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Dolichoderus pustulatus Mayr
Dolichoderus pustulatus, frontal view of the head of a worker
(click image to enlarge).
Dolichoderus pustulatus, side view of a worker
(click 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). They collect the sweet secretions produced by various homopterans and eat other insects for sustenance.

Workers of Dolichoderus pustulatus can be distinguished by the following characteristics: dorsum of head with dense, shallow punctures; scapes usually lacking erect hairs except near apex (occasionally 1 or 2 present elsewhere); alitrunk mostly punctate, with propodeal dorsum having stronger foveolate punctures; body mostly lacking erect hairs except for a few on scapes (apex), femora, and tibia; the dorsal surface of the propodeum distinctly longer than broad, more than 1.4 times longer than broad; and usually concolorous reddish-brown to dark brown, or occasionally somewhat bicolored with most of the body brown and the gaster darker.

According to Creighton (1950), this species has somewhat small colonies compared to D. mariae and D. taschenbergi (up to several hundred instead of thousands). Nests are either under detritus or in a thin, hard carton shell structure which is built around blades of grass. The entrance to the carton nests have been described as being made of the same carton-like substance in the shape of a tube about 3/4 of an inch long, and looking much like the spout of a tea kettle (Wesson and Wesson, 1940). Like other species in the group, this D. pustulatus is known to occur in a variety of habitats from open fields to pine forests or bogs. In Mississippi we collected a large series from a pitfall trap in a Black Belt Prairie remnant.

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. Like our other Dolichoderus in this region, we do not encounter this species with any regularity in AL and MS, although we records of it from four widely separated counties in MS.


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