Long Legged Ant (Aphaenogaster)

Aphaenogaster is a genus of myrmicine ants. Almost 200 species have been described, and 11 fossil species are known. They occur worldwide except from South America and Southern Africa.

They are often confused with Pheidole or Pheidologeton. These two have major and minor workers, while Aphaenogaster has only a single worker caste. Pheidole has a 3-segmented club on its antenna, while Aphaenogaster has four segments and a larger body size. Pheidologeton has a 11-segmented antenna, while the antenna in Aphaenogaster is 12-segmented.

They build very dense, conspicuous nests with many large entrances in a small area. These entrances can have diameters of up to 4 cm and are up to 30 cm deep, which resulted in the common name funnel ants. These nests can be a serious problem for golfers or on pastures and unsealed airstrips, because the fragile surface easily collapses under pressure.

Aphaenogaster probably gets most of its food from tended aphids on the roots of plants, which explains that they are rarely seen on the surface. The funnel-shaped openings could play a role in trapping arthropods, which are also eaten.

Although they are not aggressive, they will bite when their nest is disturbed.

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