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Stephanie & Corey's Ants & Other Insects From Spain
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Images of Ants & Other Insects Collected by Stephanie & Corey in Spain
Updated by W.P. Armstrong, 25 July 2021
1. The Remarkable Golden Egg Bug: Phyllomorpha laciniata
2. The Very Flexible Acrobat Ant: Crematogaster scutellaris
3. An Iberian Peninsula Native Ant: Aphaenogaster iberica
4. Uncertain Ant Species From Spain As Of 28 July 2021

1. Phyllomorpha laciniata: A Member of Leaf-Footed Bug Family (Coreidae)
This Unusual Bug (Order Heteroptera) is Also Called "Golden Egg Bug"

The Bug That Laid The Golden Eggs!
This unusual little bug is about 1 cm or 0.39 in (less than half an inch). It is native to the Mediterranean region. In fact, its native host plant upon which it lays its eggs is called Algerian tea (Paronychia argentea). An interesting fact about this bug is that it also lays eggs on other individuals of its own species who act as "mobile nests." These egg carriers provide more protection for the eggs than static locations on the host plant leaves & stems. This insect is called the "golden egg bug" because its tiny oval eggs are the color of gold. There are a number of articles on the Internet about this remarkable little bug

I uploaded my image of Golden Egg Bug plus the collection location in Rota, Spain to iNaturalist. It was identified by several bug experts in just over an hour! This is pretty amazing.

Phyllomorpha laciniata was featured on a postage stamp in Hungary. I have also seen Internet images of this species from Turkey and Portugal, so it apparently has a wide distribution in Europe. Its type locality where the original type specimen was collected is southwestern Europe. I must say that it would be fun to find and photograph its golden eggs!


2. Acrobat Ant (Crematogaster scutellaris)

The acrobat ant (Crematogaster scutellaris), a widespread species throughout Europe and the Mediterranean region. The body length is 3.0 mm although they can be a little longer. The name "acrobat" refers to their very flexible petiole & postpetiole that enables them to hold their gaster above the body. See following image of a local species from Daley Ranch in Escondido.

The name "acrobat ant" refers to the unusual way a worker holds its abdomen (gaster) up over the rest of its body by a very flexible petiole.

Crematogaster scutellaris is a natural predator of the moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa), a devastating pest of Mediterranean pines, especially the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis).This ant also preys on the fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes), symbiotic pollinator of fig trees (Ficus carica) that inhabit this region.


3. Interesting Ant From The Iberian Peninsula (Aphaenogaster iberica)

The elongate, oval head of this Iberian Aphaenogaster is very distinctive. It is similar to larger Aphaenogaster species I have seen from Arizona and Texas; however, the latter species have now been moved to the genus Novomessor. In fact, I became rather attached to Novomessor cockerelli in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. I could hand feed them Nature Valley Granola and they actually seemed friendly and curious. Another similar species N. albisetosis attacked and bit quite hard when I attempted to pick them up.

Long-Legged Ant (Aphaenogaster = Novomessor)

Two species of Aphaenogaster (A. cockerelli and A. albisetosus) that I have photographed in Arizona and New Mexico are now placed in the genus Novomessor. The large size, long legs, and elongate head of this ant certainly resembles A. cockerelli. If it is the latter species, it would be properly named Novomessor cockerelli.


4. Uncertain Ant Species From Spain

I was unable to make a positive ID on the ants in above image. They resemble similar species in California; however, I am hesitant to make assumptions without more detailed characteristics in a key for ants of Spain. Based on my ant images from California, Arizona & Maui, I have listed a few suggested names of species that they superficially resemble:

A., B?, F? Messor barbarus (Polymorphic) See image of similar M. pergandei.

C. Formica with 3 ocelli--see following head image of black species similar to F. decipiens.

D. Tapinoma sessile?

E. Forelius? Lack of antennal club & postpetiole rules out Monomorium.


Messor pergandei from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This name has been changed to Veromessor pergandei. This common desert species is one of my best ant images.


Magnified Head View Of Uncertain Ant "C" (Formica?).
Worker ants in some genera have 3 small, simple eyes, called ocelli, on their forehead. Based on the overall body shape & profile, this may be one of the many European field ants (genus Formica). Possibly F. decipiens. Other black species listed for Spain include F. fusca, F. gagates, F. lemani, and F. picea.

Ocelli (singular ocellus) are simple photo-receptors (light detecting organs). They consist of a single lens and several sensory cells. Unlike compound eyes, ocelli do not form a complex image of the environment but are used to detect movement. The role of ocelli in the stabilization of flight is relatively well-studied in winged insects, but little is known about the use of ocelli by walking insects. It was shown by Wehner (Insect & Robot Navigation, 2011) for the ant genus Cataglyphis that they use their ocelli to extract celestial compass information.

Another Field Ant (Formica subsericea) From N. U.S. & Canada
Collected by Ant Hunter Stephanie Zeauskas in Glasgow, Delaware, USA