Ant and Related Entomology Terms

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

The swelling of the abdomen to an unusual degree due to the hypertrophy of fat bodies, ovaries, or both.
The longer, stouter hair, or setae, which stand out above the shorter, usually finer hairs that constitute the pubescence.

Setae are stiff hairs, bristles, or bristle-like processes or parts.

The founding of a colony by multiple queens.

The alliance of two or more queens during colony founding is a widespread, but still far from universal habit for some ants.

In the honeypot, the Myrmecocystus mimicus queens are strongly attracted to each other after they have mated, and the pleometrosis is enhanced further by the queens' tendency to start nests in close proximity.

Although pleometrosis is very common among ants, it seldom leads smoothly to polygyny. In most cases, multiple queens are reduced to a single egg-laying queen, at least within local areas of the nest, shortly after the first brood of workers emerge as an adult from a pupal case or a larva from an egg.

The workers eliminate the supernumerary queens or the queens fight among themselves and are reduced further by worker aggression, or the queens begin to fight and disperse to different parts of the nest, creating a condition of oligogyny (presence of a few queens within a single colony).

—Compiled from excerpts of
"Demographic Consequences of Gyny and of Dominance Orders"
located in The Ants by Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson;
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press;
Cambridge, Massachusetts; 1990; pages 220-221.
The close proximity of two or more nests, accompanied by little or no direct communication between the colonies inhabiting them.
A reference to hairs that are multiply branched and hence feather-like in appearance.
polydomous, polycalic
A reference to single colonies that occupy more than one nest.
Division of labor among members of a colony.

In social insects a distinction can be made between caste polyethism, in which morphological castes are specialized to serve different functions, and age polyethism, in which the same individual passes through different forms of specialization as she grows older.

The coexistence in the same colony of two or more egg-laying queens; as opposed to monogyny.

When multiple queens found (setup) a colony together, the situation is referred to as primary polygyny. When supplementary queens are added after a colony's foundation, the condition is referred to as secondary polygyny.

The co-existence of only two or a few additional queens is sometimes called oligogyny.

With social insects, the co-existence of two or more functionally different castes within the same sex.

In ants it is possible to define polymorphism somewhat more precisely as the occurrence of nonisometric relative growth occurring over a sufficient range of size variation within a normal mature colony to produce individuals of distinctly different proportions at the extremes of the size range.

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

The name derives from the subfamily ponerinae, one of the constituent taxa.

In certain ants, the second segment of the waist.

This is in fact the third abdominal segment, since the first abdominal segment (propodeum) is fused to the thorax.

Any previously existing anatomical structure, physiological process, or behavior pattern that makes new forms of evolutionary adaptation more likely.
Applied to the condition, or to the group possessing it, in which individuals display some degree of social behavior short of eusociality which refers to sterile individuals that work for reproductive individuals.

Presocial species are either subsocial, that is, the parents care for their own nymphs and larvae, or else parasocial, that is, one or two of the following three trails is shown; such as, cooperation in care of young, reproductive division of labor, and/or overlap of generations of life stages that contribute to colony labor.

The terminal segment of the leg, consisting usually of a pair of lateral claws and the arolium or a small pad between the claws on an insect's foot.

The arolium is usually very small, but well developed in grasshoppers and some other insects.

The dorsal plate of the prothorax in insects or the foremost of the three segments in the thorax of an insect which bears the first pair of legs.

Its principal sclerites (exoskeletal plates) are the pronotum (dorsal), the prosternum (ventral), and the propleuron (lateral) on each side.

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).