Wednesday, 2 January 2008


The latter few months of 2007 seemed bring encounters with an unusual number of freak ant specimens, unfortunately none of which were collected by me.

First, an ant with a third eye, a Myrmica as I recall, was brought to the BWARS workshops in September. At least, it appeared to be like a third eye. It was a black area that was partially buried in the cuticle of the head, but where it came to the surface it did have a bobbly appearance like that of a compound eye.

The ant presumably used the eye for seeing into the future.

Then before Christmas I looked properly at a specimen lent to me by Cedric Collingwood some months ago. He knew that I was working on the ants of The Gambia and had a few specimens in his collection. This specimen had been collected by Nicolas Blacker and identified by Cedric as Camponotus vividus, but it was unlike any of the specimens I had collected. I finally got around to identifying all the Camponotus I collected in the Gambia and discovered that I did have C. vividus, so needed to check why Cedric's were different. To my surprise I discovered that the specimen is actually a pseudogyne (between a queen and a worker). It is larger, paler and more matt, with a more developed mesosoma and one pair of barely developed tiny 'wings'. It may be the only pseudogyne of that species in any collection.

Finally, right at the end of 2007, C-G Magnusson posted some photos of an ant for ID to the BWARS discussion group. It was agreed that it looked most like a queen of a Camponotus... or a Lasius, but it had a very unusual shaped petiole, being so deeply emarginate that it had two erect blunt spines there instead.

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