Subject: Sawfly or ant drone?
Location: Brazos County, Texas, USA
March 27, 2016 4:37 pm
Hello! I had asked Texas A&M as well but I’ll ask here as well. We did a catch-and-release of what looked like a sawfly last night (well, failed release because the door was still open and it flew back into the light, so we’re still checking the house for a body).
My stepfather is still moving his own photos and videos off his cameras, but the jaws seem to match a sawfly, the eyes seemed proportionately large, and the thorax was prominently hunched. I compared to other photos I saw of sawflies, but the abdomen was longer. It was maybe an inch and a half long.
A&M agreed that it looked like a sawfly, so we narrowed down our own image searches for an exact match; but when we did happen to find an exact match, the page did not say “sawfly,” it said “red driver ant.” We looked that insect up, and it did indeed match the dorylus drone perfectly… except, that’s an African army ant… so now I’m really hoping we didn’t just catch and release evidence of an invasive species.
Any input you have will be greatly appreciated, and if you respond, I’ll try to send you the macros from my stepfather as soon as possible.
Signature: M. Sidney Beal
Dear M. Sidney Beal,
Please forgive us the long delay. Our tiny staff cannot answer all the mail we receive and we are currently going through older identification requests for interesting postings, and your posting has us quite excited. We are also struck by the resemblance to the Middle Eastern Sausage Fly, a male Driver Ant in the genus Dorylus. Searching that lead, we believe this is a male Legionary Ant in the genus Neivamyrmex, based on this and other images posted to BugGuide. According to BugGuide, Legionary Ants and other Army Ants in the Tribe Ecitonini have “huge, wingless queens and wasplike males unlike those of any other ants.” We would not discount that it is another member of the family, but the Legionary Ants seem to be the most common.
This is actually great timing! My suspicions were right that it died inside the house, and my stepfather just today found the body. Minus one antenna, it seems to be otherwise intact, and we now have it in a jar for safekeeping. When we have new photos taken, I’ll forward any my family sends me.
After I last responded to A&M, their ant expert also seemed to agree that it’s most likey a neivamyrmex. Thank you for responding.