Plagiolepis (Anoplolepis) custodiens (F. Smith),

Wheeler, W. M., 1922, The ants collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition., Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 45, pp. 39-269: 212-213

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Plagiolepis (Anoplolepis) custodiens (F. Smith)


Plagiolepis (Anoplolepis) custodiens (F. Smith)  HNS 

Plate XIX, Figures 1 and 2

Banana, [[worker]], [[queen]], [[male]]; San Antonio, [[worker]] (Lang and Chapin).

At Banana this species was found nesting in flat craters in the pure sand of the sea-beach (Pl. XIX, figs. 1 and 2). According to a note by Mr. Lang, "the ants were found very near the water, where the sand was moved by the wind or even inundated by the breakers. Only a slight excavation, marking the entrance of the nest, was visible, and it was difficult to trace out the galleries. These ants carry particles of sand considerable distances, sometimes two or three feet from the nestentrances. They work during the day-time and retreat into their nests when disturbed."

P. custodiens  HNS  has been previously taken in Banana by Busschodts and in Angola by Silvestri, and is well known from other parts of the Ethiopian Region as far north as Abyssinia and as far south as the Cape.

It is the host of P. nuptialis Santschi  HNS  , which was discovered by Dr. Brauns at Willowmore, Cape Province. Up to the present time only males of this ant have been taken. Dr. Brauns, who sent me a series of them, writes me March 24, 1920, as follows: "I am well aware of the interest attaching to the parasitic habits of P. nuptialis  HNS  . Hitherto I have been unable to discover the female, but hope to unearth it eventually. The males always come out of the nests of P. custodiens  HNS  and most years are not uncommon at Willowmore. I also found the male flying in numerous swarms over the Keurbooms River on the coast, near Plettenberg Bay, during a rain-storm, but could nowhere find them in copula with females. Perhaps the female is unable to fly! The males often remain for months at a time in the custodiens  HNS  nests before swarming, which occurs only during a shower. The nests of P. custodiens  HNS  and steingrdveri are frequently close together, but the latter does not harbor nuptialis  HNS  , though both species usually have the same myrmecophiles. At Willowmore steingr-veri is showing a tendency to displace custodiens  HNS  ." It would seem from Dr. Brauns' observations that nuptialis  HNS  , like the North American species of Epoecus  HNS  , Sympheidole  HNS  , and Epipheidole  HNS  , must be a workerless parasite.