Cataglyphis fortis

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Cataglyphis fortis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Cataglyphis
Species: C. fortis
Binomial name
Cataglyphis fortis
(Forel, 1902)

Cataglyphis fortis casent0906296 p 1 high.jpg

Cataglyphis fortis casent0906296 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


This is one of two species of Cataglyphis (also Cataglyphis bicolor) that have had their foraging behavior, and in particular their navigation abilities, intensively studied. The results of this body of work provide a remarkable accounting of how ants, and animals in general, can track and monitor their movement in ways that allow for sophisticated decision making. These studies have examined these two ants' sensory and nervous systems, their directional abilities, use of path integration, and view-based landmark guidance, and how all of this is brought together to determine where an individual decides to move. These ants are now a model organism for the study of animal navigation. Rüdiger Wehner has been at the center of much of this Cataglyphis research. Wehner and his colleagues have been conducting seasonal fieldwork studying C. bicolor and C. fortis in the area of Mahrès, Tunisia for 50 years (Wehner 2019). The book Desert Navigator:The Journey of an Ant (Wehner 2020) provides a fascinating summary of how this work was accomplished and its many important findings.



Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 36.45° to 32.45°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Algeria (type locality), Iraq.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb



Penmetcha et al. (2019) - Desert ants of the genus Cataglyphis and Melophorus possess all three ocelli and are the only ants in which the function of the ocelli has been studied. Size of the ocellar lens and width of the ocellar rhabdoms in cross-section are typically larger in nocturnal insects (Warrant et al. 2006; Somanathan et al. 2009; Narendra et al. 2011; Narendra and Ribi 2017). This increases their optical sensitivity and allows individuals with larger ocelli to forage in slightly dim light conditions (Wellington 1974). The desert ants that we studied being strictly day-active had small lenses and narrow rhabdoms (in Cataglyphis spp) compared to the night-active Myrmecia.

Here we characterised the anatomical organisation of the ocelli in three species of desert ants (Cataglyphis bicolor, C. fortis, and Melophorus bagoti). Cataglyphis fortis, an ant that forages exclusively in salt-pan habitat, had a fused rhabdom. The majority of the rhabdoms were composed of 2–4 retinula cells. Some retinula cells contributing microvilli in one or more orientation, indicating those cells are unlikely to be polarisation sensitive. These results suggest that some but not all retinula cells of C. fortis are likely to detect changes in polarisation pattern.



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

  • fortis. Myrmecocystus albicans var. fortis Forel, 1902a: 156 (w.) ALGERIA.
    • [Also described as new by Forel, 1903b: 455.]
    • Wehner, 1983: 95 (q.m.).
    • Combination in Cataglyphis: Emery, 1925b: 262.
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Emery, 1906d: 52.
    • Subspecies of albicans: Karavaiev, 1912a: 15; Emery, 1925b: 262; Santschi, 1929b: 61 (in key); Cagniant, 1970c: 30.
    • Status as species: Wehner, 1983: 95; Agosti, 1990b: 1494; Bolton, 1995b: 135; Borowiec, L. 2014: 55; Aneed, et al. 2018: 64 (redescription).
    • Senior synonym of halophila: Wehner, 1983: 95; Agosti, 1990b: 1494; Bolton, 1995b: 135.
  • halophila. Cataglyphis halophila Bernard, 1954: 48, figs. c, f, h (w.) ALGERIA.
    • Junior synonym of fortis: Wehner, 1983: 95; Agosti, 1990b: 1494; Bolton, 1995b: 135.



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Agosti D. 1990. Review and reclassification of Cataglyphis (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Journal of Natural History 24: 1457-1505.
  • Agosti, D. 1990. Review and reclassification of Cataglyphis (Hymentopera: Formicidae) . Journal of Natural History 24:1457-1505.
  • Bernard F. 1954. Une fourmi nouvelle: Cataglyphis halophila nichant au milieu du Chott Djerid. Bulletin de la Société des Sciences Naturelles de Tunisie 6: 47-56.
  • Cagniant, H.. "Deuxième liste de fourmis d'Algérie, récoltées principalement en forêt (Deuxième partie)." Bulletin de la Société d'Histoire Naturelle de Toulouse 106 (1970): 28-40.
  • Cagniant, H.. Les peuplements de fourmis des forêts algériennes: écologie, biocénotique, essai biologique. Universite de Toulouse, 1973.
  • Dillier, F.-X. and R. Wehner. 2004. Spatio-temporal patterns of colony distribution in monodomous and polydomous species of North African desert ants, genus Cataglyphis. Insectes Sociaux 51(2):186-196.
  • Forel, A.. "Les fourmis du Sahara algérien récoltées par M. le Professeur A. Lameere et le Dr. A. Diehl." Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 46 (1902): 147-158.
  • Karavaiev V. 1912. Ameisen aus Tunesien und Algerien, nebst einigen unterwegs in Italien gesammelten Arten. Rus. Entomol. Obozr. 12: 1-22.
  • Wolf, H. Desert ants adjust their approach to a foraging site according to experience. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 62:415-425