Monomorium antipodum Forel 1901
tiny brown ant (Ferro et al. 1977)
Synonyms (Hymenoptera Name Server 2005 )
Monomorium donisthorpei Crawley, Monomorium fraterculum Santschi, Monomorium (Mitara) donisthorpei Crawley, Monomorium (Mitara) laeve st. fraterculus Santschi
All New Zealand specimens previoulsy identified under the names Moromorium antipodum Forel 1901 and M. orientale Mayr 1879 have now been identified as M antipodum Forel 1901 (Gunawardana 2005).
Monomorium is a large genus with well over 300 species. Bolton (1987) observes that the main centres of speciation include Africa and Australia. Heterick (2001) recognises 59 endemic species in Australia including M. antipodum.
M antipodum shows an arc of distribution, beginning in the far north and extending through the east of the North Island to Wellington and Nelson provinces; a clear southern limit is indicated. There is an isolated record from New Plymouth in Taranaki.
In the genus Monomorium, antennae of the workers are 10 to 12-segmented (most often 12), usually with a conspicuous, 3-segmented club. Mandibles with 3-5 teeth. The front margin of the clypeus has a single central elongate hair. Metanotal groove present, either deeply or feebly impressed. Petiole and, generally, the postpetiole have distinct rounded nodes.
Diagnostic features of the worker
Length about 1.6 mm; antennae 11-segmented with a 3-segmented club; mandibles 4-toothed; metanotal groove deeply impressed; colour of body reddish-brown, antennae yellow, tibiae and femora brown.
Poorly known. This species is small and non-aggressive. Similar sized species in Australia are generalist scavengers. It has been observed feeding on dead insects and dried Argentine ant baits long after other ants have stopped foraging, supporting its likely scavenger status. It is often sampled in coastal vegetation or in forest margins, but there are very few collection records from forest, unlike many of our other native ants. Also, unlike other native ants, this species frequently enters buildings. This may indicate that the species is a disturbance specialist.
It is attracted to protein and sugar baits, and caught in pitfall traps.
It is commonly encountered in buildings in some parts of the country and will turn up in bathrooms and kitchens. Trails can be seen to dead insects on window sills and occasionally it will infest sugar bowls and other food. It is a species about which householders commonly ask for advice on control.