Acanthostichus kirbyi

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Acanthostichus kirbyi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Acanthostichus
Species: A. kirbyi
Binomial name
Acanthostichus kirbyi
Emery, 1895

Acanthostichus kirbyi casent0006101 profile 1.jpg

Acanthostichus kirbyi casent0006101 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Mackay (1996) - This is one of the most widely distributed, commonly collected species in the genus.This species has been collected with termites. They capture termites and act like Eciton sp. the termites escape in circular files (Willink. per. comm.). Brown (1975) gives a description of the foraging behavior of A. kirbyi. He and Karol Lenko found a column at midday raiding a termite nest on the floor of the forest near Benjamin Constant. The column moved mostly beneath leaf litter and collected a cache of dead termites beneath a piece of bark. A column led from the cache to a crevice in the ground under the roots of a tree, but they could not reach the nest. They saw about 50 workers which they estimated to be only a small part of the column. The workers moved rapidly and reminded them of army ants by the way they walked and moved their antennae.


A member of the serratulus species complex. Mackay (1996) - This species is closely related to Acanthostichus serratulus, but can be distinguished by the well developed lateral teeth on the clypeus (poorly developed in A. serratulus), in addition to other characteristics including a more quadrate head in A. serratulus (sides almost parallel), the petiole of A. serratulus is parallel sided and somewhat concave anteriorly, that of A. kirbyi is wider posteriorly and not noticeably concave, the dorsum of the petiole of A. serratulus is somewhat smoother than that of A. kirbyi (which is lightly punctate and roughened) and the sides of the petiole of A. serratulus have well developed carinae that are lacking in A. kirbyi. It differs from Acanthostichus brevicornis in that the posterior femur is rarely incrassate and that the dorsum of the petiole is roughened and often has longitudinal troughs. It differs from Acanthostichus quadratus and Acanthostichus lattkei in that the node of the petiole is longer than broad (Fig. 24) and the longitudinal troughs are not as deep and the sides are not parallel as they are in these other two species. The clypeus is narrower and the two lateral teeth are usually well developed, but only somewhat developed in A. quadratus and A. lattkei. This species is often misidentified in collections. For example, Kusnezov identified it as A. brevicornis (based on figures in his revision (1962), and specimens #8926 and #9142 in the USNM and IMLA, collected primarily by Kusnezov and with his identification labels). The male is similar to that of A. serratulus, but can be distinguished by the shape of the petiole (see A. serratulus discussion).

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -11.55° to -26.808285°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay (type locality), Peru.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.




Images from AntWeb

Acanthostichus kirbyi casent0102000 head 1.jpgAcanthostichus kirbyi casent0102000 profile 1.jpgAcanthostichus kirbyi casent0102000 dorsal 1.jpgAcanthostichus kirbyi casent0102000 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0102000. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MSNG, Genoa, Italy.
Acanthostichus kirbyi casent0102001 head 1.jpgAcanthostichus kirbyi casent0102001 profile 1.jpgAcanthostichus kirbyi casent0102001 dorsal 1.jpgAcanthostichus kirbyi casent0102001 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0102001. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MSNG, Genoa, Italy.


Images from AntWeb

Acanthostichus kirbyi casent0106071 head 1.jpgAcanthostichus kirbyi casent0106071 profile 1.jpgAcanthostichus kirbyi casent0106071 dorsal 1.jpgAcanthostichus kirbyi casent0106071 label 1.jpg
Male (alate). Specimen code casent0106071. Photographer Michael Branstetter, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by UCDC, Davis, CA, USA.


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • kirbyi. Acanthostichus kirbyi Emery, 1895j: 751, fig. OO.B (w.) PARAGUAY, BRAZIL (Mato Grosso).
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Mackay, 1996: 156), 1 paralectotype worker.
    • Type-locality: lectotype Brazil: Mato Grosso (P. Germain); paralectotype with same data.
    • [Note: other original syntypes, from Paraguay: (no further data) (L. Balzan), could not be found and are assumed to be lost (Mackay, 1996: 156).]
    • Type-depositories: MSNG (lectotype); USNM (paralectotype).
    • Combination in A. (Acanthostichus): Emery, 1911d: 13.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1906c: 111; Emery, 1911d: 13; Bruch, 1914: 212; Gallardo, 1918b: 10 (redescription); Borgmeier, 1923: 51; Wheeler, W.M. 1934g: 163 (in key); Kusnezov, 1962a: 131; Kempf, 1972a: 10; Brown, 1975: 42; Bolton, 1995b: 54; Mackay, 1996: 155 (redescription); Wild, 2007b: 23; Bezděčková, et al. 2015: 109.
    • Distribution: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Mackay (1996) - HL 1.05-1.41, HW 0.83-1.30, SL 0.48-0.68, SW 0.19-0.28. WL 1.26-1.93. PW 0.39-0.55, PL 0.45-0.69. FL 0.70-1.10, FW 0.26-0.39, SI 45-49, CI 79-92, PI 116-128, FI 2.64-2.84, SL/SW 2.41-2.53. Median and lateral clypeal teeth well developed; mandible often with small denticles on masticatory border (especially in larger workers); promesonotal suture poorly marked; petiole longer than wide. subpetiolar process consisting of a large lobe, usually with a posteriorly directed tooth.

Type Material

Mackay (1996) - Worker (Fig. 00B), BRAZIL: Mato Grosso (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa) [seen]. Lectotype worker (here designated), (MCSN) [seen], one probable cotype worker National Museum of Natural History, Mato Grosso, Germain; Typus; Acanthosnchus kirbyi Em. Part of type series from Paraguay not found and apparently lost.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Borowiec M. L. 2016. Generic revision of the ant subfamily Dorylinae (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). ZooKeys 608: 1–280.
  • Brown W. L., Jr. 1975. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. V. Ponerinae, tribes Platythyreini, Cerapachyini, Cylindromyrmecini, Acanthostichini, and Aenictogitini. Search Agric. (Ithaca N. Y.) 5(1): 1-115.
  • Emery C. 1895. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zoologische Jahrbücher. Abteilung für Systematik, Geographie und Biologie der Tiere 8: 685-778.
  • Emery C. 1906. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. XXVI. Bullettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 37: 107-194.
  • Emery C. 1911. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125.
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Gallardo A. 1918. Las hormigas de la República Argentina. Subfamilia Ponerinas. Anales del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Buenos Aires 30: 1-112.
  • Gallardo A. 1919. Una nueva prodorilina Acanthostichus afflictus [male]. Anales del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Buenos Aires 30: 237-242.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Kusnezov N. 1962. El género Acanthostichus Mayr (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Acta Zoologica Lilloana 18: 121-138.
  • MacKay W. P. 1996. A revision of the ant genus Acanthostichus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 27: 129-179
  • Pacheco R., and H. L. Vasconcelos. 2012. Subterranean Pitfall Traps: Is ItWorth Including Them in Your Ant Sampling Protocol? Psyche doi:10.1155/2012/870794
  • Wild, A. L. "A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)." Zootaxa 1622 (2007): 1-55.