Crematogaster vermiculata

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Crematogaster vermiculata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Crematogaster
Species: C. vermiculata
Binomial name
Crematogaster vermiculata
Emery, 1895

Crematogaster vermiculata casent0103810 profile 1.jpg

Crematogaster vermiculata casent0103810 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


The ant is found in but is not confined to cypress trees. It will utilize various hardwoods and shrubs close to standing water. I have several sizable nest series and all individuals of each colony express the C. vermiculata characters. (Johnson 1988)

Photo Gallery

  • A Crematogaster vermiculata worker investigates a head capsule attached to a nestmate's antenna. Tucson, Arizona. Photo by Ajay Narendra.


Johnson 1988 - A reticulate pattern of ridges on thoracic dorsum gives a wrinkled, rugose texture, the most conspicuous sculpture in eastern species. Pubescence of head, thorax and gaster appressed, typical thoracic pubescence sparse. One or two fine, erect hairs on each humeral shoulder of pronotum. Propodeal spines short, SL/DB < 1.0; in dorsal view, outer and inner spine margins converge to direct apices straight to the rear; in lateral view, spine shape variable but apices directed obliquely upward. As with other species, the Florida specimens are typically blackish with bicolored specimens occurring northward.

Morgan & Mackay (2017) - Crematogaster vermiculata Emery as its name implies, is very vermiculate on the dorsal surface of the mesosoma. Creighton (1950) made C. vermiculata a subspecies of Crematogaster coarctata Mayr, but indicated that more research was needed to confirm that change in taxonomic status. Buren (1968) raised C. vermiculata to species in his key of North American Crematogaster. We concur that C. vermiculata is a valid species. Creighton’s placement of C. vermiculata as a subspecies of C. coarctata is understandable because they are very much alike. They can be distinguished by a couple of characters. The head of C. vermiculata is very shiny with faint areolate between the eyes above the clypeus all the way back and around the posterior border of head while C. coarctata is striate-punctate all over the face to the back of the posterior border of head. The pronotum of C. vermiculata is slightly flattened coming to corners along the lateral margins while C. coarctata has a rounded pronotum, both viewed from above and from the front. The vermiculate sculpturing is somewhat variable, blending with punctures on both species making the pronotal sculpturing not a great character to use for distinguishing these two species.

Crematogaster vermiculata can be confused with C. lineolata, but they can be easily separated as C. vermiculata has few or no erect hairs on the pronotum whereas the hairs are abundant on the pronotum of C. lineolata.

Note that MacGown (pers. comm., in Morgan & Mackay, 2017) suggests that the form found in southeastern United States may not be the same species as C. vermiculata (type locality in California) as the southeastern form is always found near wet areas such as swamps, seeps and creeks, and never nests in the soil.

Crematogaster colei

It is likely this form is not conspecific with C. vermiculata. It can be separated as follows (Buren, 1968): This is a well defined species although it is without any especially distinctive features in the worker which allow it to be immediately recognized without a little study. The angulate appearance of the hemilobes behind in profile is characteristic but is also possessed in some degree by the related Crematogaster opuntiae, Crematogaster californica, and Crematogaster depilis, and also by the larger specimens of several other species. With a little study it may be separated from californica and opuntiae by the longer and somewhat differently shaped scapes, and the differently shaped head and petiole, and fromdepilis by the longer scapes, less flattened and more slender pro-mesonotum in the smaller workers, darker color, and the presence of thoracic hairs in at least some specimens. They also live in different habitats. The distinctive characters of the female show that it must be separate from both californica and depilis.

Crematogaster opuntiae

It is likely this form is not conspecific with C. vermiculata. It can be separated as follows (Buren, 1968): This species is very similar to Crematogaster californica, differing mainly in its shorter pubescence which is entirely appressed on head and scapes. The sculpturing, especially on the hind portions of the head, is weaker, and the colors are nearly always dark in life. C. californica is never associated with cactus so far as I have been able to determine. Since the two forms differ in both ecology and morphology, and their ranges seem to be separated by an impenetrable barrier, I have chosen to regard them as distinct species.

Mackay and Mackay (2002) - This species can be recognized by a single pair of hairs on the pronotal shoulder, and usually no other erect hairs on the dorsum of the mesosoma. The head is mostly shiny, the mesosoma coarsely punctate. The hemilobes of the postpetiole are blunt posteriorly. The pubescence on the head and scapes is mostly appressed.

Keys including this Species


Johnson 1988 - Occurs through the Coastal Plain from North Carolina into Florida south at least into Marion County. Records are currently unavailable in northwest Florida but it has been reported from Louisiana and Arkansas.

Morgan & Mackay (2017) - Crematogaster vermiculata is found along the Pacific coast of California east to Fairfax Co., Virginia (Kjar, 2009), North Carolina (Menke, et al., 2011; Guénard et al., 2012, 2014; Resasco et al., 2014), Tennessee (Davis and Zigler, 2012), Florida (Deyrup, 2017), Alabama (Forster, 2003; MacGown and Forster, 2005) and Louisiana (Parys et al., 2012) south to Baja California, México (Johnson and Ward, 2002, as C. rossi) to central México.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Morgan & Mackay (2017) - Crematogaster vermiculata nearly always nests in the soil, occasionally with a small mound, or under stones (Mackay and Mackay, unpublished). Menke, et al. (2011) found that C. vermiculata prefers to nest in wood and leaf litter, under stones and in dead tree limbs on a variety of desert substrates such as halophytic soil, clay and sandy beaches. In the southeastern United States, they are found only nesting in cypress trees in swamps (MacGown, pers. comm.)

Brood were found in nests in April, May, June, September, sexuals in September (Mackay and Mackay, unpublished). Workers forage loose on ground and on vegetation. In arid sites, they are often found on cholla (Opuntia bigelovii, as well as other cactus species) (Mackay and Mackay, unpublished). They occasionally nest together with the ant Monomorium sp. and crickets (Myrmecophila sp.) are found in nests (Mackay and Mackay, unpublished).

Crematogaster vermiculata can be found in desert scrub (mesquite and cactus, junipers, Acacia and grass), grasslands (Bouteloua spp.), pinyon juniper forests, oak forest, alligator bark juniper/white oak forest, cottonwood riparian areas, deciduous forests, pine and fir forest, Apache and Chihuahua pines and burned forest (Mackay and Mackay, unpublished). It was reported from Lehman’s love grass and native grass communities (Whitford et al., 1999, as C. opuntiae). In general, they do not do well in disturbed areas as they nest in logs, which are not available in such sites (Menke, et al. (2011). They can adapt to urban ecosystems (Guénard et al., 2014).

Nests are found in red clay, dark brown sandy loam, brown rocky loam, light brown rocky sand and in sand (Mackay and Mackay, unpublished).

Crematogaster vermiculata population increase with an increase in growing degree days (warming of habitat) (Pelini et al., 2014).

Deyrup (2017) includes details on the biology and distribution of this species as well as comparisons with other species occurring in Florida.





The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • vermiculata. Crematogaster vermiculata Emery, 1895c: 286 (w.) U.S.A.
    • Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1960b: 13 (l.).
    • Combination in C. (Acrocoelia): Emery, 1922e: 141.
    • Combination in C. (Crematogaster): Buren, 1968b: 91.
    • Subspecies of coarctata: Creighton, 1950a: 209.
    • Revived status as species: Buren, 1968b: 91 (in key); Johnson, C. 1988: 323.
    • Senior synonym of colei, opuntiae, rossi: Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 396.
    • Material of the nomen nudum coachellai referred here by Brown, 1949a: 48.
  • colei. Crematogaster (Crematogaster) colei Buren, 1968b: 108 (w.q.) U.S.A.
    • Junior synonym of vermiculata: Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 396.
  • opuntiae. Crematogaster (Crematogaster) opuntiae Buren, 1968b: 120 (w.) U.S.A.
    • Junior synonym of vermiculata: Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 396.
  • rossi. Crematogaster (Crematogaster) rossi Buren, 1968b: 111 (w.q.) MEXICO.
    • Junior synonym of vermiculata: Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 396.

Type Material

Crematogaster colei

Holotype worker and paratype workers and females from Wooten, New Mexico. They are labeled “Wooten, Sacramento Mts., N.M., 7500 ft., July 4, 1917, Wheeler.” The holotype and several paratypes will be deposited in the National Museum and others will be sent to the Cornell Univ. collection. I also have seen a number of paratype workers from each of the following stations: Montezuma Pass, Huachuca Mts., Ariz.- 6600 feet, under stone in oak-pinyon forest. Cottonwood Cany. Pass, Guadalupe Mts., New Mexico- 5800 feet, under stone, oak-pinyon forest. Miller Cany., Pic. Gr., Huachuca Mts., Ariz. - 6000 feet, oak-pinyon forest. Ash Cany., Huachuca Mts., Ariz.- 6500 ft., under stone, oak-pinyon forest. All of these collected by Dr. L. F. Byars. Numerous paratypes are also known from the following localities, all of these collected by Dr. A. C. Cole, Jr., 14 mi. west of Horse Springs, N. Mex., 7,350 ft., nest under stone in semidesert bordering yellow piue. Embudo, N. Mex., 5,850 ft. semidesert grassland, running on soil. Galesto, N. Mex., 6,050 ft., semidesert shrub area, nest under stone (specimens mixed with punctulata, possibly some sort of mixed colony?—or two nests under the same stone?) Seven miles west of Magdalena, N. Mex., 6,850 ft., nest under stone, semidesert grassland. I have also captured this species on a number of occasions, and have marked specimens from these localities as para types; near McDonald Observatory, Davis Mts., Texas, under rocks; 15 mi. N. of Ruidosa, N. Mex. under rocks in open pasture; and near Luna, N. Mex., in pinyon pine, juniper, grassland. Paratypes also will be sent to the Museum of Comparative Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, California Academy of Natural Sciences, and to the private collection of Dr. A. C. Cole, Univ. of Tennessee. I will retain paratypes from as many of the series as possible.

Crematogaster opuntiae

I have chosen a worker collected in the Santa Rita Experimental Range, near Continental, Ariz. to be the holotype, and this locality becomes the type locality.

The species is known to me from the following localities and specimens from these have been marked as para types: Santa Rita Experimental Range, E. of Continental, Ariz., several series, W. F. Buren; on route 89 in New Mexico close to Arizona border, Buren; 10 mi. E. of Benson, Ariz., Buren; in Texas Canyon E. of Benson, Ariz., Buren; 50 mi. E. of Ajo, Ariz. on Ajo Road, Buren; Saguaro National Monument, E. of Tucson, Ariz., Buren; Sill, Ariz., Buren; 5 mi. S. of Oracle Junction, Ariz., Wm. S. Creighton; near Papago Reservation Boundary on Ajo Road, Ariz., Buren; Portal, Ariz., Creighton and Buren; 30 mi. N. of Tucson, Buren; 15 mi. E. of Globe, Ariz., Buren; Organ Pipe Nat. Mon., Buren; Abra Wash, Organ Pipe Nat. Mon., Creighton; Benson, Ariz., W. M. Wheeler; and Tucson, Ariz., W. M. Wheeler.

Crematogaster rossi

I have before me the holotype worker and nineteen paratype workers and four paratype females from San Jose del Cabo, Baja California, and three paratype workers from Tepic, State of Nayarit, Mexico. Most of these will be returned to the U. S. National Museum but a few will be retained in my collecton. I also have seen a series of females from Triunfo, Baja California, and a single worker from Triunfo, Michelbacker and Ross, collectors.

Taxonomic Notes

Morgan & Mackay (2017) - We are considering C. colei Buren, C. opuntiae Buren and C. rossi Buren as junior synonyms of C. vermiculata. Some of the C. colei and C. opuntiae paratypes have shiny heads and the pronotum drops directly on the sides as in C. vermiculata. Paratype specimens of C. opuntiae are identical to the type material we have examined of C. vermiculata having the intense vermiculae with punctures and the pronotum that drops flatly along the sides, and have the very shiny head. Buren’s description of C. opuntiae describes the humeri as “not strongly developed, but nearly always distinct,” giving C. opuntiae the same general build as C. vermiculata. Crematogaster rossi Buren is also identical to C. vermiculata, and we believe if there had not been some confusion as to the type locality of C. vermiculata, C. rossi would not have been described.



  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1949a. Synonymic and other notes on Formicidae (Hymenoptera). Psyche (Camb.) 56: 41-49 (page 48, Material of the nomen nudum coachellai referred here)
  • Buren, W. F. 1968b. A review of the species of Crematogaster, sensu stricto, in North America (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Part II. Descriptions of new species. J. Ga. Entomol. Soc. 3: 91-121 (page 91, Combination in C. (Crematogaster), Revived status as species (in key))
  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 209, Subspecies of coarctata)
  • Emery, C. 1895d. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der nordamerikanischen Ameisenfauna. (Schluss). Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 257-360 (page 286, worker described)
  • Emery, C. 1922c. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [part]. Genera Insectorum 174B: 95-206 (page 141, Combination in C. (Acrocoelia))
  • Johnson, C. 1988. Species identification in the eastern Crematogaster (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Entomol. Sci. 23:314-332. (page 323, Revived status as species)
  • Morgan, C.E., Mackay, W.P. 2017. The North American Acrobat Ants of the hyperdiverse genus Crematogaster (Hymneoptera: Formicidae). Lambert Academic Publishing (PDF version, 532 pp.)
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1960b. Supplementary studies on the larvae of the Myrmicinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 62: 1-32 (page 13, larva described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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