James C. Trager is a North American ant taxonomist who did his Ph.D. and subsequent 4-year post-doctoral position at the University of Florida from 1980-1988. The work was funded because of concern regarding the infamous Solenopsis invicta, but was also an opportunity to study many other ants. His publications from that time include the taxonomic revisions of North American Nylanderia and Leptogenys, and southeastern USA Dorymyrmex, plus several coauthored papers on local ant faunas and taxonomic questions in Florida. During those years, his facility with Spanish, Portuguese and ant taxonomy led to his accompanying colleagues on several trips to Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil, adding up in total to about 8-months time in South America, to collect material that ultimately led to his 1991 global revision of the Solenopsis geminata species group (fire ants). In 1988 James moved with his family to Missouri, and soon thereafter joined the staff of the Missouri Botanical Garden as field naturalist and habitat restoration and management specialist at the Garden’s 1000-hectare Shaw Nature Reserve, where he spent almost 30 years, until retiring in 2019. While there, he maintained a program of ant study, resulting in publication of the aforementioned fire ant revision, as well as revisions of the Formica pallidefulva group and the Polyergus of the world, among others. James is currently working on assembling an identification guide to the ants of Missouri, which should be widely applicable to adjacent states and especially to all those that lie in the same latitudes, east to the Atlantic Ocean.
In addition to ant related matters, James enjoys being married to his artist wife Jan, hiking with his dog Harvey (rescued from the eponymous hurricane), habitat-gardening with native plants, growing vegetables, cooking, and most recently, hanging out with his new granddaughter, whom he immediately forgave for not waiting a couple more weeks in order to be born on his 68th birthday.