Aenictus laeviceps

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Aenictus laeviceps
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Aenictus
Species: A. laeviceps
Binomial name
Aenictus laeviceps
(Smith, F., 1857)

Aenictus laeviceps casent0217377 p 1 high.jpg

Aenictus laeviceps casent0217377 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


Widespread and dominant in rainforests of Southeast Asia (Gotwald 1995).


A member of the laeviceps species group. A. laeviceps is closely related to Aenictus breviceps, Aenictus sonchaengi, and Aenictus rotundicollis in having only 2 standing hairs on the vertex of the head. It has a more weakly convex promesonotum in profile than the last two (promesonotum strongly convex in A. sonchaengi and A. rotundicollis). It is also separated from them by the absence of standing hairs on the pronotum (more than 4 hairs present in A. sonchaengi; 2–4 hairs in A. rotundicollis). Another character separating A. laeviceps from A. rotundicollis is the relative length of the petiole, which is longer than high in the former but shorter than high in the latter. For the differences between A. laeviceps and A. breviceps, see A. breviceps. (Jaitrong and Yamane 2011)

Keys including this Species


E. Thailand, Malay Peninsula (S. Thailand and W. Malaysia), Sumatra, Borneo (Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei), and Philippines (Jaitrong and Yamane 2011).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 22.88333333° to 1.549999952°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: Borneo (type locality), Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.
Oriental Region: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam.
Palaearctic Region: China.

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.


Jaitrong and Yamane (2011) - A. laeviceps is widespread and dominant in rainforests of Southeast Asia (Gotwald 1995). We found it foraging in lowland seasonal forests (dry evergreen forest) in eastern Thailand. Elsewhere it was collected from tropical rainforests generally at less than 1,000 m alt. A single colony may contain as many as 60,000 to 110,000 workers (Schneirla & Reyes 1966).

Queen Aenictus laeviceps and workers.

This species forages mainly on the ground (Hirosawa et al. 2000) but sometimes climbs up trees. We observed this species preying on other ants such as Anoplolepis gracilipes (Philippines), Camponotus (Sumatra, Thailand), Euprenolepis (Thailand), Polyrhachis (Borneo), Pseudolasius (Borneo), and also on grasshoppers (Thailand). Wilson (1964) mentioned that A. laeviceps preyed on other ant species such as Camponotus (Tanaemyrmex) carin, Diacamma sp., Echinopla sp., Hypoclinea sp. [Dolichoderus sp.], Myrmicaria sp., Pristomyrmex sp., Paratrechina longicornis, Polyrhachis (Polyrhachis) bellicosa, Polyrhachis (Myrmhopla) sp., and Polyrhachis (Myrma) sp., Ponera sp., Vollenhovia sp., and also on the social wasp, Ropalidia flavopicta. Chapman (1964) found this species feeding on myriapods, termites, small staphylinid beetles, while Rościszewski and Maschwitz (1994) mentioned that ants of the genera Crematogaster, Paratrechina, Pheidole, Polyrhachis, and Prenolepis were the prey of A. laeviceps. Hirosawa et al. (2000) reported that dominant prey genera were Camponotus (48.2%), Pseudolasius (20.8%) and Polyrhachis (15.2%) in the vicinity of Poring, Sabah, Borneo at altitudes of 600–800 m.

Wheeler (1930) - Described from a single specimen taken by Dr. Chapman on May 23, 1923, from a colony that had been making raids for two days on other ants and miscellaneous insects near his camp in the mountains back of Dumaguete. This colony finally bivouacked under an overhanging rock and when a fire was built very near it and it again began to migrate, the female, many workers, much brood and a number of amictophiles were captured. The contracted and strongly overlapping segments of the gaster of the female indicate that she was not in an actively egglaying condition, and the many hundreds of workers and fullgrown larvae in the colony indicate that she must be either an old and exhausted mother or a young substitute queen that had not yet entered on her period of great fecundity. Her fresh and unabraded appearance would seem to argue in favor of the latter supposition.

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is a associate (details unknown) for the phorid fly Rhynchomicropteron nudiventer (a associate (details unknown)) (Quevillon, 2018).

Life History Traits

  • Queen number: monogynous (Schneirla and Reyes, 1966; Mizuno et al., 2021)
  • Queen type: dichthadiiform (Schneirla and Reyes, 1966; Mizuno et al., 2021)
  • Mean colony size: 60,000-110,000 (Schneirla, 1965; Schneirla and Reyes, 1966; Beckers et al., 1989; Mizuno et al., 2021)
  • Foraging behaviour: group hunter (Schneirla, 1965; Beckers et al., 1989)


. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Images from AntWeb

Aenictus laeviceps casent0902684 h 1 high.jpgAenictus laeviceps casent0902684 p 1 high.jpgAenictus laeviceps casent0902684 d 1 high.jpgAenictus laeviceps casent0902684 l 1 high.jpg
Lectotype of Aenictus laevicepsWorker. Specimen code casent0902684. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMUK, London, UK.
Aenictus laeviceps casent0907011 h 1 high.jpgAenictus laeviceps casent0907011 p 1 high.jpgAenictus laeviceps casent0907011 d 1 high.jpgAenictus laeviceps casent0907011 l 1 high.jpg
Lectotype of Aenictus laeviceps smythiesiiWorker. Specimen code casent0907011. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MHNG, Geneva, Switzerland.


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

  • laeviceps. Typhlatta laeviceps Smith, F. 1857a: 79 (w.) BORNEO (East Malaysia: Sarawak).
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Jaitrong & Yamane, 2011: 37), 2 paralectotype workers.
    • Type-locality: lectotype Malaysia: Borneo, Sarawak, “SAR. 40” (A.R. Wallace); paralectotypes with same data.
    • Type-depositories: BMNH (lectotype); BMNH, OXUM (paralectotypes).
    • [Misspelled as leviceps by Roger, 1863b: 36, Dalla Torre, 1893: 8, Emery, 1910b: 30, and others.]
    • Wheeler, W.M. 1930g: 200 (q.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1984: 265 (l.).
    • Combination in Aenictus: Forel, 1890b: ciii,
    • combination in A. (Typhlatta): Wheeler, W.M. 1930g: 199.
    • Status as species: Smith, F. 1862a: 49; Roger, 1863b: 36; Mayr, 1863: 457; Smith, F. 1871a: 333; Mayr, 1872: 151; Mayr, 1879: 668 (in key); Emery, 1887b: 449; Emery, 1889b: 487; Dalla Torre, 1893: 8; Emery, 1895k: 452; Forel, 1901a: 475; Emery, 1901g: 566; Bingham, 1903: 18; Emery, 1910b: 30; Forel, 1911d: 382; Wheeler, W.M. 1919e: 61; Wheeler, W.M. & Chapman, 1925: 47; Wheeler, W.M. 1930g: 199 (in key); Donisthorpe, 1932c: 451; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 13; Chapman, 1963: 263; Wilson, 1964a: 467; Baltazar, 1966: 231; Terayama & Yamane, 1989: 599; Radchenko, 1993a: 76; Xu, 1994a: 119; Bolton, 1995b: 60; Wu, J. & Wang, 1995: 51; Zhou & Chen, 1999: 63 (in key); Mathew & Tiwari, 2000: 266; Zhou, 2001b: 60; Zhang, W. & Zheng, 2002: 218; Jaitrong & Nabhitabhata, 2005: 12; Wang, W. 2006: 637 (in key); Jaitrong & Yamane, 2011: 36 (redescription); Pfeiffer, et al. 2011: 32; Bharti, Wachkoo & Kumar, 2012: 293 (in key); Guénard & Dunn, 2012: 23; Bharti, Guénard, et al. 2016: 21.
    • Senior synonym of smythiesii: Wilson, 1964a: 467; Terayama & Yamane, 1989: 599; Bolton, 1995b: 60; Zhou, 2001b: 60.
    • Senior synonym of sundaica: Wilson, 1964a: 467; Terayama & Yamane, 1989: 599; Bolton, 1995b: 60; Zhou, 2001b: 60; Jaitrong & Yamane, 2011: 36.
    • Distribution: Brunei, China, India, Indonesia (Java, Sumatra), Malaysia (Peninsula, Sabah, Sarawak), Philippines (Negros), Thailand.
  • smythiesii. Aenictus laeviceps var. smythiesii Forel, 1901a: 465 (diagnosis in key) (w.) INDIA (Assam), WEST MALAYSIA.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-localities: India: Assam (Smythies), and Malaysia: Perak, Mt Tapah (R. Martin).
    • Type-depository: MHNG.
    • Combination in A. (Typhlatta): Wheeler, W.M. 1930g: 199.
    • Subspecies of laeviceps: Emery, 1910b: 30; Viehmeyer, 1916a: 110; Wheeler, W.M. 1930g: 199 (in key); Menozzi, 1932d: 1; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 13.
    • Junior synonym of laeviceps: Wilson, 1964a: 467; Terayama & Yamane, 1989: 599; Bolton, 1995b: 60; Zhou, 2001b: 60.
  • sundaica. Eciton (Aenictus) fergusoni var. sundaica Karavaiev, 1927e: 7 (w.) INDONESIA (Java: Panaitan (= Prinsen) I.).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated, “several”).
    • Type-locality: Indonesia: Sunda Strait, Prinsen I. (= Panaitan I.), 5.i.1913, Nr. 2398 (V. Karavaiev).
    • Type-depository: SIZK.
    • [Unresolved junior secondary homonym of sundaicus Forel, 1909d: 223 (Bolton, 1995b: 60).]
    • Junior synonym of laeviceps: Wilson, 1964a: 467; Terayama & Yamane, 1989: 599; Bolton, 1995b: 60; Zhou, 2001b: 60; Jaitrong & Yamane, 2011: 36.

Type Material

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Typhlatta laeviceps

Two worker syntypes in Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Labelled “SAR. 38.”

Jaitrong and Yamane (2011) - Typhlatta laeviceps: Three syntype workers from Borneo, Sarawak (The Natural History Museum and Oxford University Museum of Natural History, examined). A syntype in BMNH is selected as the lectotype, others as paralectotypes.

Eciton (Aenictus) fergusoni var. sundaica. Type locality: Prinsen I. [Panaitan I.], Sunda Strait, nr Java.

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

Jaitrong and Yamane (2011) - The specimens collected from southern Thailand, Sumatra, and Borneo (Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei) agree well with the lectotype from Sarawak, except in 2 colonies (SU07-SKY-199 and SU08-Kei282) from Sumatra in which the workers have 1–2 standing hairs on the pronotum. In the single colony (PH98-SKY-26) from the Philippines the propodeal junction of the worker is rounder than in the lectotype, and also the body size is slightly smaller. Zhou (2001) cited Guangxi, southern China as a locality of A. laeviceps, but according to the distribution range of this species the identification is doubtful.



a) worker in profile; b) head of same, dorsal view; c) mandible; d) pedicel of same, in profile; e) female, dorsal view, drawn to the same scale as the worker (a); f) female in profile; g) head of same, dorsal view; h) tip of abdomen of same, ventral view, showing hypopygium.

Jaitrong and Yamane (2011) - Measurements. A worker lectotype: TL 4.15 mm; HL 0.93 mm; HW 0.80 mm; SL 0.83 mm; ML 1.35 mm; PL 0.33 mm; CI 86; SI 103. Non-type workers (n = 9): TL 3.90–4.15 mm; HL 0.88–0.92 mm; HW 0.70–0.82 mm; SL 0.73–0.87 mm; ML 1.30–1.40 mm; PL 0.28–0.33 mm; CI 86–92; SI 103–113.

Lectotype and non-type material from Borneo - Head in full-face view clearly longer than broad, with sides and posterior margin strongly convex; occipital margin bearing a carina. Antenna relatively long, scape almost reaching the posterolateral corner of head; antennal segments II–X each longer than broad. Frontal carina short, slightly extending beyond the level of the posterior margin of torulus. Anterior margin of clypeus convex, bearing 6–8 denticles. Masticatory margin of mandible with a large apical tooth followed by a medium-sized subapical tooth, 4–5 denticles, and a medium-sized basal tooth; basal margin lacking denticles. Promesonotum in profile convex dorsally; propodeum much lower than promesonotum, and in profile its dorsal outline almost straight; propodeal junction right-angled; declivity of propodeum weakly concave, encircled with an indistinct rim. Mesopleuron demarcated from metapleuron by a shallow groove. Petiole longer than high, in profile its dorsal outline almost straight or weakly convex in posterior portion; subpetiolar process well developed, its lobe surmounted by a thin, acute flange that is directed downward and backward; postpetiole slightly shorter than petiole, in dorsal view scarcely longer than broad.

Head entirely smooth and shiny. Antennal scape microrecticulate and subopaque, slightly shiny. Mandible finely microsculptured and feebly shiny. Pronotum smooth and shiny, its anteriormost portion punctate; mesothorax, metapleuron and propodeum with dense punctures; upper portion of mesopleuron and metapleuron with 15-20 irregular longitudinal rugulae; propodeum with about 40 densely packed, nearly straight, fine rugulae; interrugal spaces irregulary microrecticulate and opaque to feebly shiny. Petiole with dense punctures; postpetiole entirely smooth and shiny. Femora extensively but superficially reticulate and shiny; tibiae very finely reticulate.

Head with a pair of standing hairs on vertex; mesosoma devoid of pilosity. Entire body dark reddish brown. Typhlatta spot located anterior to occipital corner.


  • 2n = 22 (Malaysia) (Imai et al., 1983).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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