Messor capitatus

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Messor capitatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Stenammini
Genus: Messor
Species: M. capitatus
Binomial name
Messor capitatus
(Latreille, 1798)

Messor capitatus casent0010645 profile 1.jpg

Messor capitatus casent0010645 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


A west-European ant, reported also from NW Africa (Rigato & Toni, 2011). However, Borowiec (2014) notes that this species needs taxonomic study as recently collected material showed that populations from the western part of the Mediterranean differ slightly from the eastern populations, suggesting that a complex of related species may be present.

At a Glance • Limited invasive  • Parthenogenetic  


Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 45.516667° to 31.766667°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Balearic Islands, Bulgaria, Croatia, France (type locality), Greece, Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Spain.

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.


Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Life History Traits

  • Worker-produced males: absent (Delage (1968) cited in Choe (1988); Frumhoff & Ward, 1992) (workers reported to lay fertile (haploid) eggs in queenless colonies but only trophic eggs in queenright colonies)



Orou et al. (2023) Figure 10. Messor capitatus major (A, C, E, G, H; collection code #19646) and minor (B, D, F, I, J; collection code #19643) workers. Lateral view of body (A, B); dorsal view of body (C, D); head in full-face view (E, F); frontal triangle in larger magnification (G, I); lateral view of petiole in larger magnification (H, J).


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

  • capitatus. Formica capitata Latreille, 1798: 46 (w.) FRANCE.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: France: vic. Bordeaux (Latreille?).
    • Type-depository: MNHN.
    • Latreille, 1802c: 235 (q.); Mayr, 1855: 463 (m.).
    • Combination in Manica: Jurine, 1807: 279;
    • combination in Myrmica: Losana, 1834: 325;
    • combination in Atta: Latreille, 1809: 130; Leach, 1815: 147; Brullé, 1833: 327; Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, 1835: 173; Lucas, H. 1849: 300;
    • combination in Aphaenogaster: Roger, 1863b: 29;
    • combination in Stenamma (Messor): Forel, 1902a: 148;
    • combination in Aphaenogaster (Messor): Ruzsky, 1905b: 744;
    • combination in Messor: Emery, 1908e: 449.
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Emery, 1921f: 69; Emery, 1922c: 97; Emery, 1924b: 12; Kutter, 1927: 98.
    • Junior synonym of barbarus: Smith, F. 1858b: 162; Mayr, 1861: 66 (in key); Smith, F. 1861a: 35; Roger, 1863b: 29; Mayr, 1863: 395; Dours, 1873: 167; André, 1874: 203 (in list); Emery & Forel, 1879: 461; Nasonov, 1889: 37.
    • Subspecies of barbarus: Emery, 1891b: 12; Emery, in Dalla Torre, 1893: 100 (footnote); Emery, 1893c: 84; Forel, 1894d: 31; Forel, 1902a: 148; Forel, 1904b: 373; Forel, 1904c: 5; Forel, 1905b: 176; Ruzsky, 1905b: 744; Forel, 1906c: 190; Forel, 1907b: 204; Forel, 1907e: 15; Emery, 1908e: 449 (redescription); Forel, 1909c: 104; Forel, 1909e: 371; Karavaiev, 1910b: 62; Karavaiev, 1912a: 7; Emery, 1912f: 97; Emery, 1916b: 142; Stitz, 1917: 343; Santschi, 1919e: 244; Menozzi, 1922b: 326; Ruzsky, 1923: 4; Santschi, 1923f: 325; Finzi, 1924a: 13; Santschi, 1925g: 341; Santschi, 1926f: 286; Finzi, 1929: 80; Cori & Finzi, 1931: 238; Santschi, 1931a: 4; Santschi, 1932g: 3; Finzi, 1933: 163; Grandi, 1935: 100; Zimmermann, 1935: 17; Menozzi, 1936d: 276; Finzi, 1940: 159; Consani & Zangheri, 1952: 40; Ceballos, 1956: 301.
    • Status as species: Latreille, 1802c: 234; Jurine, 1807: 279; Latreille, 1809: 130; Leach, 1815: 147; Brullé, 1833: 327; Losana, 1834: 325; Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, 1835: 173; Brullé, 1840: 84; Lucas, H. 1849: 300; Schenck, 1852: 135; Mayr, 1855: 462 (redescription); Nylander, 1856b: 83; Mayr, 1866b: 896; Dalla Torre, 1893: 101; Bondroit, 1918: 153; Lomnicki, 1925b: 2; Baroni Urbani, 1964b: 40; Baroni Urbani, 1964c: 150; Cagniant, 1966b: 279; Bernard, 1967: 147 (redescription); Baroni Urbani, 1968b: 427; Cagniant, 1968a: 143; Baroni Urbani, 1969a: 331; Collingwood & Yarrow, 1969: 62; Cagniant, 1970a: 416; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 57; Baroni Urbani, 1974: 232; Collingwood, 1978: 81 (in key); Bernard, 1980: 266; Schembri & Collingwood, 1981: 425; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987a: 54; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b: 271 (in key); Casevitz-Weulersse, 1990b: 156 (in key); De Haro & Collingwood, 1994: 99; Bolton, 1995b: 253; Mei, 1995: 761; Poldi, et al. 1995: 3; Espadaler, 1997b: 30; Cagniant & Espadaler, 1998: 423; Markó & Csösz, 2002: 116; Bračko, 2006: 137; Cagniant, 2006a: 197; Petrov, 2006: 93 (in key); Bračko, 2007: 17; Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowski, 2009: 489; Lapeva-Gjonova, et al. 2010: 15; Karaman, M.G. 2011b: 36; Legakis, 2011: 9; Borowiec, L. & Salata, 2012: 512; Borowiec, L. 2014: 103; Bračko, et al. 2014: 14; Lebas, et al. 2016: 294.
    • Senior synonym of galbula: Emery, 1921f: 70; Bolton, 1995b: 253.
    • Senior synonym of huberiana: Emery, 1921f: 70; Bolton, 1995b: 253.
    • Senior synonym of nigra: Menozzi, 1921: 26; Emery, 1922c: 97; Finzi, 1924a: 13; Finzi, 1929: 80; Cori & Finzi, 1931: 238; Zimmermann, 1935: 17; Bernard, 1967: 147; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 58; Collingwood, 1978: 68; Bolton, 1995b: 253; Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowski, 2009: 489.
    • Distribution: Algeria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, France (+ Corsica), Greece, Italy (+ Sardinia, Sicily), Macedonia, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain (+ Balearics), Tunisia.
    • Current subspecies: nominal plus nigricans Santschi, 1929f.
  • galbula. Myrmica galbula Losana, 1834: 326, pl. 36, fig. 5 (w.) ITALY.
    • Type-material: holotype (?) worker.
    • [Note: no indication of number of specimens is given.]
    • Type-locality: Italy: Piedmont (M. Losana).
    • Type-depository: unknown (no material is known to exist).
    • [Note: author not mentioned in Horn & Kahle, 1935: 159.]
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster: Roger, 1863b: 29.
    • Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 109.
    • Junior synonym of barbarus: Roger, 1863b: 29; Emery & Forel, 1879: 461.
    • Junior synonym of capitatus: Emery, 1921f: 70; Bolton, 1995b: 254.
  • huberiana. Formica huberiana Leach, 1825: 290 (w.q.m.) FRANCE.
    • Type-material: syntype worker(s), syntype queen(s), syntype male(s) (numbers not stated).
    • Type-localities: Switzerland: northern Switzerland (“Habitat in Helvetia Boreali”) (W.E. Leach), France: Risso, nr Nice (W.E. Leach).
    • Type-depository: unknown (in BMNH, according to Horn & Kahle, 1935: 151).
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster: Roger, 1863b: 29.
    • Junior synonym of barbarus: Roger, 1863b: 29; Mayr, 1863: 395; Emery & Forel, 1879: 461; Dalla Torre, 1893: 100.
    • Junior synonym of capitatus: Emery, 1921f: 70; Bolton, 1995b: 254.
  • nigra. Aphaenogaster barbara var. nigra André, 1883b: 355 (w.q.) FRANCE (mainland, Corsica), ITALY (mainland, Sardinia, Sicily), ALGERIA.
    • Type-material: syntype workers, syntype queens (numbers not stated).
    • Type-localities: France: (+ Corsica) (no further data), Italy: (+ Sardinia, Sicily) (no further data), Algeria (no further data).
    • Type-depository: MNHN.
    • Emery, 1908e: 447 (m.).
    • Combination in Stenamma (Messor): Ruzsky, 1902d: 28;
    • combination in Messor: Emery, 1908e: 446.
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Emery, 1891b: 12; Emery, 1908e: 446; Emery, 1912f: 97; Emery, 1914d: 156; Emery, 1915a: 245; Emery, 1916b: 142; Menozzi, 1918: 82; Soudek, 1925b: 15.
    • Subspecies of barbarus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 100; Ruzsky, 1902d: 28; Emery, 1908d: 23; Forel, 1909c: 104; Forel, 1909e: 379; Forel, 1911d: 346; Krausse, 1912b: 164; Müller, 1923b: 63.
    • Junior synonym of capitatus: Menozzi, 1921: 26; Emery, 1922c: 97; Finzi, 1924a: 13; Finzi, 1929: 80; Cori & Finzi, 1931: 238; Zimmermann, 1935: 17; Bernard, 1967: 147; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 58; Collingwood, 1978: 68; Bolton, 1995b: 255; Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowski, 2009: 489.

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



Orou et al. (2023) - Measurements in tables (Table S1, 7) in publication. Relatively large species; Head size (CS) 1787 μm [936, 3520]. Color: minor and major workers concolorous brown to black.

Head: Ground surface smooth, or shagreened. Head of minor workers often without rugae and rugulae; in major workers rugae and rugulae on head dorsum and postocular sides inconspicuous, ground surface smooth, or shagreened, shiny, sides, genae, and frontal carinae conspicuously rugulose, or rugose. Surface around the antennal sockets with concentric rugulae. Anterior clypeal border conspicuously dentate. Clypeus longitudinally costulate, posterior third of clypeus often without costulae. Ground surface smooth or shagreened. Median clypeal costa conspicuous.

Frontal triangle inconspicuously sculptured. Ground surface smooth, shagreened; in major workers lateral parts irregularly striate, medially smooth. In both subcastes median clypeal costa does not surpass the clypeal-frontal triangular border. Psammophore absent, only straight or C-shaped hairs present posterior to buccal cavity. Basal scape lobe well-developed (ScBaC/CS 0.041 [0.032, 0.053]), having an acute projection externally.

Mesosoma: feebly sculptured. In minor workers dorsum of pronotum shagreened and moderately shiny, sides shagreened; in major workers dorsum and upper sides of pronotum shagreened, feebly rugulose, ventral-most part of the propleuron inconspicuously sculptured, irregularly rugulose, ground surface shagreened, dull. Mesonotum dorsum and mesopleuron in both subcastes transversally rugose, ground surface punctate or shagreened, dull. Propodeum dorsum and sides in minor workers with very feeble transversal rugulae, ground surface shagreened, moderately shiny sometimes asymmetrically rugose, in major workers dorsum and sides transversally, and symmetrically rugose. Propodeum in minor workers rounded in profile; in major workers propodeum angulate with a pair of propodeal tubercles, which are dentiform in the largest workers i.e. sharp longitudinal ridges on the dorsum of propodeal tubercles absent.

Petiole and postpetiole: Petiolar node with numerous pairs of long (200–400 μm) hairs. Sides of peduncle with a pair of standing setae longer than 100 μm (100–150 μm).


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