First Record of the Tramp Ant Cardiocondyla obscurior (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) for Mississippi  [PDF]

MacGown, Joe A.1

1Mississippi Entomological Museum, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS, 39762,

Received: 2-XI-2011    Accepted: 4-XI-2011


            Cardiocondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae) is an old world genus of omnivorous ants native to Africa and Asia. A single alate female C. obscurior was collected in 2005 by J. M. Strong in Pearl River County, Mississippi. The genus Cardiocondyla includes several common tramp species that have spread globally with human commerce. Colonies of most species are small (<500 workers) and are typically located in soil, especially in disturbed, open habitats near rivers, roads, forest margins, or other similar areas, although, some species also nest above ground in plant structures (Seifert 2003). Due to their small size and the infrequency in which colonies are detected, members of this genus are not generally considered to be pest species.
            Sixty-nine valid species and subspecies of Cardiocondyla are currently recognized worldwide (Bolton et al. 2007). Historical records from the United States included only four tramp species, C. emeryi (Forel), C. nuda (Mayr), C. venustula Wheeler, and C. wroughtonii (Forel). However, a recent revision of the Holarctic Cardiocondyla (Seifert 2003) did not list C. nuda as occurring in the United States. Based on Seifert’s revision (2003), specimens from the U.S. identified as C. nuda are likely C. minutior Forel or C. mauritanica Forel, and most specimens of C. wroughtonii are likely C. obscurior Wheeler. Current distributions of Cardiocondyla species in the U.S. are: C. mauritanica (Arizona, California), C. emeryi (Florida, Hawaii), C. minutior (Florida), C. obscurior (Florida), C. venustula (Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana), and C. wroughtonii (Florida, Georgia, Louisiana) (Dash 2005, Fisher 2011, MacGown et al. 2011, Seifert 2003, Smith 1979). Records of C. nuda from Alabama (Mackay 1995), Georgia (Smith 1979) and Louisiana (Dash 2005) are likely C. minutior, although they could represent C. venustula, which is somewhat similar in appearance.  
            Cardiocondyla workers can be recognized by their small to medium size (1.5 to 3.5 mm), yellow to dark brown coloration, 11 or 12-segmented antennae with 3-segmented club, flattened clypeus with lateral portions projecting, lack of a promesonotal suture, propodeal spines distinct or absent, relatively large sting, and sparse to entire absence of pilosity on dorsum of body. In the southeastern United States, Temnothorax is the only genus that would be likely confused with Cardiocondyla, but differs by having distinct pilosity present on the dorsum of the body. Cardiocondyla obscurior can be differentiated from the other four species of Cardiocondyla reported from the southeastern United States by its color, which is predominately yellowish brown except for the dark brown gaster, distinct metanotal groove, relatively short antennal scapes, and relatively long propodeal spines.
            A single alate female C. obscurior was collected in a Lindgren funnel trap baited with Typosan and alpha-pinene that was run from 13 to 26 May 2005 by J. M. Strong in Pearl River County, Mississippi. Thus far, no colonies have been detected in Mississippi, and it is not known whether this species is established in the state. This is the first record of the genus Cardiocondyla for Mississippi and represents only the second state in the United States where this species has been reported.



This research was supported by Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station State Project MIS-311080 and the USDA-ARS Areawide Management of Imported Fire Ant Project (Richard L. Brown, Principal Investigator). Approved for publication as Journal Article No J-12076 of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Mississippi State University.



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