Name: Bullhorn Acacia Ant (Pseudomyrmex ferruginea)
Description: The acacia ant (Pseudomyrmex ferruginea) is a species of ant of the genus Pseudomyrmex. These arboreal, wasp-like ants have an orange-brown body around 3 mm in length and very large eyes.
Distribution: The acacia ant is best known and named for living in symbiosis with the bullhorn acacia (Acacia cornigera) throughout Central America.
Symbiotic Relationship: To repel herbivorous animals, various acacias protect their succulent leaves with one of several methods, including vicious-looking spines, repellent, noxious chemicals, and —as in the case of the bull's horn acacia— by developing a mutualism with the Acacia ant. The symbiotic relationship begins when a newly mated queen is attracted by the odor from the tree and starts nesting inside the large hollow acacia thorns. The queen nibbles into the thorn to lay 15–20 eggs to produce the first generation of workers. As the colony grows, more of the bulbous thorns get inhabited, and when the colony reaches some 400 individuals the ants start to act as gardeners.
Life Cycle: Nuptial flight occurs in warm weather at any time of the year. If an acacia thorn has not been opened by a previous occupant, the queen gnaws a circular hole to enter the thorn cavity. She lays 15 to 20 eggs, rears her first brood while remaining secluded inside the thorn. The population of the colony then increases to 150 workers within seven months, to 300 three months later, to 1,100 in two years, and to over 4,000 in three years.
Dymadex's blogs on bugs, including insects and arachnids. Insects are hexapod invertebrates like ants, beetles, bees, and flies. Arachnids are joint-legged invertebrates like spiders, scorpions, ticks, and harvestmen. Other organisms in this blog include centipede, millipede, and worms.
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