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Acta zoológica mexicana

versão On-line ISSN 2448-8445versão impressa ISSN 0065-1737


LARA-JUAREZ, Priscila; AGUIRRE RIVERA, Juan Rogelio; CASTILLO LARA, Pedro  e  REYES AGUERO, Juan Antonio. Biology and exploitation of the escamoles ant, Liometopum apiculatum Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Acta Zool. Mex [online]. 2015, vol.31, n.2, pp.251-264. ISSN 2448-8445.

There are five species of ants considered as food in Mexico, Liometopum apiculatum stands out because the pupae from its reproductive castes, called escamoles are gathered since pre-Hispanic times in central Mexico, but its growing commercial demand has led to be gathered in other areas of the country, where there is a lack of traditional knowledge to do it properly. The knowledge on this species is still insufficient and scattered. The aim of this study was to integrate the available information on L. apiculatum, to be completed and to support its rational use. In L. apiculatum there are castes, formed by worker and reproductive (males and queens); its ontogeny has four larval stages and one pupal stage. This species is distributed from southern USA to central Mexico, in forests of oak, pinyon pine and desert scrub; mainly at altitudes of 1872-2370 m, on leptosols. Their nests are underground, containing about 100,000 ants, there are about 0.01.19 ha-1 nests in disturbed rangelands and 6.0-11.9 ha-1 nests in more favorable sites and better rangeland condition. It is unknown whether the condition of the site influences the amount of ants in each nest and on the duration of the nest. The area required to maintain a well-developed nest varies from 1600 to 2500 m2 in the San Luis Potosí highlands plateau. Inside the nest, there is a spongiform and fragile trabecula, where their larvae and pupae are placed for breeding. The foundation of the nest begins with the nuptial flight in the dry and hot season after a casual storm; after fertilized, the queen initiates the nest building and egg laying. Worker ants are omnivorous: hunters, scavengers, granivorous, pollinivorous, nectarivorous and brooders Hemiptera, from which the ants obtain food by trophobiosis. Their natural enemies are beetles, crickets and mites. The high commercial demand for escamoles threat their populations. There is no official regulations for escamoles picking. The incompetence, abuse and irresponsibility of escamoles gatherer can clearly result in fatal consequences for this ant and its repopulation.

Palavras-chave : Liometopum apiculatum; trophobiosis; anthill; velvety tree ants.

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