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Crematogaster atkinsoni Wheeler

Crematogaster atkinsoni, full face view of a worker (click image to enlarge).
Photo courtesy of
Crematogaster atkinsoni, side view of a worker (click image to enlarge). Note the very long propodeal spines.
Photo courtesy of
A carton nest of Crematogaster atkinsoni. (click image to see larger view of nest).
Photo courtesy of William Rodriguez-Cayro

Ants in the genus Crematogaster are often referred to as acrobat ants because of their propensity to arc the gaster upward and over the alitrunk in a manner that resembles a contortionist or acrobat. They are small, monomorphic ants. Workers have an 11-segmented antenna, the presence of variably long propodeal spines, a flattened petiole, and a somewhat heart-shaped gaster. The postpetiole is attached to the dorsal surface of the gaster, and this characteristic will differentiate this genus from other genera in our area.

Distinguishing features of Crematogaster atkinsoni are as follows. The pubescence on the head and thorax is appressed, the hairs on the head are fine and in orderly rows. Only 1 or 2 (rarely 3) erect hairs on each humeral shoulder of pronotum. The pronotal pleurae are mostly unsculpured with a large band having a smooth, reflective, or shiny surface. The propodeal spines are long, and in dorsal view the apices diverge from the longitudinal body axis.

This species is known to nest in both salt and freshwater marshes. They often build large carton nests on sedges or bushes (see image above). Nests may be more than 1ft above the ground can range in size from 3 to over 12 inches in diameter (Smith, D.R. 1979). The nest in the image above was found in a salt marsh in Sarasoto County, Florida by Anthony Pranschke, who stated that dozens of these nests were present in the area, some up to 16 inches in length.


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