Species name: Brachymyrmex depilis
A.K.A.: No common name yet
Size: 0.04-0.08 inches
Where it lives: Beneath the soil’s surface.
What it eats: Brachymyrmex snack on underground bugs like root aphids and sometimes scavenge for sweet treats above ground.
What’s the big deal?
We don’t know a whole lot about tiny Brachymyrmex depilis. Even as one of our most-common ants, they have no common name. But here are four facts we know for sure. Consider this your field guide.
1. They’re tiny (less than a 20th of an inch long).
2. They have thin skin, which means they dry out fast. Fast-drying ants prefer to stay underground, where the weather’s always moist. That means they like to nest under dirt, stones and along plant roots.
3. They prefer sugary foods, like root aphid’s honeydew, and often gulp down so much of the sweet stuff that their rumps can nearly double in size as they waddle back to their hidden nests.
4. Because these ants live underground, they can survive above-ground disasters like fire more readily than can other ant species. When blazes tear across the land, these ladies sit pretty beneath the heat and help rebuild the landscape after the burn fizzles.
There are surely books to be written about Brachymyrmex depilis, but not yet.
Underwood, E. C. & Christian, C. E. 2009. Consequences of Prescribed Fire and Grazing on Grassland Ant Communities. Environmental Entomology, 38, 325-332.