Rafael X. Camargo, Paulo S. Oliveira
Journal of Insect Science 12 (48), 1-9, (1 April 2012) https://doi.org/10.1673/031.012.4801
KEYWORDS: activity rhythms, Atlantic forest, Brazil, bromeliad-nesting ants, canopy-dwelling ants, Formicidae, nocturnal ants, Ponerinae
The ecology of most arboreal ants remains poorly documented because of the difficulty in accessing ant nests and foragers in the forest canopy. This study documents the nesting and foraging ecology of a large (∼13 mm total length) arboreal trap—jaw ant, Odontomachus hastatus (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in a sandy plain forest on Cardoso Island, off the coast of Southeast Brazil. The results showed that O. hastatus nested in root clusters of epiphytic bromeliads, most commonly Vriesea procera (70% of nest plants). Mature O. hastatus colonies include one to several queens and about 500 workers. Foraging by O. hastatus is primarily nocturnal year—round, with increased foraging activity during the wet/warm season. The foragers hunt singly in the trees, preying on a variety of canopy—dwelling arthropods, with flies, moths, ants, and spiders accounting for > 60% of the prey captured. Although predators often have impacts on prey populations, the ecological importance of O. hastatus remains to be studied.