The sole member of its genus, Pilotrochus besmerus is found in forest habitats in eastern Madagascar. It has typically been collected from litter samples and details about its biology are unknown.
As the only species in the genus, the generic diagnosis serves as a useful means of distinguishing this ant from others.
Brown (1960) - The relationships of Pilotrochus are obscure. The shape of the head, with its broad and deep scrobes and small ventrolateral eyes, recalls that of Dacetinops, or the Codiomyrmex group of Dacetini, or even Tatuidris, but Pilotrochus differs strongly from all of these in its 8-segmented antennae, in the form of its mandibles and their teeth, and in the form of its trunk and petiole. The lateral "hair wheel" organs are also striking, and so far as I am aware are unmatched among the ants, although the region of the ventral furrow between pro- and mesothorax is sometimes modified and apparently glandular in some dacetines and a few other myrmicines.
The 2-segmented antennal club, together with some points of habitus (especially coarse sculpture and long, flexuous pilosity, plus the antennal scrobes), recalls the neotropical genus Lachnomyrmex, but the shape of the trunk in Pilotrochus is completely different, the propodeal teeth so prominent in Lachnomyrmex are completely absent, and the mandibles in the two genera are very different.
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
Distribution based on AntMaps
Distribution based on AntWeb specimens
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Queens and males have been collected but have yet to be described.
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.
- besmerus. Pilotrochus besmerus Brown, 1978a: 221, figs. 1, 2 (w.) MADAGASCAR.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
Holotype: Total length (TL) 2.9, head length (HL) 0.68, head width (HW) 0.60, mandibles extend beyond median clypeal free margin (ML) 0.11 mm; when head is tilted back a little from full-face view, mandibles may extend beyond c1ypeus as much as 0.18 mm; trunk length (WL) 0.64, scape L (excluding radicle) 0.32, greatest length of eye 0.07 mm. Petiole length (chord of arc) 0.45, hind femur length 0.43, hind tibia length 0.34, hind tarsus length 0.60 mm, of which metatarsus is half. Details of form and sculpture are well shown in the figures. As seen in dorsal view, eyes hidden in full-face view, barely visible when head is tilted back slightly. Pronotum slightly broader than long
(width 0.38 mm), rounded in front, excised behind; mesonotum subquadratic, about 0.20 mm wide, with feebly convex borders on all four sides. Petiolar node 0.17 mm wide, postpetiolar node with rounded sides, slightly wider behind (width 0.21 mm, length 0.20 mm).
Pronotum smooth and shining, with about 10 costulae running longitudinally at different lengths; mesonotum with 5 longitudinal costulae on rugulae. About 5 longitudinal rugules each on petiolar and postpetiolar nodes, but weaker on the postpetiole, so that its disc is primarily smooth and shining like the gaster.
Hairs mostly a little less than 0.1 mm long on anterior head and scapes, a little more than 0.1 mm on posterior vertex; 0.15-0.25 on trunk, petiole, postpetiole and gaster, becoming shorter again at gastric apex; about 0.1 to about 0.3 mm on legs; flagelliform, many with tips reflexed or even looped back.
Holotype (Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University) a unique worker taken in a Berlese sample of forest humus and litter from along the road to Anosibe, 33 km south of Moramanga, in east central Madagascar, 4-12 April 1975 (A. Peyrieras).
The specific name besmerus combines the Latin 'bes' (eight of twelve) with the Greek 'meros' (part), in reference to the 8-segmented antennae as compared to the primitive myrmicine (and formicid) 12-merous condition.
- Brown, W. L., Jr. 1978a . An aberrant new genus of myrmicine ant from Madagascar. Psyche (Camb.) 84: 218-224 (page 221, figs. 1, 2 worker described)
- Fisher, B. L. 1997a. Biogeography and ecology of the ant fauna of Madagascar (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Nat. Hist. 31: 269-302 (see also)