Anochetus gladiator

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Anochetus gladiator
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Anochetus
Species: A. gladiator
Binomial name
Anochetus gladiator
(Mayr, 1862)

Anochetus gladiator casent0217505 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels



Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 1.503° to 1.452548°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: Indonesia (type locality), Sulawesi.

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.


Explore-icon.png Explore Overview of Anochetus biology 
Not much is known about the the biology of Anochetus gladiator but we can presume that its biology is similar to other Anochetus species. The following account of Anochetus biology is modified from Brown (1968):

Habitat. The places where Anochetus live are varied. Where they penetrate into the temperate zone, most species excavate nests in the earth. Occasionally the nest is dug under a covering rock. In the tropics, many nests are also dug in the soil, but in moist forested areas, a common site is the soil beneath a rotting log or other large mass of rotting wood, with extensions of the nest into the log itself. Another frequent nesting site in tropical forest is in the humus and leaf litter at the base of large trees, particularly between buttress roots. Anochetus species of medium or small size often nest in small pieces of rotting wood or bark, or even small rotting twigs or seeds and nuts lying in or on the forest litter. Some species tend to choose more arboreal nest sites.

Diet. Foraging for living animal prey takes place on the soil surface, within the soil-humus-log mold matrix, or on the trunks, branches and foliage of trees and plants wherever these are available. Fragmentary evidence indicates that most epigaeically foraging tropical Anochetus tend to do their foraging at dusk, at night, or during dawn hours. I found Anochetus africanus walking on tree trunks only at night in the Ivory Coast. Some species, particularly those with red heads or other aposematic coloration, apparently forage in the open more during the day. No systematic comparative study has yet been made of foraging hours for different species.

The food of Anochetus consists principally of living arthropods caught and killed or incapacitated by the ants. The smaller and more delicate species Anochetus inermis has been observed by me in a laboratory nest. The colony came from a piece of rotten wood from the floor of a wet ravine near Bucay in western Ecuador. The colony was fed with small tenebrionid beetle larvae (Tribolium castaneum), comparable in size to the A. inermis workers, and the latter attacked the prey with their mandibles in the familiar snapping manner, but very cautiously and nervously, with stealthy approach, extremely rapid strike, and instant recoil-retreat. After several attacks of this kind, with intervening periods of waiting, during which the beetle larvae fled, rested, or writhed about in distress, an ant would finally attack with its mandibles and hold them closed on the prey for long enough to deliver a quick sting in the intersegmental membrane. After this, the prey appeared to be paralyzed, or at least subdued, and sooner or later was carried off by the ant to the nest, and eventually placed on an ant larva.

Frequent delays and excursions before the prey are finally immobilized and brought to the ant larvae in the nest may well have the function of allowing time for protective allomones of the prey to dissipate. Many tenebrionid adults, including Tribofium, possess potent quinonoid defensive allomones, but the larva is not known to possess quinones in this genus.

Nuptial flight. Although males of different species of Anochetus are commonly taken at light, other species are not. Stewart and Jarmila Peck gave me Malaise trap samples taken in western Ecuador that contained males of several species, but Malaise traps capture both day- and night-flying insects.

Defense. When a nest of any of the larger Anochetus species is breached, some of the workers immediately hide beneath leaves or other objects, while other workers rush about with open jaws, which they snap at foreign objects, or even at leaves and twigs, with an audible tick. On human skin or clothing, a worker will snap her jaws and hold fast to the surface with them, at the same time quickly bringing her gaster around to sting. The sting is long and strong, and to me the effect is shocking and quickly painful.

Most of the smaller and medium-sized Anochetus species feign death when disturbed, crouching flat against the surface, or rolling themselves into a ball and remaining still, often for a minute or more. Only when held do they sting. Their stings can be felt in most cases, but the effect is usually trifling. ‎



Images from AntWeb

Anochetus gladiator casent0902436 h 1 high.jpgAnochetus gladiator casent0902436 p 1 high.jpgAnochetus gladiator casent0902436 d 1 high.jpgAnochetus gladiator casent0902436 p 2 high.jpgAnochetus gladiator casent0902436 d 2 high.jpgAnochetus gladiator casent0902436 l 1 high.jpg
Syntype of Anochetus gladiatorWorker. Specimen code casent0902436. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMUK, London, UK.


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

  • gladiator. Stenomyrmex gladiator Mayr, 1862: 712 (w.) INDONESIA (Misool I.).
    • Type-material: holotype(?) worker.
    • [Note: no indication of number of specimens is given.]
    • Type-locality: Indonesia: Mysol (= Misool I.).
    • Type-depository: NHMW.
    • [Also described as new by Mayr, 1863: 454 (footnote).]
    • Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1976a: 62 (l.).
    • Replacement name for Odontomachus tyrannicus Smith, F. 1861b: 44. [Junior primary homonym of Odontomachus tyrannicus Smith, F. 1859a: 144.]
    • [Note: gladiator Mayr, 1862: 712, junior synonym of tyrannicus Smith, F. 1861b: 44 (synonymy by Dalla Torre, 1893: 48); hence gladiator Mayr, 1862: 712, is first available replacement name (Brown, 1978c: 574).]
    • Combination in Anochetus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 48.
    • Junior synonym of tyrannicus Smith, F. 1861b: 44: Dalla Torre, 1893: 48; Emery, 1911d: 110; Forel, 1911e: 250.
    • Status as species: Mayr, 1863: 454 (footnote); Roger, 1863b: 22; Mayr, 1867a: 81 (redescription); Brown, 1978c: 556, 574; Bolton, 1995b: 64.
    • Senior synonym of smithii Roger, 1863b: 21 unnecessary (second) replacement name): Brown, 1978c: 556; Bolton, 1995b: 64.
    • Senior synonym of gladiator Smith, F. 1871a: 320 (unnecessary (third) replacement name): not previously recorded.
    • Senior synonym of gladiator Donisthorpe (unnecessary (fourth) replacement name): Brown, 1978c: 556; Bolton, 1995b: 64.
    • Distribution: Indonesia (Misool, Sulawesi).
  • smithii. Odontomachus smithii Roger, 1863b: 21.
    • Unnecessary (second) replacement name for tyrannicus Smith, F. 1861b: 44.
    • Combination in Anochetus: Forel, 1911e: 250.
    • Junior synonym of tyrannicus: Forel, 1911e: 250.
    • Junior synonym of gladiator: Brown, 1978c: 556; Bolton, 1995b: 65.
  • gladiator. Odontomachus gladiator Smith, F. 1871a: 320.
    • Unnecessary (third) replacement name for Odontomachus tyrannicus Smith, F. 1861b: 44. [Junior primary homonym of Odontomachus tyrannicus Smith, F. 1859a: 144.]
    • Junior synonym of gladiator Mayr, 1862: 712: not previously recorded.
  • gladiator. Odontomachus gladiator Donisthorpe, 1932c: 467.
    • Unnecessary (fourth) replacement name for Odontomachus tyrannicus Smith, F. 1861b: 44.
    • Status as species: Donisthorpe, 1943d: 446; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 42.
    • Junior synonym of gladiator Mayr, 1862: 712 (first available replacement name): Brown, 1978c: 556; Bolton, 1995b: 64.

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

Odontomachus tyrannicus

Two syntype workers in The Natural History Museum. Both specimens have been equipped with a blue “syntype” disc. The labels on the two are slightly different, but there is no way of proving if one is not an original syntype.

  • Worker 1, labelled “Celebes”; written under the stage-card is, “Celebes. Taken by Wallace n. sp.”
  • Worker 2, labelled “Celebes, Manado. 60/76.” Acc. Reg. “1860 no. 76 (Sept. 13) Celebes (Manado). Purchased of Stevens. Collected by A. Wallace.”



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Chapman, J. W., and Capco, S. R. 1951. Check list of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Asia. Monogr. Inst. Sci. Technol. Manila 1: 1-327
  • Donisthorpe, Horace. 1943. The Ants of Waigeu Island, North Dutch New Guinea. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History 11 (10): 433-475.
  • Emery C. 1901. Formiciden von Celebes. Zoologische Jahrbücher. Abteilung für Systematik, Geographie und Biologie der Tiere 14:565-580.
  • Emery C. 1911. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125.
  • Forel A. 1911. Die Ameisen des K. Zoologischen Museums in München. Sitzungsber. Math.-Phys. Kl. K. Bayer. Akad. Wiss. Münch. 11: 249-303.
  • Viehmeyer H. 1912. Ameisen aus Deutsch Neuguinea gesammelt von Dr. O. Schlaginhaufen. Nebst einem Verzeichnisse der papuanischen Arten. Abhandlungen und Berichte des Königlichen Zoologischen und Anthropologische-Ethnographischen Museums zu Dresden 14: 1-26.