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. 2012;12:48.
doi: 10.1673/031.012.4801.

Natural History of the Neotropical Arboreal Ant, Odontomachus Hastatus: Nest Sites, Foraging Schedule, and Diet

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Natural History of the Neotropical Arboreal Ant, Odontomachus Hastatus: Nest Sites, Foraging Schedule, and Diet

Rafael X Camargo et al. J Insect Sci. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The ecology of most arboreal ants remains poorly documented because of the difficulty in accessing ant nests and foragers in the forest canopy. This study documents the nesting and foraging ecology of a large (∼13 mm total length) arboreal trap-jaw ant, Odontomachus hastatus (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in a sandy plain forest on Cardoso Island, off the coast of Southeast Brazil. The results showed that O. hastatus nested in root clusters of epiphytic bromeliads, most commonly Vriesea procera (70% of nest plants). Mature O. hastatus colonies include one to several queens and about 500 workers. Foraging by O. hastatus is primarily nocturnal year-round, with increased foraging activity during the wet/warm season. The foragers hunt singly in the trees, preying on a variety of canopy-dwelling arthropods, with flies, moths, ants, and spiders accounting for > 60% of the prey captured. Although predators often have impacts on prey populations, the ecological importance of O. hastatus remains to be studied.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
(A) General view of two clumped epiphytic bromeliads (Vriesia) in the sandy forest of Cardoso Island, southeast Brazil; Odontomachus hastatus uses the epiphytes' root mass as nesting site for the colony. (B) Returning forager of Odontomachus hastatus with a recently—captured termite in the mandibles. Photographs courtesy of Pedro Rodrigues. High quality figures are available online.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Foraging activity of Odontomachus hastatus colonies in the dry/cold (August) and wet/warm season (February), on Cardoso Island, southeast Brazil. Ant activity and air temperature were evaluated at two—hour intervals. The arrows indicate sunrise (white) and sunset (grey). High quality figures are available online.
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
(A) Frequency distribution of different types of prey captured by Odontomachus hastatus foragers, and (B) of their dry weights, in the sandy forest of Cardoso Island, southeast Brazil. Data are based on collections from returning ants of two focal colonies, during the peak of their foraging activity (17:30 to 23:00). High quality figures are available online.

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