Nylanderia pubens

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Nylanderia pubens
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Plagiolepidini
Genus: Nylanderia
Species: N. pubens
Binomial name
Nylanderia pubens
(Forel, 1893)

Paratrechina pubens casent0104251 profile 1.jpg

Paratrechina pubens casent0104251 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

This ant belongs to a species complex that contains a number of morphologically similar species.

Identification

Good luck! As per Gotzek et al (2012), the genus Nylanderia has a long history of taxonomic uncertainty in North America largely due to a lack of distinctive morphological characters in the worker caste (also see the biology section below).

Distribution

Possibly restricted to the Caribbean region.

This taxon was described from Antilles.

Check distribution from AntMaps.

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Check specimen data from AntWeb

Biology

The following text and map are from Gotzek et al. (2012). References that were indicated but removed from the text are stated in the original publication:

There has been widespread misidentification of Nylanderia fulva. Within museum collections, misidentifications are common given the morphological similarities of the workers within the genus overall, as well as because of uncertainties regarding species boundaries.

Given the uncertainty of workerbased identifications of N. fulva and N. pubens most publications that involve either of these species are suspect; they may not involve the species listed in the publication, including the possibility that they are neither N. fulva nor N. pubens and are an entirely different Nylanderia species. It appears at this time that N. pubens is restricted to the Caribbean region. This species has been reported to be relatively to be relatively common in southern Florida in the 1950’s –1970’s, where it was also most recently found in 1994 (M. Deyrup, pers. comm. to JSL). It is not known whether these populations still persist today. Since we show that samples from northern Florida initially considered to be N. cf. pubens are actually N. fulva and given the invasive nature of N. fulva, we hypothesize that most or even all alleged occurrences of N. pubens in Florida are misidentified N. fulva. This would not be surprising, since the distribution is solely based on worker identifications (D. Oi, pers. comm. to DG). We also suspect that N. pubens may not have good invasive capabilities compared to N. fulva, given the currently rapidly expanding distribution of N. fulva in the United States and lack of N. pubens in our samples from northern Florida. It will require much better sampling of molecular data or male samples from throughout Florida to test our hypothesis. Currently, the Caribbean is likely the only place where N. fulva and N. pubens are sympatric and therefore the only region where identifications of workers will be difficult. If we are correct concerning the distribution and inability of N. pubens to become a pest, then the population explosions attributed to N. pubens that plagued the Caribbean from 19th century Bermuda to the recent outbreak on St. Croix and in southern Florida may very well have been N. fulva instead of N. pubens. Nylanderia fulva is known to be an invasive ant, most recently from Colombia where an outbreak occurred after this species was apparently introduced to control leafcutter ants and venomous snakes.

Castes

Nomenclature

The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • pubens. Prenolepis fulva r. pubens Forel, 1893g: 338 (w.q.m.) ANTILLES. Combination in Paratrechina (Nylanderia): Emery, 1925b: 222; in Nylanderia: Kempf, 1972a: 167; in Paratrechina: Trager, 1984b: 143; in Nylanderia: LaPolla, Brady & Shattuck, 2010a: 127. Junior synonym of fulva: Creighton, 1950a: 406. Revived from synonymy and raised to species: Trager, 1984b: 143.

Description

References

The following references are based on the 2007 CD version of the New General Catalogue.

  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 406, Junior synonym of fulva)
  • Emery, C. 1925d. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Formicinae. Genera Insectorum 183: 1-302 (page 222, Combination in Paratrechina (Nylanderia))
  • Forel, A. 1893j. Formicides de l'Antille St. Vincent, récoltées par Mons. H. H. Smith. Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 1893: 333-418 (page 338, worker, queen, male described)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1972b. Catálogo abreviado das formigas da regia~o Neotropical. Stud. Entomol. 15: 3-344 (page 167, Combination in Nylanderia)
  • Trager, J. C. 1984b. A revision of the genus Paratrechina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the continental United States. Sociobiology 9: 49-162 (page 143, Combination in Paratrechina)
  • Trager, J. C. 1984b. A revision of the genus Paratrechina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the continental United States. Sociobiology 9: 49-162 (page 143, Revived from synonymy, and raised to species)

Additional References

  • Gotzek, D., S. G. Brady, R. J. Kallal, and J. S. LaPolla. 2012. The Importance of Using Multiple Approaches for Identifying Emerging Invasive Species: The Case of the Rasberry Crazy Ant in the United States. PLoS ONE. 7:e45314. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0045314
  • Kallal, R.J. & LaPolla, J.S. 2012. Monograph of Nylanderia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the World, Part II: Nylanderia in the Nearctic. Zootaxa 3508, 1-64.
  • Valles, S.M., Oi, D.H., Yu, F., Tan, X.-X. & Buss, E.A. 2012. Metatranscriptomics and Pyrosequencing Facilitate Discovery of Potential Viral Natural Enemies of the Invasive Caribbean Crazy Ant, Nylanderia pubens. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31828 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031828).
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