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Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Pachycondyla is another genus of ants that has hunter queens. Many species of this genus (of this location) of ants are specialist termites hunters. Specialist termite hunters (also includes other arthropods such as centipede) tackle termites differently from other ants that do not specialized on termites. When they encounter termites they kill as many as they can before starting to eat them or carry them back to their nest. They must have 'evolved' this technique to get a higher harvest rate. They also typically stuffed their mandibles with as many as they can carry and not carrying them back one at a time.

A big surprise is that Pachycondyla here is quite a large genus, I have to date encountered over 30 species, possibly more as some are so similar it is hard to make them out as different species. I only publish those that I can clearly see a difference. 

Roughly, this genus can be divided into the fast running and the slow running species, then the slim and sleek against the more bulky species. Most species are subterranean (at least during the day) and tunneled through the forest soil hunting their preys. Though most local (i.e. to this area) Pachycondyla species are mostly subterranean especially during the day there a few species that will hunt out above ground during daytime. Notable among this is Pachycondyla astuta and some small (TL 5 mm or lesser) fast running species that could easily without close examination be mistaken for Nylanderia or even Paratrechina.

Like Odontoponera most species of Pachycondyla similarly have 'slippery' feet and the gyne are semi-claustral and hunts for food during the development of her first brood of workers. While Odontoponera are very 'thrify' with their stinging, it is not so with Pachycondyla.

Some small Pachycondyla species (of the sub tropical region) are currently listed as invasive species and are widely found in the U.S. and known locally as stinging needle ants.

{This page need to be redone to better categorize the specimens, so when I can squeeze in a sufficient bit of time I will reorganize this page to better categorized the specimen based on the expressed morphology. I am also considering whether to separate Pachycondyla into Pachycondyla and Hypoponera but being not a defining authority or any expert at all I will most probably wait a while until things are more settled}

In 2014 C.E. the Pachycondyla genus was revised and separated (or broken aka fragmented) into 19 distinct genera. For the moment until I can find the time to do so, I will keep the current genus designation. If you so desire you can just treat Pachycondyla as the Pachycondyla group or as a sub tribe "Pachycondylini" or a new sub family "Pachycondylinae". But if you have a problem with that then just called them ants or antzz.

The extract from the Zooxata : The tribal and generic classification of the diverse ant subfamily Ponerinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is revised to reflect recent molecular phylogenetic information and a reappraisal of ponerine morphological diversity. The monogeneric tribe Thaumatomyrmecini (Thaumatomyrmex) is newly synonymized under Ponerini (syn. nov.), and the diverse genus Pachycondyla is fragmented into 19 genera, largely along the lines of its junior synonyms: Bothroponera, Brachyponera (gen. rev.), Ectomomyrmex (gen. rev.), Euponera (gen. rev.), Hagensia (gen. rev.), Megaponera (gen. rev.), Mesoponera (gen. rev.), Neoponera (gen. rev.), Ophthalmopone (gen. rev.), Pachycondyla, Paltothyreus (gen. rev.), Pseudoneoponera (gen. rev.), Pseudoponera (gen. rev.), and 6 new genera: Austroponera (gen. nov.), Buniapone (gen. nov.), Fisheropone (gen. nov.), Mayaponera (gen. nov.), Parvaponera (gen. nov.) and Rasopone (gen. nov.).

The 10 millimeters worker. Pachycondyla havilandi has really tiny rudimentary eyes. There are possibly several look alike species of around the same size (TL varying from 9 to 11 mm) that looks very similar.
pachycondyla havilandi ant worker
A worker of Pachycondyla havilandi.

Pachycondyla havilandi worker with larva
Pachycondyla havilandi workers with larvae. Pachycondyla havilandi are among what I called the fat species.

Pachycondyla Sp2.
A worker of a small Pachycondyla species. This is a much smaller species at 6 mm. It is around half the size of the Pachycondyla havilandi.

 Pachycondyla sp3.
Here is an even smaller species. An alate gyne (5mm) and worker (4.8mm). A drop of 1.2 mm in size may not seem much but in this case the 6 mm species is 25% larger than the 4.8mm species.
Workers of one of the smallest Pachondyla species. Pachycondyla are monomorphic.

Similar to Odontomachus, Odontoponera and Diacamma, Pachycondyla's male or drone looks like wasp. Their antennae are "without" the characteristic elbow.

Pachycondyla sp4.
A sleek and polished Pachycondyla species. This species of Pachycondyla  at 9 mm looks very similar to Pachycondyla rubra at 6 to 7 mm (and brown).

Pachycondyla sp5.

This species resembles the previous species but is only a fraction of its size at slightly over 3 mm.

Workers of a polish and sleek looking species of Pachycondyla.

 Pachycondyla sp6.
Another small Pachycondyla species.
 This species is unique in that the gaster color is different from the body main. It could be an anomaly, possibly infection.

Pachycondyla sp14
A large species with workers measuring over 17 millimeters. This species is almost identical to Pachycondyla tridentata except for a slight size different of around 2 millimeters. Also the petiole of Pachycondyla tridentata is more prominent both broader and higher and having three tiny spines.

Another large species with workers measuring 14 millimeters. This species is a Pachycondyla sstuta look alike but is significantly larger.

Pachycondyla sp13

This species resembles Pachycondyla tridentata but at around 12 millimeters is smaller.

Pachycondyla amblyops, a Pachycondyla species that look like a cross between Pachycondyla and Leptogenys. This species the workers only have rudimentary eyes. This mid size ant hunts both alone and in packs.

Pachycondyla amblyops, a Pachycondyla species that look like a cross between Pachycondyla and Leptogenys.

Measuring around 8 millimeters this monomorphic ant is as effective a solitary hunter as Diacamma and Odontoponera.
Pachycondyla amblyops

Pachycondyla astuta worker.

 Pachycondyla astuta worker.

See also:

(no rank)              Root 1
(no rank)              Cellular organism 131567
Superkingdom:     Eukaryota 2759
(no rank)              Opisthokonta 33154
Kingdom:             Metazoa 33208
(no rank)              Eumetazoa 6072
(no rank)              Bilateria 33213
(no rank)              Coelomata 33316
(no rank)              Protosomia 33317
(no rank)              Panarthropoda 88770
Phylum:                Arthropoda 6656
(no rank)              Mandibulata 197563
(no rank)              Pancrustacea 197562
Superclass:          Hexapoda 6960
Class:                   Insecta 50557
(no rank)              Dicondylia 85512
(no rank)              Pterygota 7496
Subclass:             Neoptera 33340
Infraclass:            Endopterygota 33392
Order:                  Hymenoptera 7399
(no rank)              Apocrita 7400
Suborder:             Aculeata 7434
Superfamily:        Vespoidea 34725
Family:                Formicidae 36668
Subfamily:           Ponerinae 43085
Tribe:                   Ponerini 141711
Genus:                  Pachycondyla 118887
Species:               amblyops 613574
                             havilandi 613670
                             astuta 379585

Last Updated: 2018 03 07
First Posted: 2011 01 11
© 2011 – 2018 Quah. All rights reserved.

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