Albuquerque July 2016 Part 8
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Albuquerque Road Trip July 2016 Part 8
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Ant Species (2)

Ants In The Albuquerque Area

Field Ants (Formica)

These large ants belong to the huge genus Formica. They have a worldwide distribution with at least 175 described species, 50 in New Mexico alone! I definitely need an ant authority (myrmecologist) to identify the species of these two ants. As a defense mechanism, these ants typically secrete formic acid from an opening (acidopore) at the tip of their gaster. In fact, the European species F. rufu can reportedly squirt the toxic acid several feet if alarmed. Formic acid was first isolated from Formica ants in 1671 by English naturalist John Ray, and was named after the Latin word formica, meaning "ant." Pronunciation: Anglicized - for-MY-kuh (preferred), FOR-micka (also heard); Latin - for-MEE-kah

Formica at 10,378 ft. Summit of Sandia Peak

Small Red & Black Ants At Crown Plaza Hotel, Albuquerque, NM.

There are trails of small ants on sidewalk of Crown Plaza Hotel in downtown Albuquerque, NM. I have attempted to photograph them in my room. This is about as good as I can get with my limited equipment on this road trip. They appear to be in the Dolichoderinae and superficially resemble Forelius in terms of their size (overall length about 2 -2.5 mm), ant trails and speed, except their gasters are black. They appear too small for Dorymyrmex bicolor and most of them do not have a definitive cone (spine) on pronotum. They have 12-segmented antennae, although segments are very minute and difficult to count. I cannot see an acidopore at tip of gaster. In addition, they have a single petiole node and no propodeal spines.

According to Phil Ward, UC Davis (Personal Communication, 26 Jan. 2017), this is the highly variable Forelius pruinosus. "Forelius pruinosus: Albuquerque, NM; light with darker gaster; these specimens fall under the rubric of western "pruinosus", which is highly variable in color and pilosity."

These small red & black ants from my campsite at Crown Plaza Hotel in Albuquerque MAY be a range extension for the U.S., or POSSIBLY an undescribed species of Forelius. The final decision awaits verification by a Forelius authority. I'm not holding my breathe on this! See more images of this unknown ant: New Forelius?

These small red and black ants are only 2 -2.5 mm in overall length, clearly smaller than Dorymyrmex bicolor from Kingman, Arizona. They do not have the distinctive pronotal cone (spine) of Dorymyrmex. They seem to fit the genus Forelius, except Forelius typically does not have a black gaster.

Sidewalks around Crown Plaza Hotel, Albuquerque, NM: 35.108082° N, 106.6245577° W. Elevation: 1619 m