Aphaenogaster ashmeadi (Emery)

Aphaenogaster ashmeadi (Emery),full face view of worker. This species, as does A. treatae, has a lobe at the base of the scape; however, the lobe is shorter in A. ashmeadi than in A. treatae (click image to enlarge).
Aphaenogaster ashmeadi (Emery), profile view of worker (click image to enlarge).

Ants in the genus Aphaenogaster are medium sized to large, slender with long legs and antennae, usually have propodeal spines (a few species lack spines), have 12 segmented antennae with the last 4 segments forming a weak club. The genus is widespread in North America and species nest in rotting wood, under bark, and in soil.

This species can be distinguished from other Aphaenogaster species by its having a conspicuous lobe extending rearward along the basal fifth (or less) of the scape. The lobe is flat and thin (as seen from the side). Aphaenogaster treatae also has a lobe at the base of the scape, but the length of the lobe usually extends at least one-fourth the length of the scape and is thick, with its upper face forming an obtusely projecting angle in the middle (as seen from the side).

Biology and Economic Importance
This species is reported to have large colonies in the soil at the edges of forests and fields (Cole, 1940), and in sand under litter in hammocks, flatwoods (Van Pelt, 1958), and longleaf pine forests (Dash, 2005). However, I have found this species to be somewhat elusive and have only collected it in sand hill habitats.

Although this species has the potential to sting, it is unlikely to pose any serious threat due to its non-aggressive behavior. Due to its relative scarcity, is unlikely to be a nuisance pest in urban areas; however, it is possible that occasional foragers could make their way into homes.

In the Southeast, this species has been found in FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, and according to Smith (1979), it also ranges to MO and TX.

Literature Cited
Cole, A. C. 1940. A guide to the ants of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Tennessee. The American Midland Naturalist 24: 1-88.

Dash, S. T. 2005. Species Diversity and biogeography of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Louisianan, with Notes on their Ecology. M.S. Thesis, Louisiana State University, 290 pp.

Smith, D. R. 1979. In Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D. C. Vol. 2, pp. 1323-1427.

Van Pelt, A. F. 1958. The ecology of the ants of Welaka Reserve Florida (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)Part II: annotated list. The American Midland Naturalist 59: 1-60.

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