Sunday, 25 November 2007

Extreme myrmecology: Monomorium mictile

Monomorium mictile has to be the smallest ant I have ever found. It is very inconspicuous.

I started off with four specimens, but misplaced two before I could look at them properly (I still don't know how). I selected one of the two specimens to be mounted and, whilst I was getting everything ready, I brushed a bit of dust off my microscope stage. I knew what I had done as soon as I had done it - the bit of dust was the ant. It was no good looking for it on the floor, as it was gone.

This left me with just one, which had not died in a position that was conducive to mounting and I felt that trying to fix this would be too risky on such a small specimen. This is why the specimen in the photograph is not as well mounted as most others.

Bolton (1987) comments that material of this species is relatively scarce; it's not hard to see why!

M. mictile is widespread in Africa, found from South Africa north to Mali and Sudan. It as collected once in The Gambia from a tree in the coastal scrub on Jinack Island.

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