Friday, July 15, 2016

A new ant: Myrmica latra

Socially parasitic ants use the nests and workforce of other ant species to raise their own offspring. The queens of social parasites need to get inside the nests of other ants, where they will lay eggs which are reared by the workers of their host. 

The ant genus Myrmica consists of about 200 species widespread throughout the temperate regions of the Holarctic and high mountains in Southeast Asia. Some Myrmica species are known parasitic ants and so is today's new species, named after the Latin adjective for robber or thief.

For the experts: A new socially-parasitic species, Myrmica latra sp. n. is described based on a queen and male from Indian Himalaya. Its queen differs from other species by the distinctly narrower petiole and postpetiole, blunt and non-divergent propodeal spines, and a darker body colour. The taxonomic position of the three known Himalayan socially-parasitic Myrmica species is discussed, and M. ereptrix Bolton 1988 is transferred to the smythiesii species-group. It is supposed that M. nefaria Bharti 2012 is a temporary social parasite, but M. ereptrix and M. latra sp. n. are permanent social parasites, and a key for their identification is provided.

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