Ghost-ant: Post-embryonic development of the worker caste of Tapinoma melanocephalum (hymenoptera: Formicidae)
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This study examines some aspects of the basic biology of the worldwide distributed ant Tapinoma melanocepbalum Fabricius. The number of larval instars and the growth ratio between each instar are given. We used colonies containing only queens and workers, and later removed these queens in order to estimate the production of eggs and the duration of immature development of the worker caste. Measurements of larvae cephalic capsule widths revealed that workers of the ghost-ant have four larval instars from egg-hatching to adult. The mean growth rate for the species is 1.38, in accordance with Dyar's rule. The highest egg production was 5.3±2.2 eggs/day/queen and the analysis of these brood suggested the presence of two kinds of eggs inside the colony. The development of workers from egg to adult lasted 16-52 days with the embryonic development longer than larval, prepupal or pupal stages. Despite the slow egg-laying by queens, our findings also showed that colonies of T. melanocephalum grow faster than colonies of other tramp ants.