Subfamily MYRMICINAE
Tribe FORMICOXENINI

Cardiocondyla venustula Wheeler 1908

Cardiocondyla venustula, full face view of a worker (click image to enlarge).
Photo courtesy of http://www.antweb.org/
Cardiocondyla venustula, full face view of a worker (click image to enlarge).
Photo courtesy of http://www.antweb.org/

Introduction
Cardiocondyla is an old world genus of omnivorous ants native to Africa and Asia.  This genus includes several common tramp species that have spread globally with human commerce.  Because of their small size, Cardiocondyla species are often overlooked.  Colonies of most species are small (<500 workers) and are typically located in soil, especially in disturbed, open habitats near rivers, roads, forest margins, or other similar areas (Seifert 2003).  However, some species also nest above ground in plant structures.  Members of this genus are not generally considered to be a pest species.

Identification
Cardiocondyla workers are small to medium in size (1.5 to 3.5 mm) and yellow to dark brown. The antenna is 11 or 12-segmented and terminates in a 3-segmented club. The clypeus is flattened with lateral portions projecting outward. The promesonotal suture is lacking. Propodeal spines may be distinct or absent. For their small size, workers have a relatively large sting. Pilosity is sparse to entirely absent on the dorsum of body.  In the southeastern United States, Temnothorax is the only genus that would be likely confused with Cardiocondyla.  Temnothorax species in this region differ by having distinct pilosity present on the dorsum of the body.  Cardiocondyla venustula can be differentiated from the other four species of Cardiocondyla reported from the southeastern United States by its dark brown coloration; metanotal groove not being strongly impressed; antennal scapes almost reaching occipital border; and short, denticle-like propodeal spines.

Original Description
Link to paper with original description by Wheeler: http://128.146.250.117/pdfs/3272/3272.pdf

Biology and Economic Importance
Habitat/Nesting: Cardiocondyla venustula has been reported to nest in open area such as beaches and fields (Deyrup et al., 2000).

Life Cycle: This species, similar to others in the genus, produces ergatoid males in addition to alate males. Ergatoid males are known to kill newly eclosed rival males (Frohschammer and Heinze, 2009).

Native Range: Africa

Distribution
Worldwide: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Puerto Rico (Seifert, 2003).

United States: Arkansas (Warren and Rouse, 1980), Hawaii (Fisher, 2011), Louisiana (Dash, 2005), and Florida (Seifert, 2003).

Literature Cited

Fisher, B. L. 2011. AntWeb. Species: Cardiocondyla venustula. Available online at:
http://www.antweb.org/description.do?rank=species&name=venustula&genus=cardiocondyla&project=
floridakeysant

Frohschammer, S. and J. Heinze. 2009. Male fighting and "territoriality" within colonies of the ant Cardiocondyla venustula. Naturwissenschaften. 96 (1): 159-163.

Dash, S. T. 2005. Species Diversity and biogeography of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Louisiana, with Notes on their Ecology. M.S. Thesis, Louisiana State University, 290 pp.

Deyrup, M., S. Cover, and L. Davis. 2000. Exotic ants in Florida. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 126 293-325.

Seifert, B. 2003. The ant genus Cardiocondyla (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae) - a taxonomic revision of the C. elegans, C. bulgarica, C. batesii, C. nuda, C. shuckardi, C. stambuloffii, C. wroughtonii, C. emeryi, and C. minutior species groups. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien. B. Bot. Zool. 104(B): 203-338.

Links

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Encyclopedia of Life: Cardiocondyla venustula