Authors: Joe A. MacGown and Ryan J. Whitehouse
Tetramorium caespitum, full face view of a worker (TN, Sevier Co.) (photo by Ryan Whitehouse and Joe A. MacGown)
Tetramorium caespitum, lateral view of a worker (TN, Sevier Co.) (photo by Ryan Whitehouse and Joe A. MacGown)
Tetramorium caespitum, dorsal view of a worker (TN, Sevier Co.) (photo by Ryan Whitehouse and Joe A. MacGown)
Tetramorium species can be identified by the two segmented waist; broad frons; 11 or 12-segmented antennae; three-segmented antennal club; antennal scrobe present dorsal to the eyes; eyes located along the midline of the head; lateral part of the clypeus forming a sharp wall anterior to the antennal insertion.
Tetramorium caespitum is a holarctically found ant widely distributed across Europe and the United States. They form colonies under stones, litter and other objects on the ground as well as in logs and buildings. In some areas T. caespitum is the most common house dwelling ant (Smith 1965).
Taxonomic History (Bolton, 2016)
Queen: no MEM specimens
Male: no MEM specimens. (Based on antwiki.org pictures of one specimen). Color is dark brown to black with antennae and legs lighter in color. Head with hair-like setae on the posterior border and conspicuous setae on the mandibles; eyes large and located laterally along the midline of the head; three ocelli present; antennae are 10-segmented; first funicular segment much shorter than the second; sculpturing is subreticulate. Mesosoma with hair-like setae along the dorsal surface; four wings present; mesonotal segment enlarged; weak longitudinal striations. Waist is two-segmented; sparse, erect setae present; petiole and post petiole nodes relatively low; postpetiolar node about twice the width of the petiolar node. Gaster is smooth and shining with short, hair-like setae located near the posterior border of each tergite; genetalia present at the apex.
Biology and Economic Importance
Commonly found nesting in and near houses and gardens, Tetramorium caespitum is considered a pest species by some people. They have been known to feed on garden plants and observed to girdle and scar the roots as well as forage upon seeds in seed beds (Smith 1965). Also, in areas where they are prolific, these ants can be the primary house pest, nesting and foraging in homes. Tetramorium caespitum has also been shown to be an intermediate host of the poultry tapeworms Raillietina tetragona (Molin) and R. echinobothrida (Megnin) (Smith 1965). They acquire the cestode parasite by consuming the eggs that were laid on plants. The eggs then will hatch and develop into cysticercoids inside the body cavity of the ant where they wait until the ants gets ingested by a chicken, or other primary host, where they reproduce in the chicken’s gut (Junquera 2007-2016). Because of T. caespitum’s role as an intermediate host for poultry tapeworms, it is important for veterinary science. Tetramorium caespitum has also been known to sting people and has been observed to cause allergic reactions in some people (Smith 1965).
Nearctic Region: Canada, United States (antwiki.org and MEM).
U.S. Distribution: AL, CA, CO, GA, IL, KY, MA, MD, MS, MO, NE, NM, NJ, NV, OH, OR, PA, NC, NY, SC, TN, UT, VA, WA, WV (antweb.org, antwiki.org and MEM).
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