A new Strumigenys species In Los Angeles?

Site of a possible new California Strumigenys ant species several species of Temnothorax.

Site of a possible new California Strumigenys ant species

The close association of Strumigenys ants with other ants seems to be greater than chance alone.  Wesson described  Strumigenys pergandei  colonies closely associated with nests of Carpenter ants, Camponotus pennsylvanica,  wood/field ants Formica integra, F. fusca, and opportunistic and common ants Aphaenogaster fulva.   Arizona dacetines S. arizonica inhabit Trachymyrmex arizonensis nests, a possible obligate relationship, and recently I have found on several occasions colonies of S. rostrata nesting with Temnothorax curvispinosus as well as with Nylanderia spp. in the same hickory nut!  Wesson & Wesson reported several Strumigenys pergandei hunted Collembola that were associated with other ant nests, but Wilson (1954 ), observed S. louisianae,  and non-native S. membranifera ate other ant larvae. I wonder how many and how often Strumigenys eat eggs or larvae of other ants?  Since revisiting a few early natural history papers, I took a week to quest for Strumigenys ants that may live in sticks/logs and possibly nest with or near other ants.  Having just finished a challenging academic quarter, I took a couple days to perform not-academic ant collecting.  I excused myself from responsibility and seeked out personally interesting habitats to collect ants – namely to collect ants of the genus  Strumigenys.

West of Louisiana Strumigenys abundance and diversity decreases dramatically, and most native species have only been found in small geographic or ecological ranges.  When it comes to California, native Strumigenys are SCARCE! And when it comes to Los Angeles, native Strumigenys do not exist- or did not exist…

I went to look for Strumigens anyway. I spent a couple afternoons sifting litter in moist ravines and depressions in and near the canyons and mountains of Topanga CA.  I brought back several Temnothorax colonies alive that had nested in sticks in the ground as well as sifted litter and debris for Winkler extractions.   As I sifted through a refuse pile of what I now believe to be Temnothorax caguatan, I saw the undeniably Strumigenys-like spongiform tissue.  I have revisited the site several times, and though I expect that there are more than the one ant I found, I have failed to recover additional specimens!  If anyone wants to head out to collect, let me know!

Strumigenys CA_01_BOOHER

 

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