Dorylus

Dorylus

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Dorylus

Dorylus, also known as driver ants, safari ants, or siafu, is a large genus of army ants found primarily in central and east Africa, although the range also extends to southern Africa and tropical Asia. The term siafu is a loanword from Swahili, and is one of numerous similar words from regional Bantu languages used by indigenous peoples to describe various species of these ants.

Unlike the New World members of the former subfamily Ecitoninae (now Dorylinae), members of this genus do form temporary anthills lasting from a few days up to three months. Each colony can contain over 20 million individuals. As with their New World counterparts, there is a soldier class among the workers, which is larger, with a very large head and pincer-like mandibles. They are capable of stinging, but very rarely do so, relying instead on their powerful shearing jaws.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Formicidae
  • Subfamily: Dorylinae
  • Tribe: Dorylini

Biology

Borowiec – Because some species of this lineage are so conspicuous and are the most important arthropod predators of the Afrotropics, this group has attracted considerable attention.

The best studied species include the Afrotropical species that forage above ground, but one subterranean species, Dorylus laevigatus has been the subject of some work. Good overviews of Dorylus biology can be found in Raignier and Boven.

The life cycle of Dorylus colony is similar to that of Eciton and many other army ants but there are no pronounced nomadic and statary phases. The brood production is not synchronized, and the colonies move from old to new nesting sites at irregular intervals.

A mature colony will produce about a dozen virgin queens and eventually undergo fission. About half of the worker force will depart with the old, fertilized queen, while the other half will remain with the virgin queens. Ultimately, all except one of the new queens are cannibalized. The new colony does not produce sexual brood until the workers mothered by the old queen have died.

Habitat

Dorylus, also known as driver ants, safari ants, or siafu, is a large genus of army ants found primarily in central and east Africa, although the range also extends to southern Africa and tropical Asia.

Background

Army ants are the prime arthropod predators in tropical forests, with huge colonies and an evolutionary derived nomadic life style. Five of the six recognized subgenera of Old World Dorylus army ants forage in the soil, whereas some species of the sixth subgenus forage in the leaf-litter and some as conspicuous swarm raiders on the forest floor and in the lower vegetation. Here we use a combination of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences to reconstruct the phylogeny of the Dorylus s.l. army ants and to infer the evolutionary transitions in foraging niche and associated morphological adaptations.

Dorylus images

Dorylus

Dorylus

Dorylus

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