Ant and Related Entomology Terms

(terms restricted to the study of social insects; such as, ants and words that apply generally to entomology)

myrmecioid complex
One of two major taxonomic groups of ants sometimes recognized in classification.

The name is based on the subfamily Myrmeciinae, one of the constituent taxa.

It should not be confused with the subfamily Myrmicinae, which belongs to the poneroid complex.

The dispersal of seeds by ants stimulated by nutritive bodies or attracted by the elaiosomes (elaios-, "oil" + some-, "body"; fleshy structures that are attached to the seeds of many plant species).

The dispersal of seeds by granivorous (grain eating) ants without the aid of such specialized attractants is not included in this term.

Specialized structures; such as, inflated stems, used by ant plants for the housing of ant colonies.
The scientific study of ants.
A reference to an organism that spends part of its life cycle in ant or termite nests or colonies and so thrives in such association with ants (or termites).
The general condition of encouraging ants.

In this system, myrmecophily is used to denote ant pollination while some other writers have used the term to refer to the condition of being an ant plant, or myrmecophytism.

It seems appropriate to use the expression myrmecophilous in the broadest sense, comprising both pollination and myrmecophytism and all the plants that exist to attract and to reward ants.

The strongest evidence for ant-plant mutualism comes from the existence of domatia, or plant structures that serve no evident purpose other than to shelter ant colonies.

Domatia increase the density of ants on the plant itself because ants are always quick to take advantage of whatever hollows and crevices plants have to offer.

In most cases the shelters are not true domatia and the ants live as parasites or commensals on the plants or a relationship between organisms of two different species in which one derives food or other benefits from the association while the other remains unharmed and unaffected.

—Compiled excerpts from
"Plants Shelter Ants: Myrmecophily"; The Ants by Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson;
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press;
Cambridge, Massachusetts; 1990; page 534.
Higher plants that live in obligatory, mutualistic relationships with ants.
The condition of being an ant plant, in other words possessing ant shelters (domatia).
1. The stimulation of growth in ant plants by nutrients carried to the plants by their guest ants.
2. The transport of soil, litter, and other nutrient-bearing materials by ants that results in the feeding of the plant hosts.
nanitic worker
The dwarf workers produced from either the first ant broods or later ant broods that have been subjected to starvation.

Nanitic workers occur in both monomorphic and polymorplhic species.

The snout-like organ possessed by soldiers of some species in the nasutitermitinae. The nasus is used to eject poisonous or sticky fluid at intruders.
nasute soldier
A soldier termite possessing a nasus.
Transportation of dead members of the colony away from the nest.
nest odor
The distinctive odor of a nest, by which its inhabitants can distinguish their own nest from those belonging to other colonies or at least from the surrounding environment.

Certain insects; for example, honey bees and some ants, can orient themselves toward their nests by means of the odor.

It is possible that the nest odor is the same as the "colony odor" in some cases. The nest odor of honey bees is often referred to as the "hive aura" or "hive odor".

The combined range of environmental variables; such as, temperature, humidity, and food items, within which a species can exist and reproduce.

Here are two additional word units that deal directly with "ants": formic- and myrmeco-.

Index of additional Scientific and Technological Topics.

Bibliography of Entomology or Insect Terms (The Ants).