Leptomyrmex nigriceps

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Leptomyrmex nigriceps
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Tribe: Leptomyrmecini
Genus: Leptomyrmex
Species: L. nigriceps
Binomial name
Leptomyrmex nigriceps
Emery, 1914

Leptomyrmex nigriceps casent0127341 p 1 high.jpg

Leptomyrmex nigriceps casent0127341 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

L. nigriceps has been recorded in rainforest, Agathis woodland, cloud forest and low, closed riparian forest. Nests have been found in rotting stumps.

At a Glance • Replete Workers  


L. nigriceps resembles the other two New Caledonian Leptomyrmex (Leptomyrmex pallens and Leptomyrmex geniculatus) but can be recognized by its distinctive color pattern: dark head and gaster on an otherwise orange body. This species appears to be restricted to the ultramafic southern tip of the island, where it occurs in sympatry or parapatry with L. pallens. (Lucky and Ward 2010)

Key to New Caledonian Leptomyrmex Species

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -22.08333397° to -22.23332977°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: New Caledonia (type locality).

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 Leptomyrmex biology 
These conspicuous ants are most often encountered individually or as small groups of 2 or 3 foragers on the surface of the ground any time of the day or night. Because of their long legs and thin bodies, they superficially resemble spiders. This is especially true when they are disturbed, as they extend their legs, raise their gasters, and run quickly to escape danger. This has led to their being given the common name "spider ants."

Nests are found in soil or in dead wood, either standing or on the ground, and are often at the base of trees. Colony sizes average a few hundred workers and a single queen. In all but a handful of species, the queen is wingless and worker-like, differing from workers only in being slightly larger and with an enlarged mesosoma. In a few species the queens are fully winged, as they are in most other ants.

When a large source of food is found, workers of Leptomyrmex will return to their nest and recruit additional workers to help utilise the newly found resource. They also use workers as "living storage vessels". These special workers, called repletes, accept liquids from returning foragers who transfer their liquid foods to these selected workers. These special workers continue to accept liquids until their gasters become greatly enlarged and extended. When enlarged, repletes cannot escape the nest and remain inside suspended from the ceiling. They can retain these fluids for extended periods and dispense it on demand when food is in short supply. ‎



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Queens have yet to be collected.



Leptomyrmex neotropicus (fossil only)

Leptomyrmex relictus


Leptomyrmex burwelli

Leptomyrmex dolichoscapus


Leptomyrmex mjobergi

Leptomyrmex varians

Leptomyrmex unicolor

Leptomyrmex flavitarsus

Leptomyrmex puberulus

Leptomyrmex darlingtoni

Leptomyrmex fragilis

Leptomyrmex niger

Leptomyrmex erythrocephalus

Leptomyrmex wiburdi

Leptomyrmex cnemidatus

Leptomyrmex nigriventris

Leptomyrmex tibialis

Leptomyrmex geniculatus

Leptomyrmex nigriceps

Leptomyrmex pallens

Leptomyrmex rufithorax

Leptomyrmex rufipes

Leptomyrmex rothneyi

Leptomyrmex ruficeps

Based on Barden et al., 2017. Note only selected Leptomyrmex species are included.


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

  • nigriceps. Leptomyrmex pallens var. nigriceps Emery, 1914f: 418 (w.) NEW CALEDONIA. Lucky & Ward, 2010: 42 (m.). Subspecies of pallens: Wheeler, W.M. 1934c: 109. Raised to species: Lucky & Ward, 2010: 42.

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



Lucky and Ward (2010) – measurements (n = 9) HL 1.68–1.90, HW 0.92–1.01, MFC 0.20–0.25, IOD 0.54–0.60, SL 3.17–3.47, EL 0.29–0.36, WL 3.03–3.41, PW 0.75–0.86, DPW 0.27–0.33, HTL 3.57–4.11, HTWmin 0.10–0.14, HTWmax 0.14–0.18, CI 0.52–0.56, SI 3.27–3.56, OI 0.08–0.10, HTC 0.65–0.95.

As in Leptomyrmex geniculatus, but with femora unicolorous pale and head black. Gaster and head, excluding mandibles and antennae, black, with remainder of body pale orange.


Lucky and Ward (2010) – measurements (n = 1) HL 1.24, HW 0.97, SL 0.36, EL 0.53, HTL 3.90, CI 0.78, SI 0.37, SI2 0.81.

Type Material

Lucky and Ward (2010) – type material examined, Syntype, 1 worker, New Caledonia: La Madeleine (Sarasin & Roux) Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Berman M., A. N. Andersen, C. Hé ly, and C. Gaucherel. 2013. Overview of the distribution, habitat association and impact of exotic ants on native ant communities in New Caledonia. PLoS ONE 8(6): e67245. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067245
  • CSIRO Collection
  • Emery, C. 1914. Les fourmis de la Nouvelle-Calédonie et des îles Loyalty. Nova Caledonia. A. Zoologie 1:393-437.
  • Jennings J. T., L. Krogmann, and C. Burwell. 2013. Review of the hymenopteran fauna of New Caledonia with a checklist of species. Zootaxa 3736(1): 1-53.
  • Jourdan H., J. Konghouleux. 2005. Bilan entomologique des noyaux forestiers dits, S2 à S5, à Prony, définies par Goro Nickel SA. Rapport d'Expertise IRD / Goro Nickel SA, 15 pages.
  • Jourdan H., and Joel Konghouleux. 2005. Bilan entomologique des noyaux forestiers dits, « S2 et S5 », à Prony, définies par Goro Nickel SA. IRD 16 pages
  • Le Breton J., J. Chazeau and H. Jourdan. 2002. Expression de Wasmannia dans une forêt dense humide et impact sur la myrmécofaune native de litière. P 57-63. In Etude de l'invasion de la Nouvelle-Calédonie par la fourmi pionnière Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger): modalités, impact sur la diversité et le fonctionnement des écosystèmes, moyens d'une maîtrise de la nuisance. Programme INWASCAL, Conventions Sciences de la Vie, Zoologie Appliquée 13.
  • Le Breton J., J. Chazeau, and H. Jourdan. 2003. Immediate impacts of invasion by Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on native litter ant fauna in a New Caledonian rainforest. Austral Ecology 28: 204–209.
  • Lucky A., and P. S. Ward. 2010. Taxonomic revision of the ant genus Leptomyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 2688: 1-67.
  • Shattuck S. O. 1994. Taxonomic catalog of the ant subfamilies Aneuretinae and Dolichoderinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). University of California Publications in Entomology 112: i-xix, 1-241.
  • Taylor R. W. 1987. A checklist of the ants of Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) Division of Entomology Report 41: 1-92.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1915. The Australian honey-ants of the genus Leptomyrmex Mayr. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 51: 255-286.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1934. A second revision of the ants of the genus Leptomyrmex Mayr. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 77: 69-118.
  • Wheeler W.M. 1935. Check list of the ants of Oceania. Occasional Papers of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum 11(11):1-56.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1927. The ants of Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. Proc. Am. Acad. Arts Sci. 62: 121-153