Myrmecological Glossary

  • Aletes

    winged reproductive ants.

  • Asexual

    the ability to reproduce without a sexual partner, off spring will be clones of parents.

  • Antenna

    used to smell, touch, feel and communicate with other ants. Attached to the front of the head, they can move in-front and behind the ant.

  • Aspirator

    see ‘Pooter’

  • Arthropods

    a group of invertebrate animals that includes insects, spiders, crustaceans and their relatives.

  • Biomass

    a mass of organisms.

  • Bivouac

    a nest made of entirely of ants, primarily found in the Army ant species.

  • Brood

    the first born, consisting of eggs, larvae, pupae and ants.

  • Carnivore

    a meat eating diet, carnivorous ants mostly eat other invertebrates.

  • Callows

    young immature adult ants, typically paler in colour.

  • Caste

    the different types of ant in a colony. i.e. queens, drones, soldiers, workers and all in-between.

  • Colony

    A group of ants, which cooperatively construct nests or rears brood.

  • Compound eyes

    ants have many small eyes placed next to each other. This enables them to see close movement.

  • Crop

    holds the ants social food it will share with the colony.

  • Diurnal

    active during the day time.

  • Drone

    a reproductive male ant.

  • Dufour’s gland

    is believed to be involved with the laying of chemicals that guide other ants and perhaps the attraction of mates.

  • Eclose

    when the ant brood changes through stages of the life cycle.

  • Entomology

    the study of insects.

  • Exoskeleton

    An external skeleton, providing rigidity and support for the ant.

  • Forage

    when a worker ant leaves its nest to find food.

  • Formicaria

    plural of ‘formicarium’.

  • Formicarium

    an artificial container designed to house a colony of ants.

  • Gamergates

    rare female worker ants which can mate and reproduce, keeping the colony alive after the queen dies.

  • Gastor

    part of the abdomen. It contains vital organs, it is has a telescoping construction of seven segments that gives this large area flexibility.

  • Genes

    information passed down through generations that determine characteristics of offspring.

  • Genus

    a grouping of organisms that have common characteristics distinct from those of other such groupings. i.e Lasius sp.

  • Genera

    plural of genus.

  • Granaries

    a storage areas where ‘harvester ants’ store their collected seeds.

  • Granivory

    the process by which harvester ants grind and eat seeds.

  • Herbivore

    a plant eating diet, see leaf cutter ants.

  • Homopterans

    plant bugs such as aphids, scale insects and mealy bugs.

  • Honey dew

    a sweet nutritious sugary substance produced by homopterans eaten by ants.

  • Hymenoptera

    the Order in which ants occur, the Order also includes bees, wasps and sawflies.

  • Invertebrate

    an animal without a backbone.

  • Major worker

    the larger worker ants found in a colonies caste, also known as soldier ants.

  • Mandibles

    the ants main jaws, these are used for cutting, holding, fighting, and digging. There are smaller mouthparts for chewing food.

  • Median workers

    worker ants found in polymorphic species that are sized between minor and major workers.

  • Monodomous

    when a single colony lives in and maintains a single nest.

  • Monogyn

    Ant species that have one active queen per colony.

  • Metamorphosis

    the transformation from an immature form to an adult form.

  • Minor worker

    the smaller worker ants found in a colonies caste.

  • Minims

    first born ants that tend to be smaller than typical established colony workers. See also ‘nantics’.

  • Myrmecochory

    a term used to describe seed dispersal by ants.

  • Myrmecology

    the study of ants.

  • Myrmecophile

    an invertebrate or plant that has a symbiotic relationship with the ants.

  • Nantics

    first born ants that tend to be smaller than typical established colony workers. See also ‘minims’.

  • Nectar

    a sweet nutritious sugary substance produced by homopterans eaten by ants.

  • Nocturnal

    active at night time.

  • Nuptial flight

    normally during late spring and summer seasons, the alates take to the skies to mate.

  • Offspring

    the ants born from a queen.

  • Omnivore

    A mixed diet, able to eat seeds, nectar and other creatures.

  • Outbreeding

    reducing the probability of interbreeding closely related individuals, thus reducing disease or genetic abnormalities.

  • Pheromone

    a chemical produced by the ant to communicate with other ants.

  • Polydomous

    when a single colony lives in and maintains more than one nest.

  • Polymorphism

    the occurrence of different worker forms within a colony i.e minor, median and major workers.

  • Polygyn

    Ant species that may have more that one active queen within their colony.

  • Pooter

    a simple device that allows the user to catch insects, typically by sucking on a tube with a filter.

  • Rectum

    holds the waste products inside an ant, waste will be deposited in the colonies designated waste area.

  • Repletes

    a caste of ant that stores large amounts of liquid food in its crop i.e honey pot ants.

  • Soldier

    see ‘major worker’.

  • Spiracles

    small holes found on the ants abdomen that allow oxygen to enter it body.

  • Sterile

    inability to reproduce.

  • Subterranean

    living underground.

  • Super colony

    seen in argentine ants, where by colonies co-exist.

  • Symbiosis

    Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.

  • Taxonomie

    the classification of organisms. A scientific way of grouping and naming anything living.

  • Terrestrial

    living in or on the ground.

  • Trophallaxis

    The ‘mouth to mouth’ exchange of regurgitated liquids between adult ants or adults and the larvae.

  • Thorax

    all legs and wings are attached to the thorax.

  • Vertebrate

    an animal with a backbone.