Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on Non-native Neotropical Ant-acacias (Fabales: Fabaceae) in Florida

James K. Wetterer, Andrea L. Wetterer

Abstract


One of the best-known symbioses in the Neotropics is the association between ant-acacias and Pseudomyrmex ants that live in the acacia’s hollow thorns. We surveyed ants on two species of ant-acacia, Acacia cornigera (L.) and Acacia sphaerocephala Schlechtendal & Chamisso, growing outside their native range at five sites in Florida. We found eleven ant species: five native Florida ants (Brachymyrmex sp. nr. obscurior, Camponotus floridanus (Buckley), Pseudomyrmex cubaensis (Forel), Pseudomyrmex ejectus (Smith), and Pseudomyrmex elongatus (Mayr)), two Neotropical exotics (Camponotus sexguttatus (Fabr.) and Pseudomyrmex gracilis (Fabr.)), and four Old World exotics (Monomorium floricola (Jerdon), Paratrechina longicornis (Latreille), Pheidole megacephala (Fabr.), and Technomyrmex albipes (Smith)). Only the two Neotropical exotics, Ps. gracilis and C. sexguttatus, inhabited thorns with holes that appeared to have been perforated by ants as entrances. For Ps. gracilis, and perhaps also for C. sexguttatus, their association with ant-acacias in Florida represents the reconstitution in an exotic locale of a facultative symbiosis evolved in the Neotropics.

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