Pogonomyrmex harvester ants dump scraps outside their nests.
Pogos at night.
For scavengers, this can be a lucrative place to visit for a meal. Tenebrionidae are frequent visitors. During our trip to TX this past summer, Blapstinus were very diverse and abundant around Pogonomyrmex nest entrances at night.
Blapstinus just eat trash so they’re a benign existence, but nonetheless are not welcome in the eyes of the ants.
This Blapstinus is not welcome.
Sometimes in the literature I come across definitions of myrmecophily that are quite restrictive, limiting the phenomenon to the most integrated members of the niche. I strongly think that myrmecophily is a spectrum, ranging into those that are more loosely associated with ants. If we don’t consider the entire spectrum, we miss the entirety of an ecosystem centered around an ant society.
From Texas again. This is Araeoschizus, a tenebrionid. These guys are loosely associated with ants, but they seem to have a tendency to be found with them. I often collect them with a variety of ant species. This trip, I observed them actively following Solenopsis (?) foraging columns at night for the first time. This adds to the complexity of Araeoschizus natural history.
This one’s from Monahans Sand Dunes
I heard some pleasing news today and it made my day.
This photo’s from Costa Rica. I think it’s a Microdon sp., checking out the nest entrance. Honestly, I know they’re myrmecophilous so I should be able to identify the genus from other hover flies, but the characters that define them are found in the wing venation, so kinda hard to check out in the wild.
Thanks to a comment by Martin, this fly was identified as a species of Lepidomyia. Martin also informed me that the larvae are unknown, but those of a related genus develops in decaying wood. Makes sense, this individual was scouting a tree hole opening, which was coincidentally occupied by an ant colony.
Whatever, gestalt is a taxonomist’s best friend anyways.
Gestalt betrayed me…
Lepidomyia checks out a tree hole opening.
Camponotus were preparing for colonial proliferation.
Reproductives patiently wait for the right moment.
Some case-bearing leaf beetles can be found with ants, where they feed on nest refuse. I’ve previously collected adults and larvae from Arizona, Arkansas and Oregon. The ones from Arizona and Oregon were in the genus Saxinis.
I kept them alive. We’ll have wait and see what the adults look like.
Poster child myrmecophile, Myrmecophilus, hey it’s right in the name!
An immature female, you can see her still-developing ovipositor.
The current revision that treats North American taxa, in my opinion, is not that reliable. I don’t think hind leg spine number is a stable enough character to be used in identification. I have seen taxa with unequal numbers between their hind legs. I think molecular data will give us an entirely new perspective, just as the research in Japan has. I suspect this is what people call Myrmecophilus pergandei.
There is some evidence to suggest that individuals develop according to the size of their hosts. Therefore, some species are known to demonstrate extreme size polymorphism. Could this really be the reason behind these observations?
The female yesterday was a little teneral. The ones today are fully pigmented, and look, an immature!