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Aphaenogaster lamellidens Mayr 1886

Aphaenogaster lamellidens, full face view of worker (click image to enlarge).
Aphaenogaster lamellidens, profile view of worker. The contrasting dark brown femora and tibae are often seen on specimens from this part of the country (click image to enlarge).
Aphaenogaster lamellidens head
Aphaenogaster lamellidens side view of worker
Aphaenogaster lamellidens, full face view of worker (click image to enlarge).
Aphaenogaster lamellidens, profile view of worker (click image to enlarge).
Aphaenogaster lamellidens queen, fave
Aphaenogaster lamellidens queen side view
Aphaenogaster lamellidens, full face view of queen (click image to enlarge).
Aphaenogaster lamellidens, profile view of queen (click image to enlarge).
Aphaenogaster lamellidens colony
Aphaenogaster lamellidens pupae
Aphaenogaster lamellidens colony (click image to enlarge).
Aphaenogaster lamellidens pupae and larvae (click image to enlarge).
Aphaenogaster lamellidens attacking Bess Beetle
Aphaenogaster lamellidens workers attacking Bess beetle
(Odontotaenius disjunctus: Passalidae)

(click image to enlarge).

Ants in the genus Aphaenogaster are medium sized to large, slender with long legs and antennae, usually have propodeal spines (a few species lack spines), have 12 segmented antennae with the last 4 segments forming a weak club. The genus is widespread in North America and species nest in rotting wood, under bark, and in soil.

Aphaenogaster lamellidens is one of our larger species of Aphaenogaster (in this region). It is reddish-brown with strong sculpture, often contrasting dark legs, and relatively long spines. Identification is relatively easy as they possess a tooth-like lobe on the frontal carina that points rearward toward the posterior of the head.

Biology and Economic Importance
Habitat: Aphaenogaster lamellidens, in my estimation, must be one of the most common ants in forested areas in central to north MS and AL. We have collected this species in oak-hickory forests, in upland hardwood forests, dry to mesic forests, bottomland hardwood forests, mixed pine-hardwood forests, and other woodland habitats. It has also been reported from xeric and mesic hammocks in Florida (Van Pelt 1958) and longleaf pine savannas (Dash 2005). (Similarly, James Trager has found this species in remnant and better-quality second-growth, dry-mesic and mesic woodlands, especially where oaks are present. He notes that throughout its range it is reported that A. lamellidens nests in soil, under rocks, and in or under wood that is in the mid to latter stages of decomposition, especially smaller diameter pieces lying on the ground, but in Missouri it seems to have a preference for nesting in red-rotten wood on the floor of mesic woodlands on acidic soils. In Alabama and Mississippi, we frequently find this species nesting in soil at the bases of trees, under rotting logs, in rotting logs and stumps, under bark, and in standing trees. Although I have found colonies in or at bases of numerous species of oaks, I have found it to be especially common in standing dead or logs of loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda).

Natural History: Colonies are often large, sometimes with thousands of workers present. Similar to A. fulva, this species is considered to be a generalized predator. Smith (1979) notes that it feeds on dead and live insects.

We have collected alates in late June in Mississippi.

Smith (1979) gives the distribution of A. lamellidens as N.Y. s. to Fla., w. to Ill., Mo., and Tex. In the Southeast, this species is known to occur in AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN.

Literature Cited
Dash, S. T. 2005. Species Diversity and biogeography of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Louisianan, with Notes on their Ecology. M.S. Thesis, Louisiana State University, 290 pp

Smith, D. R. 1979. In Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D. C. Vol. 2, pp. 1323-1427.

Van Pelt, A. F. 1958. The ecology of the ants of Welaka Reserve Florida (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)Part II: annotated list. The American Midland Naturalist 59: 1-60.

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