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Article
Published: 2022-03-03

Morphology of immatures of the thelytokous ant, Monomorium triviale Wheeler (Formicidae: Myrmicinae: Solenopsidini) with descriptions of the extraordinary last-instar queen larvae

Laboratory of Insect Ecology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.
Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Engineering and Institute for Integrative Neurobiology, Konan University, 8-9-1 Okamoto, Higashinada-ku, Kobe, 658-8501, Japan.
Department of General Systems Studies, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Komaba, Meguro, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan.
Hymenoptera larval morphology Pharaoh ant parthenogenesis phenotypic plasticity protuberance chaetotaxy

Abstract

The ant genus Monomorium is one of the most species-rich but taxonomically problematic groups in the hyperdiverse subfamily Myrmicinae. An East Asian species, M. triviale Wheeler, produces both reproductive queens and sterile workers via obligate thelytokous parthenogenesis. Here, we describe the immature forms of M. triviale based on light and scanning electron microscopy observations, with a note on the striking caste dimorphism in the last larval instar. The last-instar queen larvae were easily recognized by their large size, “aphaenogastroid” body shape, and rows of doorknob-like tubercles on the lateral and dorsal body surface. This type of queen-specific structure has not been found in ants in general, let alone congeneric species found in Japan. In stark contrast to the queen larvae, worker larvae showed a “pheidoloid” body shape and a body surface similar to other ants. The worker larvae were estimated to have three instars, consistent with previously described congeners. The pupae of both castes had no cocoon, a characteristic commonly described in other Myrmicinae species. In total, the developmental period from egg to adult worker averaged 59 days under 25°C. We discuss possible functions of the tubercles of queen larvae based on previous studies.

 

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