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Dolichoderus plagiatus (Mayr)
Dolichoderus plagiatus, frontal view of the head of a worker. Note the deep pits on the head
(click on image to enlarge).
Dolichoderus plagiatus, side view of a worker
(click on image to enlarge).

The Dolichoderus species found in the U.S are small to medium sized ants that are somewhat atypical for other North American Dolichoderinae in that the integument is harder, and not as thin and flexible as in our other Dolichoderine genera. Additionally, they can be characterized by having strong sculpture on the alitrunk, and the declivious face of the propodeum being strongly concave (see side view above). Species found in the U.S. possess "repugnatorial" glands, which produce a pungent or smoky smelling volatile secretion (Creighton 1950).

Workers of Dolichoderus plagiatus can be separated from other species of Dolichoderis found in this region by the following characteristics: dorsum of head with coarse, deep foveolae which are very close together with surface between them forming a rugo-reticulate pattern; and scapes with numerous short erect hairs on anterior surfaces. All surfaces of body with abundant erect hairs. This species has a reddish-brown to almost black head with lighter scapes and mandibles, reddish alitrunk, waist, and legs, and reddish to black gaster with the color fading from reddish-brown anteriorly to near black posteriorly.

According to Creighton (1950), this species has small colonies (hundreds of workers). Nests are found in soil under detritus in forests, in hollow stems, and in curled-up leaves. They are found in a variety of habitats including open grassy areas, forests, and wet areas. Similar to other Dolichoderus species, they collect the sweet secretions produced by various homopterans and eat other insects for sustenance.

North American species are only found east of the Rocky Mountains. This species is no exception and is widely distributed in the eastern U.S. However, we have not collected this species in MS, although we have found it in DeKalb Co., AL.


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