Identifying the Pogonomyrmex of Arizona: Terminology

When I introduced this topic last time, I realized that:

  1. I didn’t define the terminology I was using, and
  2. I used some outdated terms.

For example, I mentioned spines on the epinotum as a characteristic of some species of Pogonomyrmex. About half of you probably asked, “What is an epinotum?” and the other half said, “It is now called the propodeum.” Mea culpa.

In his work, Pogonomyrmex Harvester Ants:  A Study of the Genus in North America, Arthur Cole uses “epinotum” to label the first abdominal segment in what is now called the mesosoma (the midsection of the ant). As Roberto Keller clarifies, the area is now called the propodeum. (See also David Louis Quinn’s discussion.)

Propodeum (in blue) armed with spines in an Acanthoponera minor worker (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)

To avoid further confusion, I’m going to develop a Pogonomyrmex glossary (and get myself into even deeper trouble).

Let’s start with:

Psammophore – the long hairs that form a basket shape on the under side of the ant’s head. Alex Wild has a fabulous post about psammophores.

I have to say although I realize there are excellent reasons for changing the names of both morphological characteristics and also species, it makes searching the older literature difficult. In these days of keywords reigning supreme, changing the keywords every few years results in loss of valuable information. Or maybe I’m just getting old 🙂

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