21 de diciembre de 2023

The Camponotus conspicuus situation

Thanks to @aaron567 and @mettcollsuss for doing the bulk of the work here.
This post is for future reference in discussions.

So, Camponotus (Tanaemyrmex) conspicuus is a uniquely problematic taxon - probably one of the worst I've seen still around today. Its issues stem from many bad practices and mistakes of early taxonomy that have only been very slowly resolved over the years. Its type specimens appears to be conspecific with Camponotus (Myrmothrix) hannani, hannani having been described separately through odd justifications, namely behavior. That brings up the issue of subgeneric placement. In the future, conspicuus will likely be reassigned to Myrmothrix rather than Tanaemyrmex, or an equivalent species group if/when subgenera are phased out, and hannani will become a junior synonym of conspicuus due to seniority.

conspicuus has also had a history of clearly allospecific subspecies. The most notable is probably Camponotus (Tanaemyrmex) zonatus, which had its status revised a few years ago. zonatus is a recognizable, yellow-black striped Tanaemyrmex found across the Neotropics. Most of the conspicuus records on iNat as of posting this represent zonatus, or something closely related, so they will be reidentified to zonatus or Tanaemyrmex based on what seems safer. There are also other former subspecies that have been raised to species level from conspicuus, such as Camponotus (Tanaemyrmex) inaequalis, but they serve less importance for fixing observations on iNat, and have varyingly problematic taxonomy in themselves. Currently, conspicuus has 2 remaining non-nominal subspecies, C. c. sharpi which appears to be a Myrmothrix lacking scape hairs (or Tanaemyrmex?), and C. c. williamsi, which appears to be something like Myrmaphaenus or Pseudocolobopsis. Potential observations representing sharpi should be left alone if distinguishable or to genus if not, and at genus level for williamsi, considering the poor taxonomy and plausible impossibility of accurately choosing a species-level ID.

As for Myrmothrix observations that should be true conspicuus or hannani, identifying them as hannani would make sense for now considering it is the much more distinct, and accurate taxon to identify. Taxon swaps can fix the issue of synonymization in the future.

Some visual references:
Consistent zonatus records from Florida where they have no potential lookalikes
zonatus type
conspicuus sensu stricto type
hannani type
sharpi type
williamsi type
(Viewing non-type specimens will help as well, considering that the types are not all of the same caste)

Additional notes:

  • The Hawaiian Camponotus (Tanaemyrmex) variegatus are almost definitely conspecific with zonatus, both visually and from available DNA. The records from Asia represent a completely unrelated species.
  • Edited points on sharpi and some other minor edits. XII/21/23
Publicado el diciembre 21, 2023 06:44 MAÑANA por arman_ arman_ | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de junio de 2022

Tentative Key to Nearctic Parasitic Lasius Queens

Updated as of June 12, 2022

Keep in mind that this key only includes species with known queens — which is most — but a couple species, most if not all which are from the West, still have not had their queens documented. It also is generally incomplete, but should cover the common species. I'm mostly making it for fun and practice.
A number of Acanthomyops species hybridize, some of the hyrbids of which are poorly known and elusive. The main common hybrid Lasius claviger × latipes is included, but to be entirely certain it may be worth checking the Key to Lasius-Nearctic Acanthomyops Queens which covers more.
The term "relatively" is used in the key in reference to the two options at its specific couplet, not between all species (e.g. subumbratus and interjectus both fall under "Funiculi not clavate or weakly so" under the first couplet, but between the two of them, interjectus falls under "funiculi relatively clavate" under the seventh couplet)

Funiculi distinctly clavate (Acanthomyops) => 2

Funiculi not clavate or weakly so (Acanthomyops or Chthonolasius)=> 5

Legs relatively lean; petiole with a pointed crest in profile; body without tangled hairs; flights typically occur in Fall, with queens overwintering and beginning founding in Spring => claviger (see possible subglaber queen here)

Legs relatively bulky; petiole with a blunt crest in profile; body without or with tangled hairs => 3

Body pilosity long and tangled; funiculi relatively nonclavate; comparable to murphyi but with pilosity much less matte and funiculi slightly more clavate => pogonogynus

Body pilosity of varying length, but relatively short and not tangled; funiculi relatively clavate => 4

Head relatively subquadrate and gaster relatively subelongate ; head pilosity relatively short and sparse; gaster and head usually concolorous with mesosoma => Lasius claviger × latipes (present with sympatry)

Head relatively quadrate and gaster relatively elongate; head pilosity relatively long and dense; gaster usually (and sometimes head) somewhat lighter than rest of body (or equivalently mesosoma) => latipes

Body usually mostly concolorous orange or light brown, sometimes with darker blotches => 6.

Body usually mostly darker, sometimes with lighter blotches => tbd

Body relatively elongate, with dense matte hairs; comparable to pogonogynus but with pilosity much more matte and funiculi slightly less clavate => murphyi

Body relatively subelongate, without dense matte hairs => 7

Gastral pilosity relatively long and dense across all tergites; funiculi relatively nonclavate; variable across regions => subumbratus

Gastral pilosity relatively short, light, and mostly at tergal edges; funiculi relatively clavate => 8

Almost entirely restricted to California; dark blotches often present, sometimes making entire body seem brownish => californicus

Elsewhere; relatively concolorous bright orange, usually without much darkening => 9

Restricted to mostly Southwest US; mesonotal pilosity relatively sparse => arizonicus

Relatively widespread; mesonotal pilosity relatively abundant => interjectus

to be continued

All provided photographs are hyperlinked for credit. Distribution data is based on AntMaps.

Publicado el junio 12, 2022 03:05 MAÑANA por arman_ arman_ | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de junio de 2022


Just a list of helpful keys (and related resources) in alphabetical order that I'll update over time. Feel free to make any suggestions.



Key to Aphaenogaster species in the southeastern US
Especially helpful for the fulva-rudis-texana complex.
Review of the Aphaenogaster splendida Species-Group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
Includes a queen key!



Camponotus of the Eastern Seaboard | Worker Key


A taxonomic study of the Brazilian turtle ants (Formicidae: Myrmicinae: Cephalotes)


Taxonomy in the phylogenomic era: species boundaries and phylogenetic relationships among North American ants of the Crematogaster scutellaris group (Formicidae: Hymenoptera)



Key to Dorymyrmex species in or possible in MS and AL
smithi should refer to medeis due to their ranges.



A tentative key to workers in the Formica sanguinea species group
Key to Nearctic Formica fusca group workers
Key to Nearctic species in the Formica rufa group
All included species are now members of the integra group.
Key to New England Formica
Key to US Formica pallidefulva group species
Which happens to be all of them.



Additions to the taxonomy of Gnamptogenys Roger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ectatomminae) with an updated key to the New World species
Includes all species that were included in the genus at the time of publishing; some are now placed in Alfaria, Holcoponera, and Poneracantha.



Key to Hypoponera species in the southeastern United States



Tentative Key to Nearctic Parasitic Lasius Queens
Currently incomplete, but covers most common ones with considerable orange coloration.



Key to species of Nylanderia in the southeastern United States



The systematics and biology of the New World ants of the genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
Some species included in the keys have been moved to other genera, such as Neoponera.


Identifying Small Southeastern Pheidole species
Key to Pheidole crassicornis group
Key to Pheidole species in the southeastern United States
Includes this undescribed crassicornis group species.


Key to Polyrhachis of India
Key to Polyrhachis (Polyrhachis) species


Key to Ponera species in the southeastern United States
Includes queens.


Key to Proceratium species in the southeastern United States


Key to species of Pseudomyrmex workers (except P. leptosus of which worker is unknown) in the southeastern United States



Key to Solenopsis species in the southeastern United States


The ant genus Strumigenys Smith, 1860 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in western North America north of Mexico



Key to Tetramorium species in the southeastern United States


Key to US Trachymyrmex
Includes those now under Mycetomoellerius.

Publicado el junio 4, 2022 08:48 TARDE por arman_ arman_ | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

30 de mayo de 2022

Some information on the Aphaenogaster fulva-rudis-texana complex

The fulva-rudis-texana complex of Aphaenogaster has been problematic for quite a while now, and the species can be tricky to distinguish from one another. It includes a number of undescribed species which are not shown on iNaturalist, but are listed on AntWiki. Until now, I have been distinguishing picea and rudis mostly by funicular and overall coloration, but @aaron567 has shown me a key which is far more reliable for telling the entire (described) complex apart along with a couple other species in the genus. It can be accessed here, provided by the Mississippi Entomological Museum of Mississippi State University. Personally, I definitely have some IDs to go back on and revise, and I suggest others check out the key and use it for their IDs. Some of the complex's species are definitely not monophyletic and show a ton of variance outside of their keyable features as they are currently defined, especially rudis and picea, so expect to see wildly different individuals key out to the same species. For one, I was shocked to find out that the large black Aphaenogaster I frequently observe are likely all rudis, even though I have found a smaller and more colorful species that would also key to rudis. See below for some of the absurd phylogeny, sourced here.

Publicado el mayo 30, 2022 05:49 TARDE por arman_ arman_ | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

15 de enero de 2022

Dedicated observation field for queens.

@peterslingsby @mettcollsuss @ponerinecat @aaron567 @hormiguel @jimw3 @louis_raginwulf @clurarit @stevenw12339 @froggy143 @mayconu7 @oneanttofew @umueller @ntwebb @haplodiploid @markayers @myrmecophil @nmain @reignofrage @aprothero @cheetolord02 @sirduckington

Hi all, sorry for tagging a bunch, I just want most of the active ant identifiers to get to see this (feel free to notify others if I missed any). There really hasn't been a consistent way to mark queen observations, besides using one of the few observation fields with some mention of queens, or tags. I feel like it'd be better to standardize this, so I created the field Gyne(s) present?. It's a simple Yes/No, in which the "No" is pretty redundant. I suppose "No" can be helpful to specify on observations where someone thinks a major/other worker is a queen, when it is not, but I expect it won't be used much. The field defaults to "Yes" when selected, so you can pretty quickly assign it to observations with queens. A few hundred observations have been added so far, and hopefully more soon. Of course, what's the point of logging queens if you can't search through the logs, so here is how you can look through it:

  1. Go to the observation field's page
  2. Select "Yes" (mostly unnecessary since the vast majority will be "Yes" anyway, but for consistency you can)
  3. Scroll down to and select "View more search options" (you can just copy this link); there's another method but I want to keep this relatively succinct
  4. Type in whatever taxon (and/or location) you want, and view queen observations :)
    For example, here are Camponotus queens

As of 2/2/22 I have found out that you can simply add the text &field:gyne(s) present?=yes to the end of any observations link and that'll accomplish the same job.
e.g. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?user_id=arman_&verifiable=any to https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?user_id=arman_&verifiable=any&field:gyne(s) present?=yes
If you want to look at everything in the project, simply swap the & for a ? (first parameter is always a ?) and put that over inaturalist.org/observations

I used the term gyne, which I believe means it can be validly used for all eusocial insects, so feel free to do that if you want; I added some Bombus and Vespidae observations of my own (maybe worth showing some of the other Hymenopteran identifiers?). I'm open to any criticism with the field too; maybe there's a way to reduce redundancy, but for now I think it'll be effective. When using the Identify tab, observation fields can be selected under "Annotations" to the right of "Info" on each observation you go through. I'm still looking for a way to go through IDs I've made with the comment "queen/rainha/reina" etc., to add to the field, so if anyone has ideas for that it'd also help.1 For observations with a keyword mentioned in the tags or description, you can type the keyword under "Description / Tags" under Observations or Identify. Hope this helps and wasn't too wordy, feel free to ask questions if there's any confusion.

1 The https://www.inaturalist.org/comments may be helpful for this, so big thanks to @oneanttofew for bringing that up. I'm currently trying to figure out if this can be used for comments attached to IDs.

Publicado el enero 15, 2022 10:49 TARDE por arman_ arman_ | 15 comentarios | Deja un comentario