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Brachymyrmex Overview

The genus Brachymyrmex is in the subfamily Formicinae, a subfamily characterized by lack of a sting and presence of an acidopore. The acidopore is a small circular opening at the tip of the abdomen, often surmounted by a fringe of hairs, that acts as a nozzle from which workers spray formic acid (Bolton 1994). Brachymyrmex are among the smallest members of the subfamily. The genus contains about 40 described species, most from tropical America (Bolton 1995). One species is widespread in North America, and a few are "tramp" species, widely distributed by human commerce, and all the rest are from the Neotropics and southern South America.

In Neotropical forests the common species of Brachymyrmex nest in a variety of small plant cavities, under epiphytes, or in the leaf litter. They seem quite generalized in choice of nest site, and the nests can be in relatively fragile or ephemeral substrates, suggesting frequent nest movement.

The tiny workers are like motes that run around in tropical forests. They are never competitive dominants but instead seem able to dart in and out at resources, even in the presence of larger ants of other species. They seem to feed mainly at carbohydrate sources, being common at extrafloral nectaries and at sugar water baits. Some species are known to tend Coccoidea (scale insects and relatives) in underground chambers (Wheeler 1910, Santschi 1923).

The last taxonomic revision was Santschi (1923). Taxonomic knowledge of the genus is very limited and species boundaries not well established.

Literature Cited

Bolton, B. 1994. Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Bolton, B. 1995. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Kempf, W. W. 1972. Catálogo abreviado das formigas da regičo Neotropical. Studia Entomologica 15:3-344.

Santschi, F. 1923. Revue des fourmis du genre Brachymyrmex Mayr. Anales del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Buenos Aires (La Plata) 31:650-678.

Wheeler, W. M. 1910. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. Columbia University Press, New York.

Page author: John T. Longino longinoj@evergreen.edu

Date of this version: 14 July 2004.
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