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I mentioned in recent post that the black harvester ants Messor pergandei are also reported in the older literature as Veromessor pergandei.

After seeing a 2017 article which used the name Veromessor, I decided ask for an update from one of the authors, Dr. Christina Kwapich, who is currently at Arizona State University.

Dr. Kwapich was kind enough to explain that the status of the name had been up in the air until Ward et al. (2015) used DNA techniques to sort it out during a major revamping to the ant subfamily Myrmicinae. So, Veromessor pergandei it is.

Check out Dr. Kwapich's research on Veromessor in this video.

Ant research at Arizona State University from ASU Now on Vimeo.

She let us know that she's doing some work on worker size and nest architecture that will come out this summer. We're looking forward to it.

Kwapich, C. L., Gadau, J., & Hölldobler, B. (2017). The ecological and genetic basis of annual worker production in the desert seed harvesting ant, Veromessor pergandei. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71(8), [110]. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-017-2333-1

Ward, P.S. S. G. Brady, B. L. Fisher, T. R. Schultz. (2015). The evolution of myrmicine ants: phylogeny and biogeography of a hyperdiverse ant clade (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Systematic Entomology. 40 (1): 61–81. DOI: 10.1111/syen.12090

It rained last night and it was about 40° F this morning, so I had trouble finding insects to photograph.

I did find something in this decomposing grapefruit:

rover ants.

Nothing ever seems to faze rover ants.

In addition to the Ants of the Southwest Class, the Ant Course is another great way to learn about ants.  It is being offered August 22 to September 1, 2018 in French Guiana at the Nouragues Field station. Seventeen lucky individuals will be chosen to attend.

Sponsored by California Academy of Sciences and Center for the study of biodiversity in Amazonia (CEBA), the Ant Course is intended to help both professionals and interested amateurs learn about identification, behavior, and ecology of ants.

It isn't offered every year. The last time was in 2015. You can see previous faculty and students by visiting the Ant Course yearbook.

If you'd like to apply, there's a link to a Google form towards the top of the page. You will need to complete the application by April 1, 2018, and be prepared to give the name of a reference when you fill it out.

Hop on over to the Ant Course website for full details.

If you have gone in the past, we'd love to hear from you how it was.

It's time again to start thinking which ant classes you're going to take this summer.

The American Museum of Natural History's Ants of the Southwest Class is being held August 12 through 21, 2018 at the Southwestern Research Station in Portal, Arizona.

You might envision that Arizona is just a bunch of inhospitable cacti, but that's actually not the case. There's a diversity of plants in the area around Portal.

Plus, the cacti that do grow there have extrafloral nectaries, which make them attractive to ants.

It is also a fantastic place to study many different kinds of ants. We have honeypot ants, army ants, leafcutter ants, bigheaded ants, and harvester ants, to name just a few. It's an awesome area for anyone interested in biology to explore.

What does the course cover? Among other things, students will be given the opportunity to study behavior and communication in ants, learn how to keep ant colonies in the laboratory, make an ant reference collection, and learn some photography techniques.

Cost: Tuition is still $1206 (includes room and board).

If you are interested, you will need to fill out the application form at the course website by July 1, 2018. You will be notified if you are accepted, at which time you'll need to pay the fees.

Note:  We also posted information about another ant class, the California Academy of Sciences Ant Course.