Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Trap-jaw ants spreading in southeastern United States

Date:
June 18, 2014
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Trap-jaw ant species are active hunters with venomous stings and jaws powerful enough to fling themselves through the air. According to new research, they are also spreading into new territory in the southeastern United States. A new paper is designed to help scientists identify which species of trap-jaw ants they're dealing with. While the paper draws on previously published research, it also includes new findings.

Odontomachus relictus.
Credit: Magdalena Sorger

Trap-jaw ant species are active hunters with venomous stings and jaws powerful enough to fling themselves through the air. According to new research, they are also spreading into new territory in the southeastern United States. The research was done by scientists at North Carolina State University, the Mississippi Entomological Museum, the University of California, Davis and Archbold Biological Station.

"The fact that some of these species are spreading is interesting, in part, because these giant ants have managed to expand their territory without anyone noticing," says Magdalena Sorger, a Ph.D. candidate at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the ant species. "We know very little about these ants, including how they interact with native ant species in the areas they're invading."

The new paper offers a broad overview of trap-jaw ant species -- all of which are in the genus Odontomachus -- in the United States. The paper is designed to help scientists identify which species of trap-jaw ants they're dealing with. While the paper draws on previously published research, it also includes new findings.

The paper is the first scientific article establishing the presence of the species O. haematodus in the United States. Native to South America, haematodus was first unofficially recorded in Alabama in 1956. But the researchers found that the species has now spread across the Gulf Coast, at least as far east as Pensacola, Florida.

"Haemotodus is particularly interesting because it is larger and more aggressive than other trap-jaw ants in the United States," Sorger says.

The researchers also found that O. ruginodis has been expanding its territory.

As recently as a few years ago, ruginodis was thought to be confined to the Orlando region, and points south. "I found ruginodis in landscaped areas near buildings -- outside a mall, outside my hotel -- usually in the mulch underneath hedges," Sorger says. But now Sorger has confirmed a record of ruginodis more than a hundred miles north of Orlando, in Gainesville. "The species could have traveled even farther than Gainesville, but no one has looked for it."

But not all of the trap-jaw species are on the move. Sorger also studies O. relictus, a species that is found only in endangered scrub habitat on central Florida's ancient sand ridges.

Sorger found that relictus ants on separate ridges displayed different behaviors and had distinct genetic profiles -- indicating that they may have evolved into separate species.

"If these two O. relictus populations are, in fact, distinct species, it would make them the rarest ants in North America," Sorger says. "I'm hoping to resolve this question soon, via more genetic analyses."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. The original article was written by Matt Shipman. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joe A. MacGown, BRENDON BOUDINOT, Mark Deyrup, D. Magdalena Sorger. A review of the Nearctic Odontomachus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae) with a treatment of the males. Zootaxa, 2014; 3802 (4): 515 DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3802.4.7

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Trap-jaw ants spreading in southeastern United States." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618111807.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2014, June 18). Trap-jaw ants spreading in southeastern United States. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618111807.htm
North Carolina State University. "Trap-jaw ants spreading in southeastern United States." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618111807.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins