Dear people of AntWeb:
Recently i have discovered that in my garden are a rare type (¿?)of ant. I have a few pictures of them but i will try to describe them:
They're about half a centimeter long, colored entirely black, but i saw that in the gaster they have four red or intense orange dots.
I've been studying ants for the last two to three weeks but they are so many species... I'm just loosing it. Please, all I need is a little orientation on how can I identify their family or ¿what?
I'm writing you from Sucre, Bolivia in South America.
Thanks a lot.
Jaime R. Flores C.
In fact, the ants of Bolivia have not been well studied systematically, but you are absolutely right to say there are so many species. South America has one of the richest ant faunas in the World! Ant Web has pages on Paraguay and Costa Rica - http://www.antweb.org/paraguay.jsp and http://www.antweb.org/cosatarica.jsp - that could be helpful. I would suggest you start first by clicking on the link to the subfamilies, at the right, to get the general idea of ants that look like the ones in your garden, then from that page, click on individual subfamilies ot reach the genera. Take careful note of the scale bar in each image to estimate the size of the ant that is pictured.X
This said, I think your ant might be one of the species of Dolichoderus that is not imaged on those pages. Several species in that genus have the size and coloring you describe.
Have fun exploring Ant Web.
James (also Jaime) C. Trager of the Ask Ant Team.