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Volume 2012, Article ID 183284, 10 pages
Research Article

Comparative Immature Morphology of Brazilian Fire Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Solenopsis)

1Laboratório de Entomologia Médica, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), 21.945-970 Ilha do Fundão, RN, Brazil
2Centro de Estudos de Insetos Sociais, Instituto de Biociências, Sao Paulo State University (UNESP), 13506-900 Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
3Laboratório de Histopatologia e Biologia Estrutural de Plantas, Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura, University of São Paulo (USP), 13400-970 Piracicaba, SP, Brazil
4Laboratório de Mirmecologia, Centro de Pesquisa do Cacau, 45650-000 Itabuna, BA, Brazil

Received 18 March 2011; Accepted 29 April 2011

Academic Editor: Fernando Fernández

Copyright © 2012 Eduardo Gonçalves Paterson Fox et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although common in Brazil, the biology of the fire ant Solenopsis saevissima (Smith) is still poorly studied. Larval descriptions are useful to genus-level ant systematics and sometimes to species-level taxonomy. This study presents a detailed description of juveniles of S. saevissima from Brazil, which were compared with Brazilian specimens of Solenopsis invicta Buren, Solenopsis geminata (Fabricius), and Solenopsis altipunctata Pitts. Different larval instars were separated by diagnostic morphological traits which were confirmed by observing moults. Reproductive larvae could be easily sorted by their distinctive body dimensions and shape. Contrary to previous reports on this species, the larvae of S. saevissima proved to be generally identical to those of S. invicta, while a few specimens resembled those of other close species, such as Solenopsis megergates Trager. Mature larvae thus presented considerable intraspecific variation in some characters recently proposed to aid fire ant species separation (morphology of head hairs).