What is it about?

This is one of a series of studies presenting the number of larval stages and their morphology of common and widespread South American ants. The larvae of the brown tree-inhabiting ant Myrmelachista catharinae are described for the first time, highlighting on a series of structural adaptations of these insects to their lifestyle. For instance, their mature larvae has special whip-like dorsal hairs that might have evolved for facilitating adhesion to bark and nest walls inside their colonies.

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Why is it important?

Larval descriptions are essential, but remains a markedly neglected topic in entomology. In principle, knowing all developmental stages of study models should be a necessity, and specialists ought to be able to recognise major groups and perhaps species based on trivial larval characters. However, given a profound gap in curated knowledge about development and larval stages in insects, rare is the case where these assumptions are met. This work is part of a major effort in expanding the knowledge about larval development and morphology in ants.

Perspectives

Each larval description we have published added novel information and methods to this field of knowledge. We intend to advance this kind of study whenever conditions allow -- funding and general interest in this line of research are unstable. Concerning Myrmelachista, we plan on checking for species-specific traits within groups of species as to draw a panorama about the evolving characters. Biological functional observations are greatly desired, if we manage to rear colonies in the laboratory. Hope other colleagues will join this line of investigation!

Dr Eduardo G P Fox
IBCCF / UFRJ

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This page is a summary of: Description of the Immatures of the Ant,Myrmelachista catharinae, Journal of Insect Science, February 2011, Oxford University Press (OUP), DOI: 10.1673/031.011.0124.
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