Stealthy invaders: the biology of Cardiocondyla tramp ants
Many invasive ant species, such as the Argentine ant or the red imported fire ant, have huge colonies with thousands of mass-foraging workers, which quickly monopolise resources and therefore represent a considerable threat to the native ant fauna. Cardiocondyla obscurior and several other species of this myrmicine genus have similarly been transferred throughout the tropics by human activities. However, because their colonies are tiny and workers forage solitarily, Cardiocondyla are often not recognized as successful invaders. Here, we document that the life history of Cardiocondyla closely resembles that of the more conspicuous tramp species, with polygyny, intranidal mating, budding, worker sterility, low genetic variability, and possibly also unicoloniality. Given that introduced Cardiocondyla may locally reach a very high population density, the effects of these stealthy invaders on the native arthropod fauna should receive more attention.