Tetramorium immigrans

Geographic Range

Tetramorium immigrans are ants in the family Myrmicine. Commonly known as pavement ants, they are native to Europe and the Mediterranean. They appeared in American cities sometime in the 19th century or earlier. Despite not being native to the United States, pavement ants are currently very common. Their range is fragmented and difficult to define. (Cordonnier, et al., 2020; MacGown and Whitehouse, 2017)

Habitat

Pavement ants form colonies under stones, debris, and other objects. Commonly found near urban areas, they may live near pavement, roads, parks, construction areas, and inside of buildings. They get their name from their tendency to create nests in areas near pavement. (MacGown and Whitehouse, 2017)

Physical Description

Pavement ants average about 0.8 mm in length. They are dull and dark brown to blackish. They are rarely reddish colored. Queen ants are slightly larger than workers and males. Pavement ants are notably difficult to differentiate from other species in their genus. Their identifying characteristics are their 11 to 12-segmented antennae, three-segmented antennae club, and two-segmented waist. Females have a thick black median stripe. (Cordonnier, et al., 2020; MacGown and Whitehouse, 2017)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range length
    0.713 to 0.935 mm
    0.03 to 0.04 in
  • Average length
    0.834 mm
    0.03 in

Development

Pavement ants go through the same stages of development as other ants in the genus Tetramorium.

Reproduction

Pavement ants are a eusocial species. Only one to several females mate, while all the other females do not. (Cordonnier, et al., 2020)

Pavement ants are known to hybridize with the species Tetramorium caespitum. The hybrid offspring they produce are fertile and able to reproduce. (Cordonnier, et al., 2020; Wagner, et al., 2018)

Multiple generations of female pavement ants take care of the young. (Cordonnier, et al., 2020)

Behavior

Pavement ants are a colonial species that behave differently depending on their role. Workers collect and retrieve supplies and food. Queen pavement ants are responsible for reproduction. Males do not do much work. Pavement ants live on the ground and leave the nests to gather resources. (Cordonnier, et al., 2020; MacGown and Whitehouse, 2017)

Communication and Perception

Like other ants, pavement ants use pheromones, acoustic, and tactile feedback for communication. They use acoustic, tactile, pheremones, and visual feedback for perception. (MacGown and Whitehouse, 2017)

Food Habits

Pavement ants are omnivorous. They consume dead and live insects, seeds, and plant sap. Indoors, they may feed on various household foods such as grease, nuts and seeds, crackers, cheese, honey, meat, and bread. They seem to prefer meat and grease. (Wagner, et al., 2017)

Pavement ants eat plants, meat, and insects. When outdoors, they eat dead and live insects, seeds, and plant sap. Indoors, they may eat various household foods such as grease, nuts and seeds, crackers, cheese, honey, meat, and bread. They seem to prefer eating meat and grease. (Wagner, et al., 2017)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • sap or other plant fluids

Predation

Many species of the genus Tetramorium, including pavement ants, are cryptic. (MacGown and Whitehouse, 2017)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Another species of the family Myrmicine, dark guest ants are social parasites of pavement ants. They form mixed colonies by invading the nests and using the resources of the pavement ants. The pavement ants often don't even notice the intruders. (Cordonnier, et al., 2020)

Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Pavement ants have no known positive economic importance. (MacGown and Whitehouse, 2017)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Pavement ants may be considered pest species. They tend to nest near gardens, homes, and other human structures. Pavement ants are known to feed on garden plants and enter buildings to gather food. (MacGown and Whitehouse, 2017)

  • Negative Impacts
  • household pest

Conservation Status

Pavement ants are not currently undergoing any conservation efforts.

Other Comments

In older literature, pavement ants may be called Tetramorium caespitum. (MacGown and Whitehouse, 2017)

Contributors

Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

colonial

used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

eusocial

the condition in which individuals in a group display each of the following three traits: cooperative care of young; some individuals in the group give up reproduction and specialize in care of young; overlap of at least two generations of life stages capable of contributing to colony labor

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

introduced

referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

suburban

living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

urban

living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Cordonnier, M., G. Escarguel, A. Dumet, B. Kaufmann. 2020. Multiple mating in the context of interspecific hybridization between two Tetramorium ant species. Heredity, 124: 675–684. Accessed September 15, 2020 at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41437-020-0310-3.

MacGown, J., R. Whitehouse. 2017. "Tetramorium immigrans Santschi, 1927 (=Tetramorium caespitum (Linnaeus, 1758)) "pavement ant"" (On-line). Ants (Formicidae) of the Southeastern United States. Accessed September 15, 2020 at https://mississippientomologicalmuseum.org.msstate.edu/Researchtaxapages/Formicidaepages/genericpages/Tetramorium_immigrans.htm.

Wagner, H., W. Arthofer, B. Seifert, C. Muster, F. Steiner, B. Schlick-Steiner. 2017. Light at the end of the tunnel: Integrative taxonomy delimits cryptic species in the Tetramorium caespitum complex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News, 25: 95-129.

Wagner, H., C. Karaman, V. Aksoy, K. Kiran. 2018. A mixed colony of Tetramorium immigrans Santschi, 1927 and the putative social parasite Tetramorium aspina sp.n. (Hymenoptera: Formicid. Myrmecological News, 28: 25-33. Accessed September 15, 2020 at https://doi.org/10.25849/myrmecol.news_028:025.

Zhang, Y., T. Vitone, C. Storer, A. Payton, R. Dunn, J. Hulcr, S. McDaniel, A. Lucky. 2019. From Pavement to Population Genomics: Characterizing a Long-Established Non-native Ant in North America Through Citizen Science and ddRADseq. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7: 1-10. Accessed September 15, 2020 at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2019.00453/full.