Ant (Southern ant) Monomorium antarcticum
Species: M. antarcticum
Binomial name: Monomorium antarcticum
Synonyms: Atta antarctica, Monomorium fulvum, Tetramorium nitidum, Monomorium suteri, Monomorium integrum, Monomorium succineum, Aphenogaster antartica, Monomorium Notomyrmex) rapaense, Formica Antarctica, Monomorium nitidum,Monomorium (Notomyrmex) antarcticum, Monomorium (Notomyrmex) integrum, Monomorium (Notomyrmex) nitidum, Monomorium (Notomyrmex) succineum, Chelaner antarcticus, Chelaner antarctica
Common name: Southern ant.
Monomorium antarcticum is an ant endemic to New Zealand and is found across the North and South Islands, as well as Stewart Island and the smaller offshore islands, the Three Kings Islands, the Chatham Islands, the Kermadec Islands and the Austral Islands in French Polynesia. It is found throughout many habitats including native forest, grasslands, wetlands, pastureland, household gardens as well as horticultural and industrial habitats. It probably New Zealand's most common native ant species.
Monomorium antarcticum worker specimens are variable in size, usually 3-5mm in length, with a head width varying from 0.60-0.88mm. The antennae have 12 segments, with a three-segmented club. A metanotal groove is present either distinctly or weakly impressed. Spines on the propodeum are either blunt or absent. The colour is highly variable across colonies (but usually consistent within colonies), from orange, light to dark brown and black. This species has a generalist diet, including small arthropods, nectar, and seeds, and it also and “milking” homopterans such as aphids, scale insects, and mealybugs to obtain honeydew. They can be a minor nuisance due to their attraction to a variety of foods, but they do not forage indoors.
The three photos below are of winged female ant of the species Monomorium antarcticum. She has left the nest and now looking for a flying male to mate with. After mating and full with a li\fetime of sperm, she flys far away from the original nest. She settles on the ground and drops her wings and she does not need them for her future subterranean life. She starts digging and makes an underground chamber. When completed she starts laying her fertilized eggs and hence starts a new colony.
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