid eggs in nest during the winter. When hatched, the ants carry them to plant roots to feed. If using the Corn Root Aphid Anuraphis maidiradicis the ants will transport them to the corn roots. They also tend honeydew from other insects like late-instar butterfly larvae of the Frosted Elfin Callophrys irus.

After the late-season nuptial flight, queens shed their wings, hibernate in small cavities in the soil and start a new colony the next spring. Queens will sometimes invade other Lasius species colonies. Often mixed colonies are found. Lasius in general and particularly  neoniger do not sting or use formic acid. Mature nests usually contain from 1,000 to 10,000 individuals, and queens can live 15-20 years.

Predators: Yellow Jacket Wasps Vespula maculifrons prey on Lasius neoniger nuptial flights.

Cuckoo Wasp (Eucharitidae) Pseudometagea schwarzii lays eggs on plant flower buds, when hatched the larvae hitch a ride on the L. neoniger ant to the nest, where it feeds on the ant larvae.

Nest Mates: Short-winged Mold Beetle Adranes species are allowed in L. neoniger nests to live.

Comments: Essex County – Point Pelee National Park per BOLD in 2012. Wheeler recorded it from Sudbury.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Lasius claviger

Smaller Yellow Ant
Lasius claviger

 

Smaller Yellow Ant Lasius claviger workers Oct. 26, 2004, Wheatley, Ontario.
Smaller Yellow Ant Lasius claviger workers Oct. 26, 2004, Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification: Our only entirely orange-yellow ant.
Head: Body color pale yellowish to yellowish-red. Eyes very small, nearer top of head. Whiskers (palpi) short, 3-segmented. Male is all black.
Antenna: Yellowish. Base (scape) or segment 1 extends to top of the head, but not beyond.
Thorax: Workers and queen considered yellowish-orange, but queen is darker. Male is black. Thorax has a single horn just before abdomen, very narrow and sharp at tip.
Wings: Dark, smoky in both queen and male.
Legs: Pale yellowish to yellowish-red.
Abdomen: Wide, shiny. Pale yellowish to yellowish-red; slightly lighter than rest of body. Many erect hairs on top side. No stinger.

Smaller Yellow Ant Lasius claviger male came to moth lights, Sept. 10, 2011, Wheatley, Ontario.
Smaller Yellow Ant Lasius claviger male came to moth lights, Sept. 10, 2011, Wheatley, Ontario.

Size: Workers 3 to 4 mm long.
Male 4 to 5 mm long, entirely black.
Queens 7 to 8 mm long. 

Similar Species: The Larger Yellow Ant Lasius (Acanthomyops) interjectus is present in Michigan, but not Ontario. Workers and Queen are a couple of mm larger. The antenna are longer and narrower. Nuptial flights are in June, rather than in the fall like the Smaller Yellow ant.

Habitat: Forest edges (prefer pine, oak and hickory), meadows and fields. 

Smaller Yellow Ant Lasius claviger queen on grass stem, Sept. 18, 2010, Wheatley, Ontario.
Smaller Yellow Ant Lasius claviger queen on grass stem, Sept. 18, 2010, Wheatley, Ontario.

Food: Honeydew from subterranean aphids, plant lice and mealybugs, farmed by the ants on plant roots. The workers are also generalist scavengers.

Flight Time: Late August to end of October. Flights usually occur in the late afternoon, just before rain.

Life Cycle: Nests vary greatly, found in rotting wood, under stones, and mounded in clay to sandy soils. Mealybugs and root-aphids are cared for, and the ants will move them away if disturbed. Ants also emit a lemon or citronella odor if alarmed, formerly called Citronella Ant. Males and queens overwinter, and may fly on warm winter days. Queens invade other Lasius colonies, killing their queen and taking over the nest.

The Smaller Yellow Ant preys on Square-headed Crabro Wasp Anacrabro ocellatus nests which are stocked with plant bugs.
Nest Mates: Round Fungus Beetle Nemadus parasitus, larvae of the Orange-spotted Ladybug Brachiacantha ursina which feeds on root-aphids Pemphigus, Cuckoo Wasps (Bethylidae) Pseudisobrachium ashmeadi and P. elongatum, Short-winged Mold Beetles Batrisodes montrosus and B. ferox, Ground Beetle Panagaeus crucigerus, Rove Beetles Quedius molochinus and Homoeusa expansa.
Note: On May 22, 2014 the Brown Fruit Chafer Euphoria inda was laying eggs in a Smaller Yellow Ant nest. She made two holes about 3 inches apart.
Bird Anting: Blue Jays and Flickers will catch winged males and females, rubbing them on their feathers and then eating them.

Comments: Essex County – Ojibway species list, 2008.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Crematogaster cersi

Acrobat Ants
Crematogaster cerasi

 

Acrobat Ant Crematogaster cerasi worker on Euonymus flower May 22, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.
Acrobat Ant Crematogaster cerasi worker on Euonymus flower May 22, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.
Acrobat Ant Crematogaster cerasi workers May 30, 2008 Wheatley, Ontario.
Acrobat Ant Crematogaster cerasi workers May 30, 2008 Wheatley, Ontario.
Acrobat Ant Crematogaster cerasi queen
Acrobat Ant Crematogaster cerasi queen. Sep 10, 2007 Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification: Workers are tiny black or with a reddish thorax and pointed abdomens. Abdomens are often raised. Antenna base (scape) is longer than the head. The end of the thorax has a pair of long spines. The joint (petiole) to the abdomen is considered two segments but they are flattened, and attached to the upper side of the abdomen, rather than in the center as with all other ants. Queens are all reddish to shiny black with three distinct rows of hairs on the abdomen and a pointed tip. Males are small and black with very tiny heads.

Size: Workers and males 2.5 to 4 mm. Queen about 6 mm.

Flight Time: July to October.

Habitat: Forests and prairies, wet meadows. Nests in wood, grass clumps or under rocks.

Food: Honeydew aphids and treehoppers, dead insects, and have been seen building plant fragment tents over the bugs. Also in Eastern Carpenter Bee nests.

Comments: Essex County – Ojibway Prairies. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park. Also in Michigan.

 

Aphaenogaster tennesseensis

Spine-waisted Ant
Aphaenogaster tennesseensis

 

Spine-waisted Ant Aphaenogaster tennesseensis male
Spine-waisted Ant Aphaenogaster tennesseensis male. Came to moth light June 28, 2012. Wheatley, Ontario.

A fee no gas’ ter
Identification: Generally, spine-waisted ants are thin with very long legs. Aphaenogaster tennesseensis queen and male have smooth, untextured bodies; workers have rough, textured head and thorax, abdomen smooth.

Head: Workers are dark reddish-brown and almost hairless; head has coarse texture. Small eyes. Mandibles small, curved inward and downward. Queen head almost entirely shiny, not rough. Male head is black, shiny, no texture; yellow mandibles; large prominent eyes placed nearer mouth.
Antenna: Base (scape) very low on face, near mouth. Female base extends past head. Antenna segments are hairy; no clubs at tip. Male antenna yellowish, base (scape) is extremely short = 4 antenna segments.
Note: The longest, and sometimes called the first antenna segment is actually the scape or base. The antenna segments are all very short compared to the base or scape.
Thorax: Dark reddish-brown. Neck (prothorax) narrower than head. First part of thorax is high, humped on top, rest of thorax is much lower or depressed. Very large pair of curved, thick spines at the end of the thorax on workers and queen. Worker thorax is rough textured. Queen has smooth shiny thorax.
Thorax on male is black, shiny, smooth; thorax end has two short, blunt protrusions. The joint between thorax and abdomen is wider at abdomen end. Queen and male entirely shiny, no texture.
Wings: Wings extend slightly past abdomen.
Legs: Legs dark. Male has mostly clear yellowish legs; hind thigh (femur) very long.
Abdomen: Abdomen is more yellowish-red on female, darker on worker; no hair. Male abdomen is black, with very few short hairs. Queen, worker and male all have shiny abdomens, no texture.

Similar Species: Aphaenogaster treatae has a thick appendage on the front of the base (scape) of the antennae and is found only in Pinery Provincial Park, Grand Bend, Ont. Males also look similar to the male Pavement Ant Tetramorium caespitum, but hind thigh (femur) is about 4 times as long in the Spine-waisted, and antenna are much longer. All Aphaenogaster males have longer hairs on abdomen, except Aphaenogaster tennesseensis.

Size: Worker, Queen and Male 4 to 5.5 mm long.

Flight Time: July and August.

Habitat: Forests with decaying logs, stumps.

Food: Scavengers of small insects and honeydew. Will eat mushrooms, apparently for moisture content. Aphaenogaster tennesseensis is a predator of the destructive oak borer long-horn beetle, Enaphalodes rufulus.
Spine-waisted ants take seeds of Wild Ginger and Trillium to the nest, eat the coating off the seeds, then return the seeds back to the forest. They also use leaves to soak up liquids and take the leaves back to the nest.

Life Cycle: Nests can be small or large, usually in rotting wood, but they may live in soil if taking over another Aphaenogaster species nest. A. tennesseensis is a Slave-maker of A. rudis and treatae. Typically, with parasitic species, queens, males and workers are all the same size.

Nest Mates: The Ant-like Stone Beetle Scydmaenus zimmermanni was found in their nests in Michigan Jun 21, 1933. Beetles were “numerous and quite unmolested by the ants.” Also the Short-winged Mold Beetle Tyrus humeralis can reside in these ant’s nests.

Comments: Essex County – Ojibway Prairies. Also in Michigan

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Formica ulkei

Acid Ant
Formica ulkei

 

Acid Ant Formica ulkei workers covering nest with leaves
Acid Ant Formica ulkei workers covering nest with leaves. Aug 25, 2004 Wheatley, Ontario.
Acid Ant Formica ulkei worker side nest entrance
Acid Ant Formica ulkei worker at side nest entrance. Aug 23, 2005 Wheatley Provincial Park, Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Head: Shiny brown to black; red on lower half of face. Back of head has a concave shape. Male all black.
Antenna: Yellowish-red. Male black.
Thorax: Dull yellowish-red. Base of thorax has a darker patch across. A few golden hairs. Queen more shiny, thorax sides dark brown.
Wings: Tinted brown with pale brown veins and stigma.
Legs: Darker yellowish-red than the thorax. Golden hairs.
Abdomen: Shiny black. Golden hairs. Queen has longer, lighter-colored hairs.  Male abdomen black with reddish-brown tip with grayish hair.

Size: Worker 3.5 to 6 mm. Queen 7.5 to 9 mm. – considered small. Male 7 to 8 mm.

Habitat: Near water – edges of swamps, marshes, fens, sedge meadows and wet prairie.

Food: Varied – honeydew from aphids, treehoppers. Tussock Moth Halysidota species larvae.

Flight Time: Late June to early July, mornings at 60 degrees F.

Life Cycle: Nests are constructed deep underground with the excavated material forming a flat mound above the nest.  A number of entrance holes are located around the mound near the base or slightly up the sides.  Mounds may be covered with a thin layer of plant debris.  Mound size ranges up to 122 cm in diameter by 45 cm in height. Usually near water, the lower tunnels are always moist, and attract many other nest mates requiring moisture. Nest mates include Ladybugs, Lacewings, Flower Fly Microdon; Beetles, especially Rove Beetles Megastilicus and Atheta, but also Click Beetle Melanotus and Scarab Flower Chafer Phyllophaga.

Will temporarily take in Formica fusca queens. Nests have also been found with F. subsericea present in equal numbers. Also, F. ulkei nests have been found to contain Solenopsis molesta (thief-ant) colonies in the upper portions. Their tunnels are much smaller and F. ulkei workers cannot get into them.

Comments: Listed for Ontario by Natural Heritage Information Centre. Not on any lists for Essex or Kent county, but present.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Formica pallidefulva

Acid Ant
Formica pallidefulva

 

Acid Ant Formica pallidefulva worker on Dogwood
Acid Ant Formica pallidefulva worker on Dogwood flowers Jun 08, 2010. Wheatley, Ontario.
Acid Ant Formica pallidefulva worker on Dogwood flowers
Acid Ant Formica pallidefulva worker on Dogwood flowers Jun 08, 2010. Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification: Least hairy and shiniest, especially the male. Colour is highly variable, generally uniform dark brown in Canada.
Head: Dark brown. Head is smaller than F. incerta. Large eyes.
Antenna: Very long base (scape) extending past head. Scape length longer than F. incerta.
Thorax: Shiny, more reddish-brown. Hair, if any, very short and only at base of thorax. Queen does not have the three dark spots present in F. incerta. Male is more uniform in various colours of dark brown.
Wings: Clear (hyaline) to amber on both male and queen.
Legs: Brown. Hind thigh longer than F. incerta and as long as gaster.
Abdomen: Large, shiny, dark brown. Hair very short, sparse. Queen has less hair.

Similar Species: The very long antenna base (scape), lack of hair on thorax and shiny abdomen distinguish F. pallidefulva from F. incerta.

Size: Workers 5 to 6 mm. Queens 8 to 10 mm.

Habitat: Open or closed canopy forests, prairies; dry grasslands, lawns and parks.

Food: Insects, flower nectar, honeydew left on leaves.

Flight Time: July – morning flights. A few weeks earlier than Formica incerta 

Life Cycle: Colonies are small – 500 workers or less, usually found in or under small, fallen limbs. May also nest in soil usually near a clump of grass. Only males come to lights at night.
These ants do not tend or protect aphids or treehoppers.
A host of the slavemaker ant, Polyergus lucidus and in southern Ontario.
Beewolf Wasp Aphilanthops frigidus preys on F. pallidefulva winged males and queens.

Comments: Essex County – Point Pelee National Park. Lambton County per Trager, 2007. Also in Livingston County, Michigan and in Sandusky, Ohio.

Synonyms: Latrielle, 1802
Formica pallide-fulva, Formica schaufussi, Formica pallidefulva subsp. nitidiventris, Formica nitidiventris, Formica pallidefulva subsp. fuscata, Formica pallidefulva fuscata, Formica pallidefulva var. succinea, Neoformica pallidefulva, Neoformica pallidefulva subsp. delicata, Neoformica pallidefulva subsp. nitidiventris.

References:
Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute, 2007, Vol 80: Revision of the Nearctic Endemic Formica pallidefulva Group by J. Trager, et al., pp. 625 to 628.
Great Lakes Entomologist, 1979, Vol. 12, #2 by Talbot, pg. 87.

 

 

Formica obscuripes

Western Thatching Ant
Formica obscuripes

Identification:

Western Thatching Ant Formica obscuripes worker on leaf
Western Thatching Ant Formica obscuripes worker. July 01, 2010 Celista, B.C.
Western Thatching Ant Formica obscuripes worker
Western Thatching Ant Formica obscuripes worker in nest. July 01, 2010 Celista, B.C.

Workers: Head and thorax light red, smaller workers spotted with brown. Legs and horn (petiole) are reddish-brown. Abdomen deep brown or blackish, covered with slightly long and dense, gray hair. Eyes hairy.

Size: Worker 3.8 to 8 mm long.

Habitat: Prairies, grassy meadows, pine forest edges.

Food: Other insects found dead or alive are carried back to the nest. Also honeydew from aphids and treehoppers. Travel high up in trees and are an important predator of the Western Spruce Budworm and other larvae. Also engage in ‘beetle flipping’, turning beetles on their backs before carrying them to the nest as food.

Flight Time: Late June to early July. Morning flights.

Life Cycle: Nests are found in open areas; large mounds covered by small pieces of plant material to help regulate temperature in the nest. Tunnels are deep.  Colonies are large and can be over 35,000. Newly mated queens will try to take over another Formica species nest, killing or driving off the old queen. The old workers continue to feed the new ‘foreign’ queen and her offspring until they die off, and the nest becomes entirely Formica obscuripes.  Apparently this species takes in guests – Formicoxenus hirticornis.

Synonyms: Forel 1886
Formica aggerans, Formica melanotica


References:
Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 1953. Vol. 53, #10, pg. 433 by Wheeler

Formica fusca

Silky Ant
Formica fusca

 

The Silky Ant Formica fusca male
The Silky Ant Formica fusca winged male July 03, 2006 Wheatley, Ontario.
Silky Ant Formica fusca wingless queen
The Silky Ant Formica fusca wingless queen July 07, 2006 Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification: Silky Ant – introduced from Europe. Formica fusca is a dark-bodied species.
Workers have slender black bodies with whitish hairs on top of head, thorax and abdomen. Eyes are hairless. Antenna slender, the base (scape) is red, slightly wider at tip. Antenna segments 1 and 2 also red. Large eyes. Mandibles red, with 8 teeth. Thorax narrow. Abdomen small, whitish hairs longer with a frosted (pruinose) appearance. Legs slender, red to brownish-red. Workers are extremely timid, and subject to enslavement by other species of Formica.
Queen is black. Thorax wider than the head. Wings long, nearly colorless, stigma brown. Abdomen very smooth and shining, less hairs than worker abdomen.
Male is black, slender. Head wide across top, lower face very narrow. Eyes large, hairless. Antenna base (scape) dark brown. Mandibles narrow, pointed and toothed. Wings slightly more tinted than female. Legs yellow, feet black.  Abdomen more brownish, very shiny, long and narrow, without hair. Abdomen tip yellow.

Size: Worker 4 to 6.5 mm. Male 8 to 10 mm. Queen 7 to 10 mm.

Flight Time: July to August.

Habitat: Uncultivated land, nesting under stones and in tree stumps under loose bark.

Food: Feed on small insects, aphid honeydew and flower nectar.

Life Cycle: Nests are usually small 500 to 2,000 workers. Colonies stop producing eggs in late summer, and only adults over-winter in the nest. Winged males and females are not produced until the colony is 3 years old. The winged ants mate on the ground and the newly mated queens start a new nest, feeding their first brood alone.  Colonies can last 10 or more years.

F. fusca group ants are often the hosts of socially parasitic ants, including Polyergus and Formica slave-raiders, and the Little Black Ant Monomorium minimum. To counter these attacks, the Silky Ant has workers who monitor the larva for foreigners, and will remove them from the nest.

Comments: Essex County – not listed; listed for Ontario per NHIC (Natural Heritage Information Centre). Wheeler found it in Guelph. Also in Michigan.

Synonyms: Linnaeus 1758
Formica fusca var. glacialis

References: Wheeler, G. and J. 1986 Ants of Nevada. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles Co.

Camponotus pennsylvanicus

Black Carpenter Ant
Camponotus pennsylvanicus

 

Black Carpenter Ant Camponotus pennsylvanicus worker April 21, 2006. Wheatley, Ontario.
Black Carpenter Ant Camponotus pennsylvanicus worker April 21, 2006. Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification: A black ant, with one brown horn (pedicle) between the thorax and abdomen. Antenna has no club; the base (scape) is thicker at tip. First segment of antennae is longer than the head. The lower abdomen has long, silvery-white hairs. Major workers have large heads and are usually over 10 mm long. Sometimes the horn and top of the legs can be slightly reddish. Queens and males are black with reddish wings. Males have small heads.

Size: 6 to 13 mm. Major worker 12 to 14 mm. Queen 14 to 18 mm.

Flight Time: Mating flights occur from April to June.

Habitat: Any dead or rotting wood including logs, trees and houses.

Food: Favours sweets, such as decaying fruit, insects, treehopper and aphid honeydew.

Life Cycle: Nests are excavated in dead wood. Newly mated queens start colonies on their own, and feed their young for almost 2 months before they are ready to take over feeding the larvae. It will be many years before the colony produces winged ants capable of mating. Adult males and females over-winter in nest before their late spring flight. As the colony grows, intermediate and major sized worker appear. Usually 3 to 6 years before winged males and females appear.

Comments: Essex County – Ojibway Prairies.
Parasite: An alternate host for the Round Fungus Beetle Nemadus parasites.

Synonyms: De Geer 1773
Formica pennsylvanica, Camponotus herculeanus pennsylvanicus, Camponotus herculaneus var. mahican.

Type specimens are from Pennsylvania, but no type specimens housed in Canadian or U.S. institutions.

Camponotus novaeboracensis

New York Carpenter Ant
Camponotus novaeboracensis

 

New York Carpenter Ant Camponotus novaeboracensis major worker July 22, 2005 on Robinson Island near Killarney, Ontario.
New York Carpenter Ant Camponotus novaeboracensis major worker July 22, 2005 on Robinson Island near Killarney, Ontario.

Identification: Rare in Ontario, the New York carpenter ants have head and abdomen black and the thorax and legs red. Very little hair on abdomen (gaster). Caste has major and minor workers, males and queens. Queens are black with red blotches or streaks on the thorax. Upper legs red, lower legs black. Male is black and has a small head.

Similar Species: Camponotus herculeanus has black at least on the base of the thorax.

New York Carpenter Ant Camponotus novaeboracensis one of many queens, June 26-06 on Robinson Island near Killarney, Ontario.
New York Carpenter Ant Camponotus novaeboracensis one of many queens, June 26-06 on Robinson Island near Killarney, Ontario.

Size: 6 to 12 mm. Queen 14 to 18 mm.

Flight Time: Nuptial flight from June to July.

Habitat: The ants are found in wet wooded Boreal forests, preferring fir trees and nesting in rotting logs and stumps.

Food: Major food source is honeydew from Treehoppers Membracidae, sap from wounds in trees, plant juices and dead insects. Also eat Spruce Budworm, Jack Pine Budworm and Forest Tent Caterpillars.

Life Cycle: Colony size can reach to about 10,000 workers.

Comments: Essex County – Ojibway Prairies species list, 2008.
The ant is a principal host for the Round Fungus Beetle Nemadus species.