Myrmicinae

Wheeler, W. M., 1922, The ants collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition., Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 45, pp. 39-269: 124-125

publication ID

20597

persistent identifier

http://treatment.plazi.org/id/04B7D014-1D4C-BB02-EDF7-7E91B4DD35B2

treatment provided by

Christiana

scientific name

Myrmicinae
status

 

Myrmicinae  HNS 

Worker monomorphic, dimorphic, or polymorphic, often very strongly so; the soldier form having a very large head and strong mandibles. Frontal carinae nearly always separated, rarely close together; divergent or slightly convergent behind and rarely lobed anteriorly; usually the clypeus is wedged in between the frontal carinae; in the Metaponini and a few other forms the clypeus is not prolonged back, its posterior margin being rounded. Antennae from 4- to 12-jointed, often with a distinct club. Ocelli frequently absent in the ordinary worker, though in strongly dimorphic species they may still be more or less distinct in the soldier. Pedicel formed by the petiole and the postpetiole; very rarely ( Melissotarsus  HNS  ) the postpetiole is nearly as wide as the basal segment of the gaster. Stridulatory organ usually present at the base of the gaster. Sting developed. Spurs of the middle and hind tibiae in the majority of cases simple or absent; pectinate in the Metaponini and Myrmicini only. Gizzard simple and tubular in most genera and of a very primitive type compared with the conditions in the Dolichoderinae, Camponotinae, and Pseudomyrminae.

Female usually winged and larger than the worker; in a few cases ergatoid; true dichthadiiform queens are not known, but in some parasitic genera ( Anergates  HNS  , Anergatides  HNS  ) the gaster of the fertile female becomes enormously distended.

Male usually with the copulatory armature partly exserted; entirely retractile in a few genera of the Solenopsidini only. Anal segment with cerci. In a few cases (as in certain species of Cardiocondyla  HNS  ) ergatoid, wingless males are known, sometimes together with winged individuals. Antennae almost always 13-jointed, even when the worker and female have very few antennal joints (11-jointed in Stereomyrmex  HNS  and Cataulacus  HNS  ; 12-jointed in Metapone  HNS  , certain Attini, Meranoplini, etc.).

The venation of the fore wing offers much diversity. In some genera the more primitive type is still retained, with a closed radial, two closed cubital cells, and a closed discoidal cell, but all degrees of reduction are met with. When there is only one cubital cell, the cubitus may be united with the radius by means of a long intercubitus(type of Solenopsis  HNS  ) or the intercubitus may disappear, the cubitus and radius being fused in a spot or for some distance (type of Formica  HNS  ).

Larva thick-bodied, orthocephalic, without exudatory papillae around the mouth. The body is, as a rule, abundantly covered with chitinous hairs of very different kinds; dorsal oncochaetae often present.

Nymphs never enclosed in a cocoon.

The Myrmicinae is the largest subfamily of ants, containing over 120 genera and many thousands of described species, races, and varieties, nearly as many as the other six subfamilies together. As would be expected, the taxonomic arrangement of this maze is exceedingly difficult and it is no wonder that such keen myrmecologists as Forel and Emery have not yet succeeded in reaching satisfactory results and are obliged to modify their views at every turn of the road. For practical and other reasons, have felt at liberty to change somewhat the classification proposed by Emery,1 though have followed him in the main. Have united the two tribes Solenopsidini and Pheidologetini, which pass repeatedly into each other and are merely separated by the shape of the radial cell (closed in the Pheidologetini; open in the Solenopsidini), a character the value of which seems to have been overrated by Emery. Have also accepted Forel's tribe Proattini and, furthermore, separated Stegomyrmex  HNS  from the Dacetini as an independent tribe. The very peculiar genus Archaeomyrmex, recently discovered by Mann in the Fiji Islands, must also constitute a distinct tribe, which I have provisionally placed between the Myrmecinini and Meranoplini.

The habits in this subfamily offer no less diversity than the structure. The majority of the species are carnivorous or partly so; but many others are granivorous, the most prominent in this respect being the members of Messor  HNS  and allied genera ( Novomessor  HNS  , Veromessor  HNS  , Oxyopomyrmex  HNS  , Pogonomyrmex  HNS  , many species of Pheidole  HNS  , etc.). In these ants the nest often contains spacious granaries full of seeds. Many myrmicine ants are attracted by sugary substances such as are furnished by the nectaries of flowers or various extrafloral plant organs. Often, also, they attend aphids, coccids, psyllids, or leafhoppers for the sake of the honeydew they excrete. The New World "leaf-cutting" or "fungusgrowing " ants of the tribe Attini feed exclusively on the food-bodies ("bromatia") producd by fungi cultivated in their nests. There are also many cases of social parasitism which, in its most extreme form, has lead to the disappearance of the worker caste ( Wheeleriella  HNS  , Epixenus  HNS  , Epipheidole  HNS  , Sympheidole  HNS  , Epaecus  HNS  , Anergates  HNS  , Anergatides  HNS  , and probably several other genera of which only males and females are known). Temporary social parasitism is probably the rule in some species of Aphaenogaster  HNS  and in the Malagasy and Indomalayan subgenus Oxygyne  HNS  of Crematogaster  HNS  .