Anoplolepis gracilipes

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Anoplolepis gracilipes
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Plagiolepidini
Genus: Anoplolepis
Species: A. gracilipes
Binomial name
Anoplolepis gracilipes
(Smith, F., 1857)

Anoplolepis gracilipes casent0125111 profile 1.jpg

Anoplolepis gracilipes casent0125111 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


The Yellow Crazy Ant has the dubious distinction of being among the 100 worst invasive species in the world (IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group). Anoplolepis gracilipes has become widespread across the tropics.

At a Glance • Supercolonies  



Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: United Arab Emirates.
Australasian Region: Australia, New Caledonia.
Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Indonesia, Krakatau Islands, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), New Guinea, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore (type locality), Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna Islands.
Malagasy Region: Mauritius, Réunion, Seychelles.
Neotropical Region: Chile, Mexico.
Oriental Region: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India (type locality), Laos, Nicobar Island, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam.
Palaearctic Region: China, Greece, Japan.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Bertelsmeier et al. (2015) examined elements of interspecific aggression between this species and several other highly invasive ants. In laboratory assays Anoplolepis gracilipes was adept at avoiding aggressive interactions. When confronted by workers of other invasive ant species A. gracilipes either acted indifferently or moved away.

Milar et al. (2017) found in an experimental test, simulating being threatened with entrapment in sand (as might happen if falling in an ant lion pit or if subjected to a collapse of a ground nest), that this species did not exhibit rescue behaviour. This was in agreement with their hypothesis that species that do not face entrapment situations would not show such a response. Anoplolepis gracilipes natural occur in open areas with less friable soils.

Associations with other Organisms

Other Insects

This ant has been observed tending larvae of Lampides boeticus (Obregon et al. 2015).




The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • longipes. Formica longipes Jerdon, 1851: 122 (w.) INDIA. Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1953c: 132 (l.); Imai, Brown, et al. 1984: 68 (k.). Combination in Plagiolepis: Emery, 1887a: 247; in Plagiolepis (Anoplolepis): Santschi, 1914b: 123; in Anoplolepis: Emery, 1925b: 17. [Junior primary homonym of Formica longipes Latreille, 1802c: 233 (now in Pheidole).] Replacement name: Formica gracilipes Smith, F. 1857a: 55. [Note: this name is the oldest available junior synonym of longipes Jerdon (synonymy by Emery, 1887a: 247; confirmed by examination of syntypic workers), and hence is first available replacement name: Bolton, 1995b: 67.] See also: Baker, 1976: 253; Haines & Haines, 1978: 109; Rao & Veeresh, 1991: 261.
  • gracilipes. Formica gracilipes Smith, F. 1857a: 55 (w.) SINGAPORE. Mayr, 1867a: 73 (q.). Combination in Prenolepis: Mayr, 1862: 698; in Plagiolepis: Mayr, 1867a: 73; in Anoplolepis: Bolton, 1995b: 67. Senior synonym of trifasciata: Mayr, 1867a: 73. Junior synonym of longipes Jerdon: Emery, 1887a: 247; hence first available replacement name for Formica longipes Jerdon, 1851: 122, designated by Bolton, 1995b: 67. [Junior primary homonym of Formice longipes Latreille, 1802c: 233 (now in Pheidole).]
  • trifasciata. Formica trifasciata Smith, F. 1858b: 27 (q.) INDONESIA (Java). Junior synonym of gracilipes: Mayr, 1867a: 73.

Type Material

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

Formica gracilipes

Two worker syntypes in Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Labelled “Sing. 30.” Also specimens det. as gracilipes from “Aru” and “N” (= New Guinea).



  • n = 17, 2n = 34 (India; Indonesia; Malaysia; Sarawak) (Goni et al., 1982; Tjan et al., 1986; Imai et al., 1983; Imai et al., 1984; Imai et al., 1985) (as Anoplolepis longipes).


  • Baker, G.L. 1976. The seasonal life cycle of Anoplolepis longipes (Jerdon) in a cacao plantation and under brushed rain forest in the northern district of Papua New Guinea. Insectes Sociaux 23: 253-261. [(30).ix.1976.] PDF
  • Bertelsmeier, C., A. Avril, O. Blight, A. Confais, L. Diez, H. Jourdan, J. Orivel, N. St Germes, and F. Courchamp. 2015. Different behavioural strategies among seven highly invasive ant species. Biological Invasions. 17:2491-2503. doi:10.1007/s10530-015-0892-5
  • Emery, C. 1887b [1886]. Catalogo delle formiche esistenti nelle collezioni del Museo Civico di Genova. Parte terza. Formiche della regione Indo-Malese e dell'Australia. [part]. Ann. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. 24[=(2)(4): 241-256 (page 247, junior synonym of longipes Jerdon, hence first available replacement name for Formica longipes Jerdon)
  • Gruber, M.A.M., Hoffmann, B.D., Ritchie, P.A. & Lester, P.J. 2012. Recent behavioural and population genetic divergence of an invasive ant in a novel environment. Diversity and Distributions, 18, 323–333.
  • Jerdon, T. C. 1851. A catalogue of the species of ants found in Southern India. Madras J. Lit. Sci. 17: 103-127 (page 122, Formica longipes, junior primary homonym)
  • Kirschenbaum, R. & Grace, J.K. 2008. Agonistic Responses of the Tramp Ants Anoplolepis gracilipes, Pheidole megacephala, Linepithema humile, and Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 51, 673-683.
  • Latreille, P. A. 1802b. Histoire naturelle générale et particulière des Crustacés et des insectes. Tome 3. Familles naturelles des genres. Paris: F. Dufart, xii + 467 pp. (page 233, Formica longipes (now in Pheidole))
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 698, combination in Prenolepis)
  • Mayr, G. 1867a. Adnotationes in monographiam formicidarum Indo-Neerlandicarum. Tijdschr. Entomol. 10: 33-117 (page 73, queen described, combination in Plagiolepis, and senior synonym of trifasciata)
  • Mezger, D. & Pfeiffer, M. 2011. Influence of the arrival of Anoplolepis gracilipes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on the composition of an ant community in a clearing in Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia. Asian Myrmecology, 4, 89-98.
  • Miler, K., B. E. Yahya, and M. Czarnoleski. 2017. Pro-social behaviour of ants depends on their ecological niche-Rescue actions in species from tropical and temperate regions. Behavioural Processes. 144:1-4. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2017.08.010
  • Obregon, R., M. R. Shaw, J. Fernandez-Haeger, and D. Jordano. 2015. Parasitoid and ant interactions of some Iberian butterflies (Insecta: Lepidoptera). Shilap-Revista De Lepidopterologia. 43:439-454.
  • Smith, F. 1857a. Catalogue of the hymenopterous insects collected at Sarawak, Borneo; Mount Ophir, Malacca; and at Singapore, by A. R. Wallace. [part]. J. Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. Zool. 2: 42-88 (page 55, worker described)
  • Stewart, P.L.C.F., Brown, L.R., Richards, G. & Bernard, A. 2012. An alternative baiting method of Yellow Crazy Ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes) on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean (downloaded June, 2012 from
  • Wetterer, J. K. 2005. Worldwide distribution and potential spread of the long-legged ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 45:77-97.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922k. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. IX. A synonymic list of the ants of the Malagasy region. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 4 45: 1005-1055 (see also)