The Queenless Ponerine Ant.
This is a medium
sized ponerine ant about 8 - 10 mm long.
They are black but in sunlight take on a
glaucous appearance which is caused by a
fine covering of brown hairs.
The actual exact
identification of this species is difficult
as there are 25 subspecies and varieties
of D. rugosum recorded - many of which are only differentiated
by microscopic details.
It is a hunter gatherer
species that is equally active both day and
night. Single solitary workers roam tropical
forests looking for food which usually
consists of dead insects and to a lesser
extent any sweet secretions they can find.
If a forager discovers food which is too
heavy to carry back to its nest alone, it
will return to the nest and lead a small
group of workers which move in a tandem fashion
across the forest floor to the food source.
They are very inquisitive
and will test any object put within reach
for its food potential. Away from the nest
they are not overly aggressive and tend to
shy away from confrontation.
This species does
not have a queen caste and a mated worker
called a "gamergate" acts as a
functional queen. There is only one dominant
egg layer in each colony which is indistinguishable
from the other workers - as they are all
the same size and form.
At intervals the
colonies will produce males which are yellowish
red with very long antennae - these will
mate with receptive workers and then the
colony will split and a new colony will be
created some distance away.
In the wild nests
of very small ants are frequently found in
close proximity to the Diacamma nests. These species benefit from the protection
the larger Diacamma offer and feed on the leftovers of their
This suggests that
the Diacamma could be kept in a community tank with
other much smaller non aggressive species.
They form small
colonies from 50 to 100 individuals and usually
nest in open deciduous forests at lowland
altitudes. They always nest in the ground
constructing three to four small chambers
about six inches below the surface. The nests
notably only have a single entrance which
is often surrounded by a small mound of excavated
earth. They will frequently change their
nesting sites if conditions become unfavorable
or if their nests are disturbed.