Myrmecocystus pyramicus

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Myrmecocystus pyramicus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Lasiini
Genus: Myrmecocystus
Subgenus: Myrmecocystus
Species group: pyramicus
Species: M. pyramicus
Binomial name
Myrmecocystus pyramicus
Smith, M.R., 1951

Myrmecocystus pyramicus casent0104938 profile 1.jpg

Myrmecocystus pyramicus casent0104938 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

A primarily nocturnal foraging species that has nests that are topped by a low mounds.

At a Glance • Replete Workers  


A member of the pyramicus group of the Myrmecoystus subgenus Myrmecocystus .

Key to Myrmecocystus subgenus Myrmecocystus species.

This species has been adequately described by Smith (1951) and by Cole (1957). The strongly, angularly projecting propodeum is characteristic of this species and the closely related Myrmecocystus ewarti of California. The lack of erect hairs on the pronotum, disc of the first tergum and the extensor surface of the hind tibia will separate workers of pyramicus from those of ewarti. (Snelling 1976)

Keys including this Species


United States. Southern Oregon and Idaho, south to Nevada and California.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 42.973584° to 37.63°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (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.


Collected in areas of Great Basin Sagebrush, Sagebrush Steppe and Saltbush-Greasewood Desert. In the Sagebrush Steppe of Idaho the elevational range is from 2350' to 5400'. In Nevada, where most records are from Great Basin Sagebrush areas, the elevation range is from about 4000' to 6700'. All records of this species are from Upper Sonoran or Transition Zone localities.


Snelling (1976) - A Great Basin species. Although foraging is mostly nocturnal, I have found Myrmecocystus pyramicus workers active outside the nest at midday in Oregon and Idaho. In both instances, though, rain was imminent and the sky was completely overcast. As expected, workers gather nectar from flowers and extrafloral nectaries, as well as from aphids and pseudococcids. They are also general scavengers. Repletes have been recovered from nests in Idaho.

The type series was collected by Ira La Rivers, with the notation "swarming nr. sundown." These specimens were collected on 7 April 1951. The reproductive have been taken in the nests in April, June and September. Mating flights evidently occur during spring and late summer rainy periods.

The type series was collected from a "... small, open mound nest in a sand clearing of Artemisia tridentate ..." Nests which I have observed were all marked by a low crateriform tumulus of fine to coarse sand grains. Since all these were seen during the summer rainy season, the tumuli were likely worn down. Most of the nests have been located in deep, sandy soil. An exception was that discovered in Owyhee County, Idaho. This nest was in deep alkali pan. This soil was very dense and excavation was not complete, but the nest probably continued down into an underlying layer of sand, as the tumulus consisted wholly of coarse sand particles.



MCZ-ENT00028919 Myrmecocystus pyramicus hef.jpgMCZ-ENT00028919 Myrmecocystus pyramicus hal.jpgMCZ-ENT00028919 Myrmecocystus pyramicus had.jpgMCZ-ENT00028919 Myrmecocystus pyramicus lbs.jpg
. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.



Myrmecocystus christineae

Myrmecocystus pyramicus

Myrmecocystus (near mexicanus 01)

Myrmecocystus melanoticus

Myrmecocystus navajo

Myrmecocystus (near mexicanus 02)

Myrmecocystus testaceus

Myrmecocystus testaceus

Myrmecocystus (near navajo)

Myrmecocystus creightoni

Myrmecocystus perimeces

Myrmecocystus hammettensis

Myrmecocystus arenarius

Myrmecocystus lugubris

Myrmecocystus tenuinodis

Myrmecocystus colei

Myrmecocystus tenuinodis

Myrmecocystus (near mendex 05)

Myrmecocystus (near colei)

Myrmecocystus kathjuli

Myrmecocystus wheeleri

Myrmecocystus (near mendax 01)

Myrmecocystus (near placodops 01)

Myrmecocystus (near placodops 02)

Myrmecocystus semirufus

Myrmecocystus (near mendex 02)

Myrmecocystus koso

Myrmecocystus (near placodops 02)

Myrmecocystus (near melliger)

Myrmecocystus (near mendax 03)

Myrmecocystus (near mendax 04)

Myrmecocystus yuma

Myrmecocystus flaviceps

Myrmecocystus (SON-1)

Myrmecocystus depilis

Myrmecocystus (near mimicus-flaviceps 01)

Myrmecocystus intonsus

Myrmecocystus (near mimicus-flaviceps 02)

Myrmecocystus (near mimicus-flaviceps 03)

Myrmecocystus nequazcatl

Myrmecocystus romainei

Myrmecocystus (near kennedyi-romainei)

Myrmecocystus kennedyi

Myrmecocystus kennedyi

Myrmecocystus (near kennedyi)

Based on van Elst et al. (2021).


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

  • pyramicus. Myrmecocystus pyramicus Smith, M.R. 1951c: 91, figs. 1-3 (w.) U.S.A. Cole, 1958b: 129 (q.m.). See also: Snelling, R.R. 1976: 132.

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



Snelling 1976 figs. 299-307

Snelling (1976) - Few or no erect hairs on malar area, antennal scape and tibiae (except beneath); propodeum, at juncture of dorsal and posterior faces, angularly produced upward; petiolar scale compressed; erect pronotal hairs, when present, shorter than apical breadth of scape. Female. Penultimate maxillary palpal segment narrowed basally and apically; tibiae without erect hairs; OOD 3 x OD; first tergum without erect discal hairs; rnesoscutum, between parapsides, with scattered coarse and fine punctures. Male. Forewing without fringe hairs on apical margin; scape and tibiae without erect hairs.

Measurements. HL 0.83-1.26; HW 0.73-1.23; SL 1.06-1.50; WL 1.2-1.9; PW 0.50-0.76.

Head: Longer than broad in all sizes, CI 85-97; distinctly shorter than scape, SI 117-132. In frontal view head broadest about midway between eyes and mandibular bases, sides thus convex but only slightly so; sides slightly narrowed toward mandibular insertions. Occiput, in frontal view, flattened, sides convex, not angulate. Eye large, 1.5-2.0 x first flagellomere; OMD 0.90-1.15 x EL. Mandible seven-toothed, occasionally with an intercalary denticle between subbasal and basal teeth.

Thorax: Slender, PW 0.38-0.46 x WL. Basal face of propodeum pyramidally produced upward at juncture with posterior face, about half as long as posterior face.

Petiole: Compressed when viewed in profile; from behind, crest narrow, angularly excised in middle; from above, about twice wider than long.

Vestiture: Erect cephalic hairs sparse, confined to clypeus, frontal lobes and occiput, those of clypeus much shorter on disc than at sides; longest occipital hairs less than 0.5 x MOD. Pronotal hairs sparse, sometimes absent, longest hairs always shorter than apical breadth of scape; mesonotum with 2-6 short erect hairs; propodeum without erect hairs. Petiolar scale with a few inconspicuous fine hairs on crest. First tergum with hairs on apical margin only; second tergum usually without erect discal hairs, occasionally a few fine hairs present laterad; following terga with scattered short discal hairs and usual longer marginal hairs. Scape, femora (except beneath) and tibiae (except beneath) without erect hairs (rarely 2 or 3 short suberect hairs on basal one-fourth of hind tibia).

Pubescence dilute, very short, but producing evident sheen on cephalic and thoracic dorsa and first three terga.

Integument: Front of head shiny, polished between punctures; clypeal punctures sparse, coarse; frontal punctures dense, fine; malar area shagreened, duller than frons, with scattered elongate fine punctures; integument otherwise moderately shiny, finely shagreened.

Color: Light brownish yellow, legs and antennae more yellowish; mandibular teeth ferruginous to blackish ferruginous.


Snelling (1976) - Measurements. HL 1.43-1.50 mm; HW 1.56-1.60; SL 1.46-1.53; EL 0.50-0.53; OMD 0.50-0.53; WL 3.3-3.4; PW 1.9-2.0.

Head: Broader than long, CI 107-109; a little shorter than to a little longer than, scape, SI 93-102. In frontal view, head broadest immediately above mandibular insertions, sides straight. In frontal view, occiput flat in middle, sides broadly rounded, without lateral angles. Eye large, about 1.5 x first flagellomere; EL 0.93-1.06 x OMD. OOD 3 x OD; IOD 3 x OD. Penultimate segment of maxillary palp broadest in middle, narrowed basally and apically.

Thorax: Robust, PW 0.55-0.60 x WL. In profile, posterior half of mesoscutum, scutellum and metanotum forming a continuous, flattened curve.

Petiole: In profile, compressed, crest sharp; distinctly angularly notched; from above, about twice wider than long.

Vestiture: Cephalic pilosity about as described for worker; pronotum with erect hairs on anterior margin; mesoscutum and scutellum with scattered long, erect yellowish hairs arising from coarse punctures; pleura with scattered erect long yellow hairs; propodeum without conspicuous erect hairs; first tergum with erect hairs on apical margin only; second tergum without erect discal hairs, or with a few scattered short hairs, third and fourth terga with scattered short erect hairs; scape without erect hairs except cluster near apex; femora with erect hairs on ventral margin only; hind tibia with sparse short subdecumbent hairs; very short fringe hairs present on apical margin of fore wing and apical and posterior margins of hind wing.

Pubescence long, yellowish, appressed to decumbent on head, thorax and appendages; fully appressed and abundant on first three terga, both shorter and sparser on fourth.

Integument: Clypeus coarsely punctate, interspaces shagreened and dull along midline, subpolished and shiny on lateral lobes; front of head otherwise shiny between punctures, frontal lobes finely and densely punctate, frons more finely and sparsely punctate, area between eyes and frontal lobes very sparsely and more coarsely punctate; occiput duller, very finely punctate and with finely shagreened interspaces; malar area dull, shagreened, coarsely punctate, punctures denser near mandible, those near eye elongate.

Pronotum moderately shiny between sparse, fine punctures, interspaces delicately shagreened. Parapsis densely, finely punctate, moderately shiny; disc of mesoscutum shinier, with sparse, very fine punctures laterad and scattered coarse punctures and broad central portion largely impunctate. Scutellum shiny, with sparse fine punctures, a little coarser and closer laterad. Pleura moderately shiny, closely and finely punctate. Propodeum slightly shiny, strongly shagreened, sparsely, finely and obscurely punctate.

First three terga moderately shiny, finely and sparsely punctate.

Color: Yellowish, cephalic, thoracic and gastric dorsa more brownish; legs and scapes paler. Fore wings transparent whitish, cells on costal margin with yellowish tint; veins and stigma ferruginous or brownish.


Snelling (1976) - Measurements. HL 0.70-0.86; HW 0.66-0.76; SL 0.83-0.96; EL 0.33-0.40; WL 1.7-2.1; PW 0.95-1.13.

Head: Sides slightly convergent toward mandibular insertions; head a little longer than broad, CI 88-95; distinctly shorter than scape; OMD 0.50 x EL; anterior ocellus a little smaller than lateral ocelli; IOD 2.6-3.7 x OD; OOD 1.6-2.0 x OD. Mandible with preapical notch and/or preapical tooth.

Petiole: In profile, distinctly higher than long, sharply cuneate; in frontal view, sides somewhat convergent toward broadly emarginate crest; from above, about twice wider than long.

Vestiture: Erect hairs yellowish, sparse on head and thorax, longest on scutellum, but these distinctly shorter than MOD; propodeum without conspicuous erect hairs; scape and tibiae without erect hairs, or tibiae with scattered fine reclinate hairs; first two terga without erect hairs except on apical margins; remaining terga with numerous long yellowish hairs. Fore wing without fringe hairs; hind wing with fringe on posterior margin and scattered short hairs on apical margin.

Pubescence sparse and inconspicuous on head and thorax, denser on propodeum above and first two terga.

Integument: Moderately shiny, with piligerous micropunctures, a few scattered coarse punctures on scutum and pleura.

Color: Uniformly light brownish, appendages yellowish to yellowish brown. Wings whitish hyaline, stigma and veins pale yellowish.

Type Material

Snelling (1976) - Nevada Dominion Mine, Pyramid Mining District, 5 mi W Mullen Gap, Washoe Co., NEVADA, 7 April 1951 (I. La Rivers). Holotype and paratypes in USNM; additional paratypes in collections of American Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Museum of Comparative Zoology and of Ira La Rivers.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Allred D. M. 1982. Ants of Utah. The Great Basin Naturalist 42: 415-511.
  • Allred, D.M. 1982. The ants of Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 42:415-511.
  • Beck D. E., D. M. Allred, W. J. Despain. 1967. Predaceous-scavenger ants in Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 27: 67-78
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1958. Notes on western ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the New York Entomological Society 65: 129-131.
  • La Rivers I. 1968. A first listing of the ants of Nevada. Biological Society of Nevada, Occasional Papers 17: 1-12.
  • Smith M. R. 1951. Two new ants from western Nevada (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Great Basin Naturalist 11: 91-96.
  • Snelling R. R. 1976. A revision of the honey ants, genus Myrmecocystus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Science Bulletin 24: 1-163
  • Snelling R. R. 1982. A revision of the honey ants, genus Myrmecocystus, first supplement (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 81: 69-86
  • Snelling, R.R. 1982. A revision of the honey ants, genus Myrmecocystus, first supplement (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 81(2):69-86
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Yensen N. P., W. H. Clark, and A. Francoeur. 1977. A checklist of Idaho ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 53: 181-187