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Stephanie & Corey's Ants & Other Insects From Spain
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Images of Ants & Other Insects Collected by Stephanie & Corey in Spain
Updated by W.P. Armstrong, 25 July 2021
1. The Remarkable Golden Egg Bug: Phyllomorpha laciniata
2. The Very Flexible Acrobat Ant: Crematogaster scutellaris
3. An Iberian Peninsula Native Ant: Aphaenogaster iberica
4. Uncertain Ant Species From Spain As Of 28 July 2021
5. Carpenter Ants From Spain: Received December 2021
6. Red Wood Ant (Formica) From Ronda, Spain (Aug. 2022)

1. Phyllomorpha laciniata: A Member of Leaf-Footed Bug Family (Coreidae)
This Unusual Bug (Order Heteroptera) is Also Called "Golden Egg Bug"

The Bug That Laid The Golden Eggs!
This unusual little bug is about 1 cm or 0.39 in (less than half an inch). It is native to the Mediterranean region. In fact, its native host plant upon which it lays its eggs is called Algerian tea (Paronychia argentea). An interesting fact about this bug is that it also lays eggs on other individuals of its own species who act as "mobile nests." These egg carriers provide more protection for the eggs than static locations on the host plant leaves & stems. This insect is called the "golden egg bug" because its tiny oval eggs are the color of gold. There are a number of articles on the Internet about this remarkable little bug

I uploaded my image of Golden Egg Bug plus the collection location in Rota, Spain to iNaturalist. It was identified by several bug experts in just over an hour! This is pretty amazing.

Phyllomorpha laciniata was featured on a postage stamp in Hungary. I have also seen Internet images of this species from Turkey and Portugal, so it apparently has a wide distribution in Europe. Its type locality where the original type specimen was collected is southwestern Europe. I must say that it would be fun to find and photograph its golden eggs!

2. Acrobat Ant (Crematogaster scutellaris)

The acrobat ant (Crematogaster scutellaris), a widespread species throughout Europe and the Mediterranean region. The body length is 3.0 mm although they can be a little longer. The name "acrobat" refers to their very flexible petiole & postpetiole that enables them to hold their gaster above the body. See following image of a local species from Daley Ranch in Escondido.

The name "acrobat ant" refers to the unusual way a worker holds its abdomen (gaster) up over the rest of its body by a very flexible petiole.

Crematogaster scutellaris is a natural predator of the moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa), a devastating pest of Mediterranean pines, especially the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis).This ant also preys on the fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes), symbiotic pollinator of fig trees (Ficus carica) that inhabit this region.

3. Interesting Ant From The Iberian Peninsula (Aphaenogaster iberica)

The elongate, oval head of this Iberian Aphaenogaster is very distinctive. It is similar to larger Aphaenogaster species I have seen from Arizona and Texas; however, the latter species have now been moved to the genus Novomessor. In fact, I became rather attached to Novomessor cockerelli in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. I could hand feed them Nature Valley Granola and they actually seemed friendly and curious. Another similar species N. albisetosis attacked and bit quite hard when I attempted to pick them up.

Long-Legged Ant (Aphaenogaster = Novomessor)

Two species of Aphaenogaster (A. cockerelli and A. albisetosus) that I have photographed in Arizona and New Mexico are now placed in the genus Novomessor. The large size, long legs, and elongate head of this ant certainly resembles A. cockerelli. If it is the latter species, it would be properly named Novomessor cockerelli.

4. Uncertain Ant Species From Spain

I was unable to make a positive ID on the ants in above image. They resemble similar species in California; however, I am hesitant to make assumptions without more detailed characteristics in a key for ants of Spain. Based on my ant images from California, Arizona & Maui, I have listed a few suggested names of species that they superficially resemble:

A., B?, F? Messor barbarus (Polymorphic) See image of similar M. pergandei.

C. Formica with 3 ocelli--see following head image of black species similar to F. decipiens.

D. Tapinoma sessile?

E. Forelius? Lack of antennal club & postpetiole rules out Monomorium.

Messor pergandei from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This name has been changed to Veromessor pergandei. This common desert species is one of my best ant images.

Magnified Head View Of Uncertain Ant "C" (Formica?).
Worker ants in some genera have 3 small, simple eyes, called ocelli, on their forehead. Based on the overall body shape & profile, this may be one of the many European field ants (genus Formica). Possibly F. decipiens. Other black species listed for Spain include F. fusca, F. gagates, F. lemani, and F. picea.

Ocelli (singular ocellus) are simple photo-receptors (light detecting organs). They consist of a single lens and several sensory cells. Unlike compound eyes, ocelli do not form a complex image of the environment but are used to detect movement. The role of ocelli in the stabilization of flight is relatively well-studied in winged insects, but little is known about the use of ocelli by walking insects. It was shown by Wehner (Insect & Robot Navigation, 2011) for the ant genus Cataglyphis that they use their ocelli to extract celestial compass information.

Another Field Ant (Formica subsericea) From N. U.S. & Canada
Collected by Ant Hunter Stephanie Zeauskas in Glasgow, Delaware, USA

5. Carpenter Ants From Spain: 14 December 2021

  Compare With Spain Camponotus Images On  
Compare With Spain Camponotus Images On

Carpenter ants belong to the genus Camponotus, one of the largest genera of ants. lists 19 species for Spain. I compared my images with AntWiki and the closest match in my opinion is C. micans, at least for the smaller ant (#2). lists 24 species for Spain, including an image of C. micans that looks similar to the larger ant (#1). I am guessing that these may be major and minor workers. These websites include head views like the above images, only with very sophisticated high-end camera equipment compared with my old Nikon & extension rings. I have 15 links to Camponotus species on my Ant Genera Page, including the giant Malaysian C. gigas. See following link.

  Camponotus Links On Wayne's Word Ant Genera Page  

Giant Malaysian Carpenter Ant: One Of Largest Ants On Our Planet!

Little Yellow Ant (Plagiolepis alluaudi), one of the smallest ants: This tiny ant was introduced to Hawaii in 1913. Dried ants adhere to needle probes and other objects due to static electricity. They will even "jump" or move on a light box making them difficult to arrange for close-up photography. They are about the diameter of the eye of an Asian carpenter ant!

6. Red Wood Ant (Formica sp.) From Ronda, Spain (25 Aug. 2022)

With 23 species in the genus Formica listed for Spain by, I hesitate to guess the specific epithet. Formica is a large ant genus with hundreds of species worldwide. They are subdivided into several different groups. They are typically called "wood ants" or "field ants." As an effective defense mechanism, they spray formic acid from the tip of their abdomen (gaster). It is especially painful if they have broken your skin with their mandibles. They do not have true stinging organs (stingers) like fire ants (Solenopsis) and harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex). I can answer one Internet question without hesitation: "The laminated tabletop material also called Formica is NOT made from these ants!"

One choice in the dichotomous key that leads to this genus in Phil Ward's key to California ants are small, simple eyes (ocelli) on the forehead of some ant species. Three ocelli are visible on my above close-up image of the head. The type species for this genus is the European red wood ant (F. rufa). In fact, members of the "rufa group" also occur in North America. Another fascinating group is F. sanguinea, slave-making ants that enslave other species of Formica.