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The biology of the thatching ant, Formica rufa obscuripes Forel, in North Dakota


, : The biology of the thatching ant, Formica rufa obscuripes Forel, in North Dakota. Ecol Monogr 5(2): 165-205

F. r. obscuripes, a widespread ant of western N. Amer., is found throughout X. Dakota, where the climate is such that the insect is active from April to Xov. A wide range of pl. and rainfall is tolerated. Relative humidities below 25% when coupled with pl. above 90[degree]F. cause a suspension of activities in direct sunshine. F. obscuripes establishes its colonies in para-boloidal thatch nests of about 8 in. in height and 2-4 ft. in diam. with many underground chambers extending to a depth of nearly 5 ft. An important feature of the nest is a large brood chamber in the center of the mound. From a representative colony 16,481 workers were taken. Those which escaped and the brood (cocoons and callows) may have numbered an additional 2,000. The natural food of obscuripes is derived mostly from insects and aphid secretions. Orthoptera formed 26% of all insects taken; Lepidoptera 22%; Coleoptera 17%; Hemiptera and Homoptera 12% each; Diptera 9%, and Hymenoptera 7%. Three species of ants used as food were collected: Lasius niger v. neoniger, Lasius umbratus mixtus v. aphidicola, and Myrmica scabrinodis sabuleti v. americana Weber (MS). Aphids of 3 genera were found tended by F. r. obscuripes workers on 7 plant species. Many myrmecophiles live with the colony; adults and larval Coleoptera and noctuid larvae as synoeketes; staphylinid beetles and the ant Leptothorax hirticornis as synechthrans and ectoparasitic mites. This ant appears to be largely beneficial.

US$19.90

DOI: 10.2307/1948521


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