Ant and Related Entomology Terms

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

atrium (s) (noun), atria or atriums (pl)s
In biology, a chamber at the entrance of a body opening: Janet read about <(>atriums being a cavity at the beginning of an orifice of a body.
attine (s) (noun), attines (pl)
Members of the myrmicine tribe (a genus of ants) that share with macrotermitine (large) termites and certain wood-boring beetles the sophisticated habit of cultivating and eating fungi.

Besides their unique behavior and the many peculiar behavioral and physiological changes associated with it, the Attini are distinguished from other ants by an unusual combination of anatomical traits, including the shape of the antennal segments; a less-than-absolute tendency toward hard, spinose, or tuberculate bodies, and a proportionately large, casement-like first gastral segment.

Many of the species of attines gather pieces of fresh leaves and flowers to nourish the fungus gardens. As fresh leaves and other plant cuttings are brought into the nest, they are subjected to a process of degradation before being inserted into the garden substratum.

The ants chew the fragments along the edges until the pieces become wet and pulpy, sometimes adding a droplet of clear anal liquid to the surface.

Finally, the ants pluck tufts of mycelia (vegetative parts of fungi) from other parts of the garden and plant them on the newly formed portions of the substratum.

—A compilation of excerpts from
The Ants by Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson;
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press;
Cambridge, Massachusetts; 1990; page 596.
Attini (pl) (proper noun)
The taxonomic tribe in the Formicidae family: Those ants of the Attini are leaf cutter ants.
Azteca ant (s) (noun), Azteca ants (pl)
An ant that lives only in the hollow stems of cecropia trees, an example of an ant-plant association: The Azteca ants are aggressive and are especially active at the tips of growing branches, but they lack the painful bites or effective stings characteristic of other Amazon ants like army ants or fire ants.

The Azteca ants feed off protein-rich secretions, necessary in their diet, that are produced by special glands at the base of the leaves.

Azteca ants do not sting, but they do bite, and will fiercely protect the tree from potential dangers, for example, they attack other insects that land on the tree and drive them away.

They will cut and kill any vines that begin to climb up the tree, whereas many other trees in the rain forest will be covered in epiphytes or dripping with vines, cecropia trees are generally epiphyte-free and vine-free.

These actions of the Azteca ants allow the cecropia tree to stay healthy, grow as fast as possible, and successfully compete with other trees for limited sunlight. In return, the tree provides the protecting ant with a place to live and a source of food.

—Compiled from information located at
The Ant Realm by Ross F Hutchins; Dodd, Mead & Company;
New York; 1967; pages 144-145; 151-154.
bead gland, pearl body (s) (noun); bead glands; pearl bodies (pl)
One of a heterogeneous group of food bodies with a pear-like luster and high concentration of lipids, apparently used by plants to attract and support ants: A pearl body devolops from the epidermis of leaves, petioles, and certain sprouts and branches of plants.
Beltian body (s) (noun), Beltian bodies (pl)
The food bodies found on the tips of the pinnules and rachises (main axis or shafts) of some New World species of Acacia (various often spiny trees or shrubs), and consumed by the resident "Pseudomyrmex": Beltian bodies are rich in lipids and protein and have supposedly developed into a symbiotic relationship with ants.
bivouac (s) (noun), bivouacs (pl)
A structure formed by the bodies of a mass of migratory army ant workers: A bivouac provides shelter for the queen and larvae.
brachypterous (adjective) (not comparable)
In zoology, regarding a life form with proportionally reduced wings, incapable of full flight: Certain species of insects, like the aphids, are characteristically brachypterous insects.
brood (s) (noun), broods (pl)
The immature members of a colony collectively, including eggs, nymphs, larvae, and pupae: In the strict sense, eggs and pupae are not members of the society, but they are nevertheless referred to as part of the brood.

buccal (adjective) (not comparable)
Referring to or directed toward the cheek or within the mouth: Dr. Smart, the dentist, told Jim that he had a buccal cavity in one of his teeth.
budding (s) (noun), buddings (pl)
Ant colony multiplication by the departure of a relatively small force of worker ants: A budding occurs when a group of worker ants leave the main nest and are accompanied by one or more queens.
callow worker (s) (noun), callow workers (pl)
A newly eclosed adult worker ant: The exoskeleton of a callow worker is still relatively soft and lightly pigmented.

"Eclose" refers to the emergence of an adult insect from a pupal case or an insect larva from an egg.

Camponotus (s) (proper noun)
The hyperdiverse genius, including the carpenter ants: The members of the genus Camponotus are large ants native to several forested areas of the world.
carina (s) (noun), carinae; carina (pl)
The elevated ridge, or ridges on the body of an animal: A carina is shaped like a keel on the surface of an insect's body.
carinate (adjective), more carinate, most carinate
Referring to a shape like a keen or carina, especially in parallel rows: A bird can have a carinate breastbone providing for the attachment of flight muscles.

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).