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Biology

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Natural History:

This is a widespread tropical tramp species, introduced throughout the world. Its native range is unknown. It is ubiquitous in non-airconditioned dwellings anywhere in the lowland tropics. Regardless of whether you are in Guinea, New Guinea, or Guyana, if you are sitting at a table with a sugar dispenser you are likely to see workers of T. melanocephalum running about on the surface. They always seem to be able to find their way into the sugar container, and sugar on tropical tables always contains some non-negligible fraction of T. melanocephalum workers. When you put a spoonful of sugar in your drink, you can judge the level of contamination by how many workers are left floating on the surface.

In quantitative biodiversity surveys, this species often has to be excluded from data analysis because the laboratory where samples are processed contains T. melanocephalum as a pest, and contamination of samples occurs.

Although most often found in houses, they can also move out into surrounding vegetation in highly disturbed and highly insolated habitats, opportunistically nesting in small plant cavities. Nests readily relocate, and overnight they can move into a shoe or an umbrella left on a porch.

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Distribution

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One record from Wallonia, only indoors
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Taxonomic Treatment

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Forel, A., 1893:
(No. 16 a). [[ worker ]] et [[ queen ]]. Espece cosmopolite des tropiques.
(16). Common about houses at Kingstown, and at Georgetown. Its white abdomen and quick, jerky walk give it a very peculiar appearance. The formicarium is small, consisting apparently of a single chamber, in a cavity of a wall, or under a stone. There may be fifty or more workers in the colony.
(16 a). Near Kingstown; shady place on a hill-side near sea-level. Small nest in rubbish lodged between two stones.
(Found also at Georgetown, on the windward coast).

Emery, C., 1893:
- Colombo.

Forel, A., 1912:
[[ worker ]] [[ queen ]]. Seychelles: Silhouette, Mare aux Cochons, 1000 pieds.

Espadaler, X., 2007:
(*) (41, w). Running workers were detected in irrigated gardens next to recently built bungalows. This is the first record for El Hierro of this well known tramp species.

Ward, P. S., 2005:
I [introduced species]

Forel, A., 1895:
- Cosmopolite.

Wild, A. L., 2007:
Central, Concepción (ALWC, INBP). [* = species not native to Paraguay]

Forel, A., 1908:
[[ worker ]] L. 1,5 a 1,8 mill. Tres semblable au melanocephalum F. et a l´ indicum Forel, mais il en differe comme suit: Mandibules a bord terminal court, arme de 6 a 7 dents. Les scapes depassent fortement le bord occipital, au moins autant que chez le melanocephalum (chez l´ indicum ils ne le depassent pas). Les palpes sont assez courts et ne sont pas dilates (longs et dilates chez le melanocephalum ). Le thorax n'a aucune echancrure; son dos est continu (un peu echancre chez le melanocephalum ). La face declive est tronquee net, obliquement, comme chez le melanocephalum ; bord anterieur de l'epistome entier, ou peu s'en faut. Tete et thorax subopaques, moins luisants que chez le melanocephalum .
Tete (sauf les antennes et les mandibules), metathorax, parfois le pronotum, cotes du thorax, une tache au bord de chaque segment abdominal et le pygidium bruns (la tete d'un brun fonce). Tout le reste d'un jaune pale.
Puntarenas, cote Pacifique de Costa Bica (Biolley), Jamaique (moi-meme), etc.
La place de cette variete est un peu douteuse. Je la rattache provisoirement au melanocephalum .
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Diagnostic Description

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I [introduced species]

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bibliographic citation
Ward, P. S., 2005, A synoptic review of the ants of California (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa, pp. 1-68, vol. 936
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Ward, P. S.
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Diagnostic Description

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(*) (41, w). Running workers were detected in irrigated gardens next to recently built bungalows. This is the first record for El Hierro of this well known tramp species.

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bibliographic citation
Espadaler, X., 2007, The ants of El Hierro (Canary Islands)., Advances in ant systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Homage to E.O. Wilson - 50 years of contributions., pp. 113-127
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Espadaler, X.
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Diagnostic Description

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Central, Concepción (ALWC, INBP). [* = species not native to Paraguay]

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Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa, pp. 1-55, vol. 1622
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Wild, A. L.
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Diagnostic Description

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- Colombo.

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Emery, C., 1893, Voyage de M. E. Simon à l'île de Ceylan (janvier - février 1892). 3e Mémoire. Formicides., Annales de la Société Entomologique de France, pp. 239-258, vol. 62
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Emery, C.
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Diagnostic Description

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(No. 16 a). [[ worker ]] et [[ queen ]]. Espece cosmopolite des tropiques.

(16). Common about houses at Kingstown, and at Georgetown. Its white abdomen and quick, jerky walk give it a very peculiar appearance. The formicarium is small, consisting apparently of a single chamber, in a cavity of a wall, or under a stone. There may be fifty or more workers in the colony.

(16 a). Near Kingstown; shady place on a hill-side near sea-level. Small nest in rubbish lodged between two stones.

(Found also at Georgetown, on the windward coast).

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bibliographic citation
Forel, A., 1893, Formicides de l'Antille St. Vincent. Récoltées par Mons. H. H. Smith., Transactions of the Entomological Society of London, pp. 333-418, vol. 1893
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Forel, A.
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Diagnostic Description

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- Cosmopolite.

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Forel, A., 1895, Nouvelles fourmis de diverses provenances, surtout d'Australie., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique, pp. 41-49, vol. 39
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Forel, A.
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Diagnostic Description

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[[ worker ]] [[ queen ]]. Seychelles: Silhouette, Mare aux Cochons, 1000 pieds.

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Forel, A., 1912, The Percy Sladen Trust Expedition to the Indian Ocean in 1905, under the leadership of Mr. J. Stanley Gardiner, M.A. Volume 4, No. 11. Fourmis des Seychelles et des Aldabras, reçues de M. Hugh Scott., Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology, pp. 159-167, vol. (2)15
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Tapinoma melanocephalum

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Tapinoma melanocephalum is a species of ant that goes by the common name ghost ant. They are recognised by their dark head and pale or translucent legs and gaster (abdomen). This colouring makes this tiny ant seem even smaller.

Description

"
Zoomed up photo of a ghost ant worker, taken from a site in East London

The ghost ant is small, with average lengths ranging between 1.3 to 2.0 millimetres (0.051 to 0.079 in) in workers.[1] The antennae composes of 12 segments that thickens towards the tip.[2] The antennal scapes exceeds the occipital border. The head and thorax is a dark brown colour while the gaster, legs and antennae are a milky white colour.[2][1] Due to its small size and light colour, the ghost ant is difficult to see.[3] Ghost ants are monomorphic and the thorax is spineless.[2] The gaster is hairless, and has a back opening that is similar to a slit-like opening.[3] The abdominal pedicel is formed upon a single segment that is usually unable to be seen due to the gaster, and the species do not contain a stinger.[2] During development, this species undergoes three larval instars, which are all naked and fusiform, with reduced mouthparts.[4]

The queens are similar in appearance to a worker, but the alitrunk (mesosoma) is enlarged. The queen measures 2.5 millimetres (0.098 in) in length, making them the largest member of the colony. The males head and dorsum is dark in colour, while the gaster is light in that may contain several dark marks. They are usually 2.0 millimetres (0.079 in) in length.[1]

Distribution and habitat

Due to how widespread the ghost ant is, the exact native range is not exactly known.[5] However, the species is assumed to originate from the African or Oriental regions, seeing it is a tropical species.[6] This has been proven considering the ghost ant cannot adapt to colder climates and are only confined to greenhouses and buildings that provide considerable conditions that allows the species to thrive, although a colony of ghost ants was discovered in an apartment block in Canada.[7] One report has even stated the presence of ghost ants in isolated regions, with a colony being found in the Galapagos Islands.[8] The ant is found in 154 geographical areas.[9]

The species is a common pest in the United States, particularly in the states of Hawaii and Florida, although the species is expanding further north, even reaching Texas by the mid 1990s.[10] They are commonly found in the southern parts of Florida, and is considered a key pest, along with several other invasive ant species.[11] The earliest record of the ghost ant in the United States was in 1887, where the species was found in Hawaii.[12] It was then recorded in Washington, D.C. in 1894.[13] After these two records, the ghost ant would later be found in Maine, New York, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.[9][14] Ghost ants can be found in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.[15]

References

  1. ^ a b c Collingwood, C.A. (1979). "The Formicidae (Hymenoptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark". Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica. 8: 1–174. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Creighton, W.S. (1950). "The ants of North America". Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. 104: 1–585. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Eric H.; Whitman, Richard C. (1992). NPCA Field Guide to Structural Pests. Dunn Loring, Virginia: National Pest Control Association.
  4. ^ Jesus, Carlos Massuretti De; Fox, Eduardo Gonçalves Paterson; Solis, Daniel Russ; Yabuki, Antonio Teruyoshi; Rossi, Monica Lanzoni; Bueno, Odair Correa (June 2010). "Description of the Larvae of Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)". Florida Entomologist. 93 (2): 243–247. doi:10.1653/024.093.0214. ISSN 0015-4040.
  5. ^ Smith, Marion R. (1965). "House-infesting ants of the eastern United States : their recognition, biology, and economic importance". Technical Bulletin No. 1326. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture: 72. OCLC 6078460. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  6. ^ Wheeler, William M. (1910). "Ants; their structure, development and behavior". Columbia Biological Series. New York, Columbia University Press. 9: 578–648. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.1937. OCLC 560205. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  7. ^ Ayre, G.L. (1977). "Exotic ants in Winnipeg, Manitoba". Entomologist. 11: 4111–4144.
  8. ^ Clark, David B.; Guayasamin, Concepcion; Pazmino, Olga; Donoso, Cecilia; de Villacis, Yolanda Paez (September 1982). "The Tramp Ant Wasmannia auropunctata: Autecology and Effects on Ant Diversity and Distribution on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos" (PDF). Biotropica. 14 (3): 196. doi:10.2307/2388026. JSTOR 2388026. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b Wetterer, James K. (2012). "Worldwide spread of the ghost ant, Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)". Myrmecological News. 12: 23–33. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  10. ^ Chenault, E.A. (1997). "Ghost ants now in Texas". Texas AgriLife Research News. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  11. ^ Klotz, J.H.; Mangold, J.R.; Vail, K.M.; Davis Jr, L.R.; Patterson, R.S. (1995). "A survey of the urban pest ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of peninsular Florida". Florida Entomologist. 78 (1): 109–118. doi:10.2307/3495674. JSTOR 3495674.
  12. ^ Blackburn, T; Cameron, P. (1887). "On the Hymenoptera of the Hawaiian Islands". Memoirs of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. 10: 194–244.
  13. ^ Pergande, Theo (1896). "Mexican Formicidae". Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. 5 (2): 858–896.
  14. ^ King, R.L. (1948). "A tropical ant temporarily established in Iowa". Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science. 55: 395.
  15. ^ Forel, Auguste H. (1881). "Die Ameisen der Antille St. Thomas". Mitteilungen der Münchener Entomologischen Verein. 5: 1–16.

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Tapinoma melanocephalum: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

Tapinoma melanocephalum is a species of ant that goes by the common name ghost ant. They are recognised by their dark head and pale or translucent legs and gaster (abdomen). This colouring makes this tiny ant seem even smaller.

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