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Anoplolepis longipes (Jerdon)
Ronald F.L. Mau, Extension Entomologist
Jayma L. Martin Kessing, Educational Specialist
Department of Entomology
Ants do not directly feed on host plants, instead they feed on the honeydew secreted by aphids, mealybugs, and scales. Therefore, these ants are often found in association with colonies of these plant pests.
Originally from Africa, the longlegged ant has been widely transported throughout the Tropics by man. This ant was first reported in the State on Oahu in 1952 and has subsequently spread to Hawaii, Maui and Kauai. The ant is abundant on Hawaii in the Hilo and Puna districts and at Hana on the island of Maui. It is usually found from sea level to about 2000 feet.
This ant does not damage plants. Instead, the longlegged ant contributes to the development of honeydew producing insects. They aid in the dispersal of these insects and also indirectly contribute to increased damage by protecting the colonies against natural enemies.
Their nest burrowing activity at the base of trees subject the roots of the plant to invasion by diseases.
Ant colonies live in nests that may be located under ground or in trees. Nest size averages about 4000 individuals. Approximately 80% of the population are workers, 15% are queens and the remaining percentage is composed of eggs and developing larvae and pupae. There is an increase in nest size and foraging activity during drier months.
Food for the colony consists of sugary materials from fruits or plant extracts, honeydew, and proteinaceous material from insect prey and carcasses collected by foragers. Being quite a predaceous ant, the majority of the food is from prey, especially ground level insects such as cockroaches and crickets. Foraging is most active when ground temperatures are between 77û and 86û F and limited by strong winds and heavy rains. Availability of food influences the size of the nest population.
Dispersal of ants may be either through colony budding or by mating flights of alate (winged) individuals, the former being the more common.
It takes from 76 to 84 days for eggs the reach maturity.
Eggs hatch in 18 to 20 days.
Worker larvae develop in 16 to 20 days.
Queen pupae develop in 30 to 34 days, where worker pupae require about 20 days.
Adults are reddish-yellow and with a long slender body measuring approximately 1/6 inch in length. The abdomen is often darker than the head and thorax. This is a monomorphic species; workers are similar in appearance regardless of their duty within the colony.
Workers live for approximately 6 months, and the queens for several years. Queens lay about 700 eggs annually throughout their life span.
Different ant species are known to invade the nests of other species and feed on the brood of the other species. Some species of ant are more aggressive than others. The longlegged ant is not aggressive when it encounters other ant species. Their first motion is to escape since they are fast moving and active. If involved in a battle with another ant species, the longlegged ant will curve its abdomen up toward the head of its attacker and spray a defensive substance from poison glands located in the abdomen. This secretion is highly toxic to other ants as well as other individuals within the colony and is a very effective defense.
In general ants do not have important enemies except other ants, although there is some predation by some mites and flies and certain birds.
Ant baits mixed with insecticides and spraying are effective in managing this pest.
Fluker, S. S. and J. W. Beardsley. 1970. Sympatric Associations of Three Ants: Iridomyrmex humilis, Pheidole megacephala, and Anoplolepis longipes in Hawaii. Entomol. Soc. Amer. Ann. 63(5): 1290-1296.
Greenslade, P. J. M. 1972. Comparative Ecology of Four Tropical Ant Species. Insectes Sociaux, Paris. 19(3): 195-212.
Haines, I. H. and J. B. Haines. 1978a. Colony Structure, Seasonallity and Food Requirements of the Crazy Ant, Anoplolepis longipes (Jerd.), in the Seychelles. Ecological Entomology. 3(2): 109-118.
Haines, I. H. and J. B. Haines. 1978b. Pest status of the Crazy Ant, Anoplolepis longipes (Jerdon) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), in the Seychelles. Bull. Ent. Res. 68(4): 627-638.
Huddleston, E. W. and S. S. Fluker. 1968. Distribution of Ant Species of Hawaii. Proc. Hawaiian Entomol. Soc. 20(1): 45-69.
Lewis, T., J. M. Cherrett, I. Haines, J. B. Haines, and P. L. Mathias. 1976. The Crazy Ant Anoplolepis longipes (Jerd.) (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in Seychelles, and its chemical control. Bull. Ent. Res. 66(1): 97-111.
Veeresh, G. K. and Gubbaiah. 1984. A Report on the "Crazy Ant"
(Anoplolepis longipes Jerdon) Menace in Karnataka. J. Soil Biol. Ecol. 4(1): 65-73.