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> > Two ants together -- same species or different?

The Specimen

Formicidae (Ants) Ant AdultFormicidae (Ants) Insect Adult View 7 PicturesI collected this flying ant from the surface of a popular Catskill trout stream, where its species prompted steady rising from selective trout for several late-morning hours. It was mixed with smaller ants of a different color, and I photographed one of them too.
Collected September 5, 2006 from the Neversink River in New York
Added to by on October 3, 2006

The Discussion

TroutnutOctober 3rd, 2006, 8:17 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
I had a great morning fishing to flying ants in the Catskills on September 5th. At least a few fish were rising steadily in every pool on my selected stretch of the Neversink, and flying ants were abundant in the air and on the water for hours.

There were two types of ants which I collected and photographed this large, rusty-tinted variety and a smaller type. I'm curious: were they two different species, or different-looking males and females of the same species?

Many ants were descending to the water in pairs, presumably mating. I hadn't yet noticed the difference in sizes, so I didn't check to see if each pair had one large and one small ant.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
TroutnutOctober 24th, 2006, 9:59 am
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
I got a great answer to this question by email from Dr. Greg Paulson, who teaches entomology in the biology department at Shippensburg University. They are two different species:

I haven't had time to come up with a definitive id but those ants are two different species. Winged males and females can be easily differentiated by the size of the head relative to the thorax. When viewed from above a male's head is almost always narrower than the thorax. The head of a female is as wide, or wider, than the thorax.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist

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