Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Big Thicket Region of Texas

JoVonn G. Hill

Uploaded: 20 December 2013

 

The Big Thicket region of Texas is located between the Trinity and Sabine rivers in southeast Texas (Watson 2006). ).  The Big Thicket has been called " the biological crossroads of North America" as species from the east and west occur relatively near each other within a mosaic of habitats such as arid sandylands, bottomland hardwood forests and cypress sloughs, palmetto hardwood flats, wetland pine savannah, upland pine forests, and mixed grass prairies (NPS 2010). In 2006, an All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) began in the Thicket to document every living species within the region.  As part of the ATBI, surveys of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) began in 2011, and should continue into 2014.

As ant occupy a wide range of ecological niches, a multifaceted sampling approach is being utilized in all the major habitat types of the region to ensure the highest species count is achieved.  This includes visual searching for ants on the ground, in leaf litter, and plant parts. Leaf litter and other decaying organic matter is collected and placed a Berlese funnel in the laboratory for extraction of ants.  Foraging ants are collected by hand and with the use of baits, namely peanut butter and cookies, at each locality.  Ant specimens are deposited in the Mississippi Entomological Museum

Thus far, 42 ant species of ants have been collected in the Big Thicket.  The documentation of two ants, Dolichoderus pustulatus and Strumigenys angulata represent new state records for Texas.  Additionally, six exotic ant species were documented in the region with three species (Brachymyrmex patagonicus, S. invicta, and Pheidole morens) being extremely abundant, even in apparently undisturbed habitats.  Both the monogyne and polygyne social forms of S. invicta have been found in the region.

Ants of the Big Thicket Region of Texas

Aphaenogaster carolinensis Wheeler
Aphaenogaster treatae Forel
Atta texana (Buckley)
Brachymyrmex depilis Emery
Brachymyrmex patagonicus Mayr**
Camponotus castaneus (Latreille)
Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer)
Crematogaster ashmeadi Mayr
Crematogaster lineolata (Say)
Crematogaster pilosa Emery
Crematogaster pinicola Deyrup and Cover
Cyphomyrmex rimosus (Spinola)**
Discothyrea testacea Roger
Dolichoderus pustulatus Mayr*
Dorymyrmex bureni (Trager)
Forelius mccooki (McCook)
Formica dolosa Buren
Hypoponera inexorata (Wheeler)
Hypoponera opacior (Forel)
Labidus coecus (Latreille)
Leptogenys elongata (Buckley)
Monomorium minimum (Buckley)
Myrmecina americana Emery
Nylanderia arenivaga (Wheeler)
Nylanderia faisonensis (Forel)
Nylanderia terricola (Buckley)
Pachycondyla harpax (Fabricius)**
Pheidole dentata M.R.Smith
Pheidole metallescens Emery
Pheidole moerens Wheeler**
Ponera pennsylvanica Buckley
Pseudomyrmex gracilis (Fabricius)
Solenopsis carolinensis Forel
Solenopsis invicta Buren**
Solenopsis subterranea MacKay & Vinson
Solenopsis tonsa Thompson
Strumigenys louisianae Roger
Strumigenys angulata Smith*
Strumigenys dietrichi M. R. Smith
Strumigenys membranifera Emery**
Strumigenys ornata Mayr
Trachymyrmex septentrionalis (McCook)

References

National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. 2010. Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas. Informational Brochure.

Watson, G. E. 2006.  Bit Thicket Plant Ecology: An Introduction. University of North Texas Press, Denton, Tx. 136 pp.