Discovery of tiny ant species from India
Updated: Jan 29, 2022
By Anand Harshana
Ants are social insects. They are ubiquitous and so abundant that the biomass of all ants is almost equivalent to the biomass of all the human beings on earth. They live in colonies of thousands and millions of highly coordinated individuals mutually connected by a complex chemical communication system. They play various significant roles in ecosystems like predating over other insects and arthropods, as scavengers, turning and fertilizing the soil, controlling agricultural and horticultural pests, dispersing plant seeds, etc. Presently, India is home to around 850 species falling under 10 subfamilies with more than 100 genera. About 70% of Indian ant species fall under two subfamilies, Myrmicinae and Formicinae. The subfamily Formicinae is represented by 19 genera in India, and they can be identified by the presence of a single node between mesosoma and gaster, and an acidopore at the apex of gaster.
Agraulomyrmex Prins, 1983 is a little-known African ant genus in the subfamily Formicinae with only two described species from South Africa and Zimbabwe. Recently a third species Agraulomyrmex damohensis Harshana & Dey, 2021 has been discovered from India (Oriental region). It is the newest species of ant added to the Indian ant fauna. It was discovered from Damoh, Madhya Pradesh. This species is so tiny (1.1 mm) that it remained unnoticed during collection. It was collected inadvertently and it is possibly the smallest ant species in India. It has been placed in the genus Agraulomyrmex based on the structure of mesosoma which is devoid of mesometanotal suture and metanotal groove, presence of nine segmented antennae without a distinct club and absence of ocelli. This discovery paves way for the studies of other small sized ants present around us which stayed unnoticed till date.
For further details, please refer to:
Harshana A. and Dey D. 2021. First record of the ant genus Agraulomyrmex Prins, 1983 (Formicidae: Formicinae) from India, with description of a new species. Oriental Insects, DOI: 10.1080/00305316.2021.2023056
Anand Harshana, a Research Scholar at Division of Entomology, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi-110012, India.
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