Ant and Related Entomology Terms

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

A chamber at the entrance of a body opening.
Attini, Attine
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.
Azteca ants
These ants tend to live only in the hollow stems of cecropia trees, an example of an ant-plant association.

They 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 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
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.
Beltian bodies
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.
The mass of army ant workers within which the queen and brood find refuge.
With proportionally reduced wings, incapable of full flight.
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.

Referring to or directed toward the cheek or within the mouth.
Ant colony multiplication by the departure of a relatively small force of workers from the main nest, accompanied by one or more queens.
callow workers
Newly eclosed adult workers whose exoskeleton 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.

Carpenter ants.
carina (s), carinae (pl)
The elevated ridge, or ridges, on the insect body surface.
Possessing carinae; especially in parallel rows.
carton nests
Carton nests are created by ants as they transform large cavities in the soil and tree trunks by filling them with carton nests, whose internal structure is partitioned and resembles a sponge; a cardboard-like substance consisting of chewed plant material often mixed with soil, made by certain insects for building nests.

The ant carton consists of particles of wood, dry vegetable material, and soil glued together with sugary secretions collected by the ants from aphids and other homopteran insects (bugs that pierce plant tissues and suck out the sap).

The fungal mycelium (loose network of delicate filaments hyphae or threadlike filaments that form the body of a fungus) grows through the walls of the carton which are strengthened by the symbiotic fungus which reinforces them in the same way that steel mesh or rods reinforce the walls of buildings.

—Compiled excerpts located in the section
"Ant-Fungus Symbioses" from The Ants by Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson;
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press;
Cambridge, Massachusetts; 1990; page 607.

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).