Myrmica hirsuta Elmes, 1978

Description and notes

Myrmica hirsuta is a very rare social parasite of Myrmica sabuleti Meinert and M. lonae Finzi. Queens and males are very similar to M. sabuleti but smaller, more robust and hairier. Myrmica hirsuta queens can be separated from microgynes of their host by an enlarged post-petiole, wider frons and longer body hairs. Small numbers of M. hirsuta workers are sometimes present in nests. Parasitised nests produce alates of both parasite and host.

Distribution

Southern England with a single record for West Wales.

Has been recorded in Central and Northern Europe including Finland to 60┬░ North.

Status (in Britain only)

Shirt (1987) listed this species as Rare (RDB3), a status revised to Insufficiently Known (RDBK) by Falk (1991).

Habitat

Warm grassland sites where its hosts' nests are found.

Flight period

Alates can be found in nests from mid July and they fly from mid August to early September.

Foraging behaviour

Relies on host workers for food.

Nesting biology

M. hirsuta is an obligatory social parasite and after the nuptial flight mated queens are able to spend the winter under stones and find a host colony the following Spring.

Author of profile

M G Fox

Year profile last updated

2019