Tuesday, 19 February 2008


Thanks to Dave General for pointing me in the direction of the Ants of the Philippines website, which I wasn't aware of. This is despite me thinking of visiting the country to collect ants and at the same time visiting a (non-myrmecologist) Filipino friend.

Ah well, I can't know everything, and experiences teaches me that I know very little.

This has also led to the discovery that I'm listed on a respectable blog like The Ant Room... which is nice.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Near heart attack

Okay, so probably everyone's seen this now and I've arrived late at the party, but it reduces me to tears every time I watch it.

It seems like more evidence that panda conservation is a waste of money - they're obviously not fit for survival!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Tapinoma ambiguum

Update 19th April 2008: This specimen was not correctly identified, as it is actually T. simrothi subsp. festae. However, the images on AntWeb are still incorrectly labelled as T. ambiguum, so perhaps I shouldn't feel too bad!

I've been fairly quiet recently because I've been busy trying to identify ant specimens, rather than writing about them. However, this one deserves a special mention.

Back in September I attended a BWARS workshop on two pairs of closely related species. None of the species are especially common in the UK and one from each pair is more common than the other.

We were able to find two specimens of Stenamma westwoodii, a near endemic in the UK (it's also found in Belgium), to compare with S. debile. However, between all of us and the collection at Oxford University Museum we could not produce a single Tapinoma ambiguum to compare with T. erraticum - or at least if we did no one told me! I was rather disappointed, as I had seen T. erraticum many times from Europe, but had not once seen T. ambiguum.

A few weeks ago I agreed to look at some specimens collected by David M. King. One of the specimens from Turkey is a very obvious T. ambiguum, so I have now seen it! The attached photomontage [removed] shows the cloacal aperture, low petiole, four dorsally visible tergites on the gaster and shallow clypeal notch that characterises the species.

This appears to be the only reliably identified photograph of this species online, as the images named T. ambiguum on AntWeb are clearly T. erraticum. The depth of the clypeal notch on the AntWeb specimens is equal to their width, whereas in T. ambiguum the depth should be less than the width.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Camponotus flavomarginatus

Camponotus flavomarginatus is the only member of the subgenus Myrmosericus collected in The Gambia that provided no great difficulty to identify. It is distinguished by the smoothly rounded propodeum and the arrangement of the dense pubescence on the gaster, which is laid more or less straight back, rather than distinctly converging at the midline (compare with C. rufoglaucus subsp. controversus and C. cosmicus).

C. flavomarginatus is very widely distributed, being found from South Africa north to Saudi Arabia and west to Guinea. In The Gambia it was collected in the coastal areas (Kololi and Bijilo Forest Park), but did not appear to be present on Jinack Island. It was generally found as single workers running on the ground, though at Bijilo Forest Park it was collected from a palm frond.