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Dolichoderus mariae Forel, 1885

By Joe A. MacGown, Uploaded 2009, last updated 2 December 2015

Dolichoderus mariae, full face view of a worker, Horry Co., SC (Photo by James Lewis and Joe A. MacGown)
Dolichoderus mariae, lateral view of a worker, Horry Co., SC (Photo by James Lewis and Joe A. MacGown)
Dolichoderus mariae, dorsal view of a worker, Horry Co., SC (Photo by James Lewis and Joe A. MacGown)
Dolichoderus mariae, side view of a worker, Emanuel Co., GA (Photo by Joe A. MacGown)
Dolichoderus mariae, side view of a worker Emanuel Co., GA (Photo by Joe A. MacGown)

Dolichoderus species found in the U.S are small to medium sized ants. They are atypical compared to other North American Dolichoderinae in that the integument is harder, and not as thin and flexible as in our other Dolichoderine genera. Additionally, they can be characterized by having strong sculpture on the alitrunk, and by the declivious face of the propodeum being strongly concave (see side view above). Species found in the U.S. possess "repugnatorial" glands, which produce a pungent or smoky smelling volatile secretion (Creighton 1950).

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2015)
Mayr, 1886: 436 (q.); Wheeler, 1905: 306 (m.); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1966: 726 (l.). Combination in Dolichoderus (Hypoclinea): Emery, 1894: 229. Senior synonym of Dolichoderus blatchleyi, Dolichoderus davisi: Creighton, 1950: 334. See also: Smith, 1979: 1415; Johnson, 1989: 2; MacKay, 1993: 75; Shattuck, 1994: 58.

Worker: A medium sized species about 3.5 to 4.0 mm in total length; mesosomal length approximately 1.2 mm; HW about 0.8 mm; and HL about 8.5 mm. Head, mesosoma, and appendages orangish brown to dark reddish brown and gaster darker, almost black, often with orangish to reddish brown patches on first tergite. Head slightly longer than wide. In lateral view, propodeum raised, strongly arched, and declivious area deeply concave. Propodeum longer than wide in dorsal view; posterior edge entire, not notched. Mesonotal groove deeply impressed. Upper half of head (posterior half), mesosomal dorsum, sides of pronotum, and gaster shiny, with fine punctation, lacking strong sculpture; Anterior region of head below eyes with foveolate sculpture; mesopleura with strong punctation; and propodeum with strong reticulation sculpture. Head and body mostly lacking erect setae dorsally, a few erect setae present beneath head, occasionally 1 or 2 on antennal scapes, and several on gaster (mostly on the underside).

Biology and Economic Importance
According to Creighton (1950), this species prefers to live in pure sand, often in fields or other grassy areas. Nests are typically made underneath grass tufts or small bushes. Mature colonies are large with thousands of individuals present. They collect the sweet secretions produced by various homopterans and eat other insects for sustenance.

Widely distributed in the eastern U.S. and in the Southeast it has been reported from AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, and TN. Although this species is widespread in eastern US, it is not a species we find with regularity.

Literature Cited

Bolton, B. 2015. An online catalog of the ants of the world. Online at: Accessed 1 December 2015.

Creighton, W. S. 1950. The ants of North America. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 104:1-585. 

Emery, C. 1894. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. VI-XVI. Bullettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 26:137-241. 

MacKay, W. P. 1993. A review of the New World ants of the genus Dolichoderus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 22:1-148. 

Mayr, G. 1886d. Die Formiciden der Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika. Verhandlungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Zoologisch-Botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 36:419-464.

Smith, D. R. 1979. Superfamily Formicoidea. Pp. 1323-1467 in: Krombein, K. V.; Hurd, P. D.; Smith, D. R.; Burks, B. D. (eds.) 1979. Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Volume 2. Apocrita (Aculeata). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. i-xvi, 1199-2209. 

Shattuck, S. O. 1994. Taxonomic catalog of the ant subfamilies Aneuretinae and Dolichoderinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). University of California Publications in Entomology 112:i-xix, 1-241.

Wheeler, W. M. 1905. The North American ants of the genus Dolichoderus. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 21:305-319.

Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1966. Ant larva of the subfamily Dolichoderinae: supplement. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 59:726-732.