Trachymyrmex turrifex

Rabeling, Ch., Cover, S. P., Johnson, R. A. & Mueller, U. G., 2007, A review of the North American species of the fungus-gardening ant genus Trachymyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1664, pp. 1-53: 22-24

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Trachymyrmex turrifex


T. turrifex (Wheeler)  HNS 

Atta (Trachymyrmex) turrifex Wheeler  HNS  , 1903: 100. Syntype workers and queens, Marfa , Presidio County  ; Fort Stockton , Pecos County  ; Del Rio and Langtry , Valverde County  ; Marble Falls , Burnet County  ; Austin , Travis County  ; Texas, U.S.A. ( AMNH, MCZC, USNM) [examined]

Trachymyrmex turrifex Wheeler  HNS  ; Gallardo 1916: 242 [Combination in Trachymyrmex  HNS  ]

Atta (Trachymyrmex) turrifex subsp. caroli Wheeler  HNS  , 1911: 248. Syntype workers, Huntsville , Walker County, Texas, U.S.A. (repository unknown)  [not examined] syn. nov.

Trachymyrmex turrifex caroli (Wheeler)  HNS  , Creighton 1950: 324 [Combination in Trachymyrmex  HNS  ]


Worker: HL 0.88-1.0, HW 0.8-0.96, CI 91-96, SL 0.72-0.8, SI 83-91, ML 1.2-1.4. A medium sized, species (HL 0.88-1.0, HW 0.8-0.96) with the shortest antennal scapes (SI 83-91) relative to head width of all US Trachymyrmex  HNS  species. The scapes reach or pass the posterior corner of the head by half its maximum diameter at most. Head slightly longer than broad (CI 91-96) with its maximum width close to the posterior border of head, tapering gradually from point of broadest width to mandibular insertion. Posterior margin moderately concave. Both preocular and frontal carinae long and subparallel, reaching back towards the posterior margin of head, forming well-developed antennal scrobes. In full face view, frontal lobes broad, rounded, describing a half circle. Anterolateral promesonotal teeth short, thin, in dorsal view sharply pointed, directed anterolaterally and upwards. Bases of median pronotal teeth fused, but the peaks of each tooth still distinguishable. Propodeal teeth pointed, almost twice as long as the distance between their bases. Dorsal body surface strongly tuberculate, tuberculi well developed, on first gastric tergite, sometimes connected through ridges. Tuberculi bearing long, dark, strongly recurved setae. Side of mesosoma less tuberculate, tuberculi smaller. Color is variable from yellowish brown to medium reddish brown.

Queen: HL 1.1-1.2, HW 1.1-1.2, CI 100, SL 0.85-1.0, SI 71-87, ML 1.7-1.8. As in the worker diagnosis, except for case-specific structures of the mesosoma related to wing-bearing. Dorsoventral pronotal teeth pointed, broadly triangular in dorsal view; ventrolateral pronotal teeth small, lobelike. Mesoscutum with moderately abundant, short, coarse, longitudinal rugulae and abundant small tuberculi, each bearing a stiff, more or less recurved suberect or decumbent seta. Rear border of scutellum projecting posteriorly as two lobelike teeth. First gastric tergite covered with small tubercles interconnected by a network of fine rugulae forming an almost geometric pattern; each tubercle bearing a stiff, recurved, decumbent setae.

Male: HL 0.7-0.75, HW 0.6, CI 80-86, SL 0.7-0.75, SI 117-125, ML 1.5-1.6. A distinctive Trachymyrmex  HNS  male easily recognized by the general lack of tuberculi on all body surfaces. In addition, the rear border of the antennal scrobe is poorly defined or absent. Dorsoventral pronotal teeth small, triangular, usually sharply pointed; ventrolateral pronotal teeth absent. Mesoscutum sparsely to moderately longitudinally rugulose, interrugal spaces finely granulate. In dorsal view, rear border of scutellum forming two triangular teeth that project posteriorly. First gastric tergite finely granulate with scattered punctures bearing fine, appressed recurved setae.


Trachymyrmex turrifex  HNS  is distinguished from other North American species by its well-developed antennal scrobes. Only the allopatric T. jamaicensis  HNS  has comparably developed antennal scrobes, but it may be easily distinguished from T. turrifex  HNS  by its larger size, reddish-black coloration and shorter clypeal pilosity (as described in the key).

Trachymyrmex turrifex  HNS  is distributed throughout Texas, northeastern Mexico, western Louisiana, and barely reaches southern Oklahoma. Individuals are somewhat variable in size, and color varies from light yellowish brown to dark reddish-brown. Wheeler (1903) described turrifex  HNS  from several localities in Central Texas, and T. turrifex caroli  HNS  as a subspecies of T. turrifex  HNS  from Huntsville, Texas (1911). Wheeler 's reasoning was that caroli  HNS  "represents a depauperate, arenicolous race ranging considerably eastwards of the typical turrifex  HNS  " (Wheeler 1911, p. 248). Wheeler distinguished between these two "subspecies" based on the smaller body size, brownish yellow coloration, smaller tubercles, and lack of longitudinal impression on first gastric tergite in T. turrifex caroli  HNS  . In our experience, all of these character states fall well within the variation observed within and among colonies of typical turrifex  HNS  , as seen throughout its known geographic range, which now extends to western Louisiana and places Huntsville towards the center of T. turrifex  HNS  's distribution (Figure 24C). Since we were not able to locate Wheeler 's type specimens of T. turrifex caroli  HNS  , we collected fresh material at the type locality in Huntsville, Texas. These specimens were morphologically not different from other examined turrifex  HNS  . Lastly, our DNA sequence information indicates that caroli  HNS  is also genetically not distinct from turrifex  HNS  (Figure 21). We therefore synonymize T. turrifex caroli  HNS  with T. turrifex  HNS  .


The epithet for T. turrifex  HNS  is derived from its characteristic turretlike nest entrances, which are built from soil particles and leaf litter debris.


The geographic range of T. turrifex  HNS  is centered in Texas and extends into southern Oklahoma, western Louisiana, and south into the Mexican States of Chihuahua and Tamaulipas (Figure 24C).

T. turrifex  HNS  is abundant in open desert habitats of west Texas, the black clay soils of central Texas and is somewhat less abundant in the sandy soils of eastern Texas and western Louisiana. Dense populations occur in southern Texas, particularly in the Rio Grande Valley. When occurring sympatrically in sandy soils with T. septentrionalis  HNS  , T. turrifex  HNS  is less abundant, but the reverse pattern occurs in black clay soils where turrifex  HNS  is usually more common than septentrionalis  HNS  . The characteristic turretlike nest entrances, which are built from soil particles and plant litter debris during the wetter parts of the year, are a diagnostic character for turrifex  HNS  in the field. Turrets are absent during winter dormancy and are reduced or absent in summer, particularly after a period of drought. Nests consist of 1-5 chambers, which are connected by vertical tunnels. Colonies are monogynous and contain up to 300 workers.

Additional material examined: U.S.A.: Louisiana, Beauregard Parish: De Ridder (WF Buren)  ; Rapides Parish: Alexandria (WF Buren)  ; Vernon Parish: 7mi E Pickering (UG Mueller)  ; Webster Parish: 3mi W Sibley (UG Mueller)  ; Oklahoma, Love County: I35 & Red River , 200m N (UG Mueller)  ; Texas, Austin County: Rt. 3013 crossing San Bernard River (UG Mueller)  ; Bastrop County: Stengl Biological Station (UG Mueller, C Rabeling)  ; Baylor County: Round Timber (UG Mueller)  ; Blanco County: Rt. 3232, 3mi N Rt. 290 (UG Mueller)  , Pedernales State Park (UG Mueller, C Rabeling)  ; Brewster County: 18mi NE Marathon (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  , 6mi E Alpine (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  , 6mi SE Panther Junction (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Brooks County: Falfurrias (TFM McGehee)  ; Burnet County: Inks Lake State Park (NA Weber)  , Cameron County: Brownsville (UG Mueller)  , Harlingen (WF Buren, BC Stephenson)  , La Feria (WS Creighton, PT Riherd, RR Snelling)  , Resaca de Palma State Park (UG Mueller)  , Santa Rosa (UG Mueller)  , South Padre Island, Isla Blanca State Park (UG Mueller)  ; Crass County: Atlanta State Park (JV Moody)  ; Colorado County: Columbus (WF Buren)  ; Crockett County: 15mi S Rankin (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  , Ozona (AC Cole)  ; Crosby County: 10mi S Crosbytown (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Culberson County: Guadalupe Mountains Nat. Park (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Denton County: 8mi W Lewisville (JV Moody)  , Ray Roberts Lake State Park (UG Mueller)  ; Dickens County: 13.5mi N Dickens (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Dimmit County: 15mi NW Carrizo Springs (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Donley County: 4mi N Clarendon (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Fisher County: 5.2mi N Rotan (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Floyd County: 4.5mi S Floydada (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Franklin County: I-30 to Mt. Pleasant (UG Mueller)  ; Garza County: 2mi SW Post (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Gillespie County: 10.1mi N Fredericksburg (Bartell & Beckham)  ; Grayson County: Eisenhower State Park (JV Moody)  ; Hall County: 6mi SE Turkey (CW O 'Brian)  ; Hardeman County: Copper Breaks State Park (UG Mueller)  ; Haskell County: 13.3mi NE Haskell (Bartell, Beckham, Cooper, Henderson & Neece)  ; Henderson County: Walnut Creek (WM Wheeler)  ; Hidalgo County: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (UG Mueller, C Rabeling)  , Edinburgh (WL Sterling)  , Weslaco (WM Buren)  , Monte Cristo Tract (UG Mueller)  ; Hood County: Granbury (UG Mueller)  ; Howard County: 11mi NW Big Springs (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Irion County: 22mi N Barnhart (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Jeff Davis County: 4mi S Fort Davis (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  , Davis Mtns. (AC Cole)  ; Kendall County: 3.9mi SW Boerne (Bartell & Beckham)  ; Kenedy County: 2mi N Sarita (UG Mueller)  ; Kent County: 5mi SW Clairemont (JV Moody)  ; Knox County: Rt.266 & Brazos River (UG Mueller)  ; Lee County: Lake Somerville State Park (UG Mueller)  ; Llano County: Kingsland (UG Mueller)  ; Lubbock County: Lubbock (JV Moody)  ; Maverick County: 11.5mi SE Eagle Pass (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Medina County: Natalia, I-35 Rest Area (UG Mueller)  ; Midland County: 17mi S Midland (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Montague County: Lake Nacona (UG Mueller)  ; Motley County: 4mi NW Matador (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Nolan County: 18.6mi S Sweetwater (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Palo Pinto County: Oaks Crossing (UG Mueller)  ; Pecos County: Fort Stockton (AC Cole)  ; Refugio County: Refugio, Mission River Park (UG Mueller)  ; Robertson County: 3.1mi NE Jct. OSR & FM1940 (SJ Merritt)  ; Salle County: Millet (UG Mueller)  ; Scurry County: 7.mi W Ira (WD Wisdom)  ; Smith County: Tyler State Park (UG Mueller)  ; Starr County: Falcon State Park (UG Mueller)  ; Tom Green County: 15mi NW San Angelo (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Travis County: Austin (MH Long, UG Mueller, C Rabeling, JJ Scott)  , Bull Creek Park (UG Mueller, C Rabeling)  , Hamilton Pool Reserve (UG Mueller, C Rabeling)  ; Upshur County: Rhonesboro (UG Mueller)  ; Uvalde County: Uvalde (ACF Hung, UG Mueller)  , Val Verde County: Del Rio (UG Mueller)  ; Walker County: Huntsville (C Rabeling & UG Mueller)  ; Washington County: Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park (UG Mueller)  ; Webb County: 52.5mi N Laredo (OF Francke, JV Moody & TB Hall)  ; Willacy County: 0.7mi S Kenedy County border (UG Mueller)  ; Wise County: 7.5mi SW Bridgeport (JV Moody)  ; Wood County: 9mi E Minneola on US 80 (JV Moody)  ; Young County: Fort Belknap (UG Mueller)  ; Zapata County: Falcon State Park (UG Mueller)  ; Zava County: Pryor (UG Mueller)  ; MEXICO: Nuevo Leon, Vallecillo (E Buren)  ; Tamaulipas, near Cuidad Victoria (Flores-Maldonado)  .


USA, New York, New York, American Museum of Natural History


USA, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology


USA, Washington D.C., National Museum of Natural History, [formerly, United States National Museum]