North American fire ants surround and protect their significantly much larger queen

New Genetic Study Reveals Cryptic Diversity in the Native North American Fire Ants

The native North American fire ants (Solenopsis Westwood) comprise a difficult group taxonomically that has undergone multiple revisions in the past century yet remains in a state of taxonomic uncertainty. The results of our genetic study demonstrated that the recognised North American fire ant species represent evolutionarily independent entities. We also confirm the presumed sister status of the desert fire ants, S. aurea Wheeler and S. amblychila Wheeler. However, we also found tat least two genetically divergent populations within the nominal species boundaries, including a western form of S. xyloni and a distinct population of S. aurea. These results suggest that the current taxonomy does not fully capture the species‐level diversity in this group. Our study provides the molecular foundation for