Aphaenogaster longiceps

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Aphaenogaster longiceps
Aphaenogaster longiceps
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Aphaenogaster
Species: A. longiceps
Binomial name
Aphaenogaster longiceps
(Smith, F., 1858)

Aphaenogaster longiceps side view

Aphaenogaster longiceps top view

Specimen labels


This is one of the most commonly encountered species of Aphaenogaster in Australia. It occurs in a wide range of habitats from swampy coastal scrub, wet sclerophyll and rainforests through to dry sclerophyll and Callitris woodlands. Nests in sandy soil are often highly visible with large, funnel-shaped entrances while nests in firmer soils are less obvious with low, scattered soil around entrances. Nests are also found under rocks or other objects on the ground. Activity around nests is generally restricted to a few workers excavating soil or defending the nest entrance. Foraging activity is primarily nocturnal and seems to be limited with workers foraging singly and primarily near the nest. This species has an extensive literature, including the following: Banks (1916) (association with mites), Crawley (1922a: 122) (biology), Barrett (1927) (habits, as A. longipes (sic)), Clark (1929: 121) (distribution), Clark (1934: 58) (distribution), Smith and Atherton (1944: 4) (biology, economic importance), Sloane and Sloane (1964) (nesting biology), Berg (1975) (seed dispersal), Imai, Crozier and Taylor (1977) (karyotype), Greenslade and Thompson (1981) (biology), Humphreys (1981) (relation to soils), Humphreys and Mitchell (1983) (relation to soils), Cowan et al. (1985) (relation to soils), Andersen (1988a) (relation to fire), Anderson (1988b) (relation to plants), Hughes and Westoby (1992a) (seed dispersal), Hughes and Westoby (1992b) (seed dispersal), Nicholls and McKenzie (1994) (distribution pattern) and York (1994) (relation to fire).

Photo Gallery

  • Aphaenogaster longiceps worker removing soil from her nest. Merimbula, New South Wales (photo by Steve Shattuck).
  • Shattuck C7515-1, Aphaenogaster longiceps, Broulee, NSW-web.jpg
  • Shattuck C7957-1, Aphaenogaster longiceps, Broulee, NSW-web.jpg
  • Shattuck 9213-2, Aphaenogaster longiceps, Broulee NSW-web.jpg
  • Shattuck 9389-1, Aphaenogaster longiceps, Broulee NSW-web.jpg
  • Shattuck 65509, Aphaenogaster longiceps, Broulee, NSW.JPG
  • Queen, Grampians National Park, Victoria, Australia. Photo by Jordan Dean.


Hairs on underside of head randomly distributed and not forming a distinct psammophore; posterior margin of head broadly arched in full face view; shorter erect hairs on mesosomal dorsum (especially those on mesonotum) with blunt tips; propodeal spines long, the dorsal surfaces of propodeum and propodeal spines connected through a gentle concavity (so that the base of each spine is at approximately the same level as the dorsal surface of the propodeum). The long scapes and blunt mesonotal hairs will separate this species from near relatives.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -17.36666667° to -39.03333333°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).
Oriental Region: India, Nicobar Island.
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.





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

  • longiceps. Myrmica longiceps Smith, F. 1858b: 128 (w.) AUSTRALIA (Victoria).
    • Mayr, 1876: 98 (q.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1972b: 238 (l.); Imai, Crozier & Taylor, 1977: 348 (k.).
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster: Mayr, 1876: 98;
    • combination in Aphaenogaster (Ischnomyrmex): Emery, 1888a: 532 (footnote);
    • combination in Stenamma (Ischnomyrmex): Forel, 1899a: 118;
    • combination in Aphaenogaster (Deromyrma): Forel, 1913g: 187;
    • combination in Aphaenogaster (Nystalomyrma): Wheeler, W.M. 1916j: 216; Emery, 1921f: 61.
    • Status as species: Mayr, 1863: 433; Lowne, 1865b: 334; Mayr, 1876: 98; Mayr, 1877: 20 (in list); Emery, 1888a: 532 (footnote key); Dalla Torre, 1893: 103; Forel, 1899a: 118; Forel, 1902h: 439; Forel, 1907h: 284; Forel, 1913g: 187; Forel, 1915b: 76; Emery, 1915d: 71; Wheeler, W.M. 1916j: 216 (redescription); Emery, 1921f: 61; Crawley, 1922c: 19 (redescription); Clark, 1929: 121; Clark, 1934c: 58; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 54; Taylor, 1987a: 8; Bolton, 1995b: 70; Shattuck, 2008a: 33 (redescription); Mohanraj, et al. 2010: 6 (error); Guénard & Dunn, 2012: 40 (error); Bharti, Guénard, et al. 2016: 33 (error).
    • [Note: the entries by Mohanraj, et al. 2010: 6, Guénard & Dunn, 2012: 40, and Bharti, Guénard, et al. 2016, are most probably misidentifications as Shattuck, 2008a: 33, restricts the distribution of longiceps to eastern and south-southern Australia.]
    • Senior synonym of flava: Shattuck, 2008a: 33.
    • Senior synonym of ruginota: Wheeler, W.M. 1916j: 217; Emery, 1921f: 61; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 54; Taylor, 1987a: 8; Bolton, 1995b: 70; Shattuck, 2008a: 33.
  • flava. Aphaenogaster (Nystalomyrma) longiceps var. flava Emery, 1921f: 61 (m.) AUSTRALIA.
    • Subspecies of longiceps: Bolton, 1995b: 69.
    • Junior synonym of longiceps: Shattuck, 2008a: 33.
  • ruginota. Stenamma (Ischnomyrmex) longiceps r. ruginota Forel, 1902h: 440 (w.q.) AUSTRALIA (New South Wales, Victoria).
    • Emery, 1914b: 181 (m.); Forel, 1915b: 75 (m.).
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster: Emery, 1914b: 181;
    • combination in Aphaenogaster (Deromyrma): Forel, 1915b: 75.
    • Subspecies of longiceps: Emery, 1914b: 181; Viehmeyer, 1924b: 311.
    • Status as species: Forel, 1915b: 75.
    • Junior synonym of longiceps: Wheeler, W.M. 1916j: 217; Emery, 1921f: 61; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 54; Taylor, 1987a: 8; Bolton, 1995b: 72; Shattuck, 2008a: 33.

Type Material

Taxonomic Notes

Emery's (1921) A. flava is here treated as a junior synonym of A. longiceps. A. flava was established by indication based on a male from Queensland and figured in Emery (1914). Emery (1914) presented two figures, one identified as longiceps from Queensland and the other as longiceps ruginota from Sydney. Emery (1921) based flava on the figure of longiceps. Wheeler (1916) (before Emery established flava) stated that the differences between these males were "insignificant" and considered them to belong to the same taxon, longiceps (he considered ruginota to be a synonym of longiceps, a treatment supported during this study); he also mentions that the male of pythia is quite different. Unfortunately Emery (1921) gave no information on why he considered flava to be a distinct taxon.

In fact the males of longiceps and pythia are very similar, differing mainly in colour and size (being larger and darker in longiceps). The male of barbara, the only other species of Aphaenogaster known from Queensland, differs from both longiceps and pythia in lacking a metanotal groove and in having the occipital collar rounded. The males of both longiceps and pythia have distinct, angular metanotal grooves and the occipital collars are angular. What Wheeler (1916) considered to be the male of pythia may well have actually been the male barbara.

Emery's (1914) illustration of longiceps gives little hint as to whether this male belongs to longiceps or pythia, although barbara can be safely eliminated. The shape of the head does differ slightly between longiceps and pythia, and Emery's figure resembles longiceps more closely than pythia. Based on this flava is here treated as a synonym of longiceps rather than pythia.

It should be noted that the name flava was overlooked for 74 years, until Bolton (1995) drew attention to it in his world catalogue. The name's obscurity was due to the cryptic way in which it was established. The name was based on a scant two lines of text, one consisting of "flava, Emery" and a second with a reference to Emery (1914). It is easy to see why the name was overlooked for such an extended period of time.


Posterior margin of head broadly arched in full face view, the arch beginning at the occipital collar and with at most a weak angle separating the posterior and lateral margins of the head (often posterior and lateral margins forming a continuous surface). Hairs on venter of head randomly distributed and not forming a distinct psammophore. Mandibular sculpture composed of regularly sized striations. Shorter erect hairs on mesosomal dorsum (especially those on mesonotum) with blunt tips. Propodeal spines intermediate in length. Dorsal surfaces of propodeum and propodeal spines connected through a gentle concavity (so that the base of each spine is at approximately the same level as the dorsal surface of the propodeum). Petiolar node (in dorsal view) approximately square.


Worker (n = 10, units = mm). CI 78-89; EI 19-24; EL 0.18-0.25; HL 0.99-1.43; HW 0.82-1.25; ML 1.50-2.07; MTL 1.04-1.41; SI 130-161; SL 1.3 1-1 .71.

  • CI: Cephalic index: HW/HL x 100.
  • EI: Eye index: EL/HW x 100.
  • EL: Maximum eye length with eye in full face view.
  • HL: Maximum head length in full face (dorsal) view, measured from the anterior-most point of the clypeal margin to the posterior-most point of the head proper (excluding the occipital collar).
  • HW: Maximum head width in full face (dorsal) view excluding the eyes.
  • ML: Mesosomal length measured from the anterior surface of the pronotum proper (excluding the collar) to the posterior extension of the propodeal lobes.
  • MTL: Maximum length of mid tibia, excluding the proximal part of the articulation which is received into the distal end of the femur.
  • SI: Scape index: SL/HW x 100.
  • SL: Length of the scape (first antennal segment) excluding the basal neck and condyle.


  • 2n = 45; 46 (Australia) (Imai et al., 1977) (a metacentric pair is single and two telocentric corresponds the arms).


  • Andersen, A.N. (1988). Immediate and longer-term effects of fire on seed predation by ants in sclerophyllous vegetation in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology, 13: 285–293.
  • Andersen, A.N. (1988). Soil of the nest-mound of the seed-dispersing ant, Aphaenogaster longiceps, enhances seedling growth. Australian Journal of Ecology, 13: 469–471
  • Banks, N. (1916). Acarians from Australian and Tasmanian ants and ant-nests. Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Aust. 60: 224–240.
  • Barrett, C. (1927). Ant life in Central Australia. Victorian Naturalist (Melbourne), 44: 209–212.
  • Berg, R. Y. (1975). Myrmecochorous plants in Australia and their dispersal by ants. Australian Journal of Botany, 23: 475–508.
  • Cantone S. 2018. Winged Ants, The queen. Dichotomous key to genera of winged female ants in the World. The Wings of Ants: morphological and systematic relationships (self-published).
  • Clark, J. (1929). Results of a collecting trip to the Cann River, East Gippsland. Victorian Naturalist (Melbourne), 46: 115–123.
  • Clark, J. (1934). Ants from the Otway Ranges. Memoirs of the National Museum of Victoria, 8: 48–73.
  • Cowan, J. A., Humphreys, G. S., Mitchell, P. B., Murphy, C. L. (1985). An assessment of pedoturbation by two species of mound-building ants, Camponotus intrepidus (Kirby) and Iridomyrmex purpureus (F. Smith). Australian Journal of Soil Research, 23: 95–107.
  • Crawley, W. C. (1922). Notes on some Australian ants. Biological notes by E. B. Poulton, D.Sc., M.A., F.R.S., and notes and descriptions of new forms by W. C. Crawley, B.A., F.E.S., F.R.M.S. (concl.). Entomologist's Monthly Magazine, 58: 121–126.
  • Crawley, W. C. 1922e. New ants from Australia (concluded from vol. ix. p. 449). Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 9(10): 16-36 (page 19, Type-material redescribed)
  • Emery, C. (1914). Formiche d'Australia e di Samoa raccolte dal Prof. Silvestri nel 1913. Bollettino del Laboratorio di Zoologia Generale e Agraria della Reale Scoula Superiore d'Agricoltura. Portici, 8: 179–186 .
  • Emery, C. (1921). Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [part]. Genera Insectorum, 174A: 1–94 + 7 plates.
  • Forel, A. (1899). Formicidae. (part). Biol. Cent.-Am. Hym. 3: 105–136.
  • Forel, A. (1902). Fourmis nouvelles d'Australie. Revue Suisse de Zoologie, 10: 405–548.
  • Forel, A. (1913). Fourmis de Tasmanie et d'Australie récoltées par MM. Lae, Froggatt etc. Bulletin de la Société Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles, (5)49: 173–195.
  • Forel, A. (1915). Results of Dr. E. Mjöbergs Swedish Scientific Expeditions to Australia 1910-13. 2. Ameisen. Arkiv för Zoologi, 9(16): 1–119.
  • Forel, A. 1899a. Heterogyna (Formicidae). Fauna Hawaii. 1: 116-122 (page 118, combination in Stenamma (Ischnomyrmex))
  • Forel, A. 1913g. H. Sauter's Formosa-Ausbeute: Formicidae II. Arch. Naturgesch. (A)79(6 6: 183-202 (page 187, combination in Aphaenogaster (Deromyrma))
  • Greenslade, P. J. M., Thompson, C. H. (1981). Ant distribution, vegetation, and soil relationships in the Cooloola-Noosa River area, Queensland . pp. 192–207 in Gillison, A. N., Anderson, D. J. Vegetation classification in Australia . Canberra : C.S.I.R.O. & Australian National University Press. xxi + 229 pp.
  • Hughes, L., Westoby, M. (1992). Effect of diaspore characteristics on removal of seeds adapted for dispersal by ants. Ecology, 73: 1300–1312.
  • Hughes, L., Westoby, M. (1992). Fate of seeds adapted for dispersal by ants in Australian sclerophyll vegetation. Ecology, 73: 1285–1299.
  • Humphreys, G. S. (1981). The rate of ant mounding and earthworm casting near Sydney, New South Wales. Search (Sydney), 12 (5): 129–131.
  • Humphreys, G. S., Mitchell, P. B. (1983). A preliminary assessment of the role of bioturbation and rainwash on sandstone hillslopes in the Sydney Basin . pp. 66–80 in R. W. Young and G. C. Aspects Aspects Aspects of Australian sandstone landscapes . : Aust. N. Z. Geom. Group. Vol.Spec. Publ. No. 1.
  • Imai, H. T.; Crozier, R. H.; Taylor, R. W. 1977. Karyotype evolution in Australian ants. Chromosoma (Berl.) 59: 341-393 (page 348, karyotype described)
  • Lea, A. M. (1912). Austalian and Tasmanian Coleoptera inhabiting or resorting to the nests of ants, bees, and termites. Proc. R. Soc. Victoria, (n.s.)25: 31–78.
  • Mayr, G. 1876. Die australischen Formiciden. J. Mus. Godeffroy 12: 56-115 (page 98, queen, male described, combination in Aphaenogaster)
  • Nicholls, A. O., McKenzie, N. J. (1994). Environmental control of the local-scale distribution of funnel ants, Aphaenogaster longiceps. Mem. Qld Mus. 36: 165–172.
  • Shattuck,S.O. (2008). Australian ants of the genus Aphaenogaster (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa, 1677: 25–45.
  • Sloane, H., Sloane, A. J. (1964). The trap-nest or sand ant. Vict. Nat. 81: 165–167.
  • Smith, F. 1858b. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 128, worker described)
  • Smith, J. H., Atherton, D. O. (1944). Seed-harvesting and other ants in the tobacco-growing districts of North Queensland. Queensland Journal of Agricultural Science, 1: 33–61.
  • Wheeler, G. C., Wheeler, J. (1972). Ant larvae of the subfamily Myrmicinae: second supplement on the tribes Myrmicini and Pheidolini. Journal of the Georgia Entomological Society, 7: 233–246.
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1972b. Ant larvae of the subfamily Myrmicinae: second supplement on the tribes Myrmicini and Pheidolini. J. Ga. Entomol. Soc. 7: 233-246 (page 238, larva described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1916n. The Australian ants of the genus Aphaenogaster Mayr. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 40: 213-223 (page 216, combination in Aphaenogaster (Nystalomyrma); page 217, senior synonym of ruginota)
  • York, A. (1994). The long-term effects of fire on forest ant communities: management implications for the conservation of biodiveristy . Mem. Qld Mus. 36: 231–239.

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Andersen A. N. 1986. Diversity, seasonality and community organization of ants at adjacents heath and woodland sites in South-Eastern Asutralia. Australian Journal of Zoolology 34: 53-64.
  • Andersen A. N., T. D. Penman, N. Debas, and M. Houadria. 2009. Ant community responses to experimental fire and logging in a Eucalypt forest of south-eastern Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 258: 188-197.
  • Emery C. 1914. Formiche d'Australia e di Samoa raccolte dal Prof. Silvestri nel 1913. Bollettino del Laboratorio di Zoologia Generale e Agraria della Reale Scuola Superiore d'Agricoltura. Portici 8: 179-186.
  • Forel A. 1893. Nouvelles fourmis d'Australie et des Canaries. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 37: 454-466.
  • Forel A. 1915. Results of Dr. E. Mjöbergs Swedish Scientific Expeditions to Australia 1910-13. 2. Ameisen. Ark. Zool. 9(16): 1-119
  • Nooten S. S., P. Schultheiss, R. C. Rowe, S. L. Facey, and J. M. Cook. Habitat complexity affects functional traits and diversity of ant assemblages in urban green spaces (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 29: 67-77.
  • Osunkoya O. O., C. Polo, and A. N. Andersen. 2011. Invasion impacts on biodiversity: response of ant communities to infestation by cat's claw creeper vine, Macfadyena unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae) in subtropical Australia. Biol. Invasions 13: 2289-2302.
  • Shattuck S. O. 2008. Australian ants of the genus Aphaenogaster (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 1677: 25-45.
  • Shattuck, S. O. "Australian ants of the genus Aphaenogaster (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)." Zootaxa 1677 (2007): 25-45.
  • Taylor R. W. 1992. Nomenclature and distribution of some Australian and New Guinean ants of the subfamily Formicinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 31: 57-69.
  • Vanderwoude C., A. N. Andersen, and A. P. N. House. 1997. Community organisation, biogeography and seasonality of ants in a open forest of south-eastern Queensland. Australian Journal of Zoology 45: 523-537.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1916. The Australian ants of the genus Aphaenogaster Mayr. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 40: 213-223.