Odontomachus troglodytes

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Odontomachus troglodytes
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Odontomachus
Species: O. troglodytes
Binomial name
Odontomachus troglodytes
Santschi, 1914

Odontomachus troglodytes casent0047308 profile 1.jpg

Odontomachus troglodytes casent0047308 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Very common and widely spread across almost all of sub-Saharan Africa. Found to be common in open or loosely wooded areas. Nests in rotting wood on the ground or in tree stumps or among the roots at the base of trees. It can be dominant throughout the cocoa growing area, on 1.0-2.5% of cocoa trees but only on lower trunk (Taylor 1977; Taylor & Adedoyin 1978). Often found ascending cocoa trees to tend aphids and assorted other Homoptera; activity includes tent-building, using coarse soil and debris. The tents were frequently associated with cocoa black pod infections. In Benin it occurs in mango (Mangifera indica) orchards and is prey of Oecophylla longinoda (Taylor et al., 2018).

At a Glance • Limited invasive  • Facultatively polygynous  


A member of the Odontomachus haematodus group. Workers of this species can be easily distinguished from Odontomachus coquereli by their smaller size, distinct extraocular furrows and temporal ridges on vertex and short and blunt mandibular teeth.

Keys including this Species


Known from Zimbabwe, Liberia, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles and South Africa.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 25.45° to -28.98333°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Benin, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya (type locality), Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe.
Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Seychelles.
Oriental Region: Taiwan.

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.


Regional Notes


Dassou et al. (2017) found this ant to be a subordinate species at baits in Cameroon plantain agrosystems.


Fisher and Smith (2008) - Odontomachus troglodytes was first reported from Madagascar by André [38:290] as O. haematodes (Linnaeus). African and Malagasy records of haematodes actually refer to troglodytes. In Madagascar, troglodytes is widespread throughout the east in secondary habitats, including coastal scrub, eucalyptus plantations, littoral forest, and rainforest below 800 m elevation. Forel [25:159] recorded Odontomachus (as haematodes) from Seychelles. These specimens have not been examined but probably refer to Odontomachus simillimus and not troglodytes.

Because of its preference of secondary habitats, it is possible that troglodytes in Madagascar is a recent colonist from Africa, possibly introduced by humans. This is in contrast to Odontomachus coquereli which is most closely related to Melanesian species in the tyrannicus group.

Our collections in Madagascar were focused primarily on less disturbed habitats, thus its distribution probably does not reflect the full extent of its range. O. troglodytes was most often recorded nesting in rotten logs (30 collection records) followed by sifted litter (15). Males were collected at light, malaise traps, and yellow pan traps.

A lab colony was kept for a number of months and thrived on a diet of crickets, producing numerous larvae, brood, and males. The trap jaw behavior is very similar to that of O. bauri [39, Fisher unpublished]. When disturbed, the specimen use trap jaw propulsion to “jump” away.

Association with Other Organisms

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Life History Traits

  • Worker-produced males: present (Colombel, 1972; Frumhoff & Ward, 1992)
  • Mean colony size: 240 (Dejean, 1982; Dejean et al., 1964; Dejean & Bashingwa, 1985; Beckers et al., 1989)
  • Foraging behaviour: tandem recruitment (Dejean, 1982; Dejean et al., 1964; Dejean & Bashingwa, 1985; Beckers et al., 1989)



MCZ ENT Odontomachus haematodus hef.jpgMCZ ENT Odontomachus haematodus hal.jpgMCZ ENT Odontomachus haematodus had.jpgMCZ ENT Odontomachus haematodus lbs.jpgMCZ ENT Odontomachus troglodytes 001 hef.jpgMCZ ENT Odontomachus troglodytes 001 hal.jpgMCZ ENT Odontomachus troglodytes 001 had.jpgMCZ ENT Odontomachus troglodytes 001 lbs.jpg
. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Images from AntWeb

Odontomachus troglodytes casent0101134 head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0101134 profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0101134 dorsal 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0101134 label 1.jpg
Lectotype of Odontomachus troglodytesWorker. Specimen code casent0101134. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMB, Basel, Switzerland.
Odontomachus troglodytes casent0104653 head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0104653 profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0104653 dorsal 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0104653 label 1.jpg
Syntype of Odontomachus haematodus stanleyiWorker. Specimen code casent0104653. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by AMNH, New York, NY, USA.
Odontomachus troglodytes casent0104654 head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0104654 profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0104654 dorsal 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0104654 label 1.jpg
Syntype of Odontomachus haematodus stanleyiWorker. Specimen code casent0104654. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by AMNH, New York, NY, USA.
Odontomachus troglodytes casent0178263 head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0178263 profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0178263 dorsal 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0178263. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by LACM, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Odontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c000745b head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c000745b profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c000745b dorsal 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c000745b label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code sam-hym-c000745b. Photographer Hamish Robertson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by SAMC, Cape Town, South Africa.


Odontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c000745a head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c000745a profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c000745a dorsal 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c000745a label 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0178264 head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0178264 profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0178264 dorsal 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0178264 label 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0100313 head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0100313 profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0100313 dorsal 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0100313 label 1.jpg


Odontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c006238a head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c006238a profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c006238a dorsal 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes sam-hym-c006238a label 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0096412 head 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0096412 profile 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0096412 profile 2.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0096412 profile 3.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0096412 dorsal 1.jpgOdontomachus troglodytes casent0096412 label 1.jpg


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

  • troglodytes. Odontomachus haematodes var. troglodytes Santschi, 1914b: 58 (w.) KENYA.
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Brown, 1976a: 169).
    • [Note: 3 syntype workers were originally recognised, all from Shimoni; Brown does not specify which is the lectotype.]
    • Type-locality: Kenya (“Afrique orientale anglaise”): Shimoni, entrance of Cave A (1 worker), and interior of Cave B (2 workers), st. no. 9, xi.1911 (Ch. Alluaud & R. Jeannel).
    • Type-depository: NHMB.
    • André, 1887: 290 (m.); Arnold, 1915: 109 (q.); Menozzi, in Eidmann, 1944: 437 (l.).
    • Subspecies of haematodus: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 795.
    • Status as species: Brown, 1976a: 106, 167; Bolton, 1995b: 297; Dorow, 1996a: 76; Fisher & Smith, 2008: 16 (redescription); Hita Garcia, et al. 2013: 220; Borowiec, L. 2014: 139; Madl, 2019: 17.
    • Senior synonym of stanleyi: Brown, 1976a: 106; Bolton, 1995b: 297; Fisher & Smith, 2008: 16.
    • Distribution: Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, São Tomé & Principe, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
    • [Note: Afrotropical records of haematodus, prior to Brown, 1976a: 167, are properly referable to troglodytes.]
  • stanleyi. Odontomachus haematoda var. stanleyi Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 102 (w.) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated, “numerous specimens from two colonies”).
    • Type-locality: Democratic Republic of Congo (“Belgian Congo”): Stanleyville (= Kisangani) (Lang & Chapin).
    • Type-depositories: AMNH, MCZC.
    • Junior synonym of troglodytes: Brown, 1976a: 106; Bolton, 1995b: 297; Fisher & Smith, 2008: 15.

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



Fisher and Smith (2008) - Measurements: maximum and minimum based on n = 15 from Madagascar: HL 2.23–2.66, HW (across vertex) 1.56–1.92, HW (across upper eye margin) 1.69–1.98, CI 74–78, EL 0.40–0.47, ML 1.13–1.33, MI 45–54, SL 2.07–2.42, SI 117–127, WL 2.61–3.07. FL 2.28–2.65, PW 1.02–1.19.

The specimens from Madagascar are notably smaller than specimens in CAS collection from South Africa, central Africa and Sao Tome. Maximum and minimum measurements based on n = 5: HL 2.52–2.94, HW (across vertex) 1.81–2.25, HW (across upper eye margin) 1.94–2.31, CI 74–79, EL 0.41–0.51, ML 1.19–1.38, MI 47–49, SL 2.24–2.53, SI 110–122, WL 2.88–3.23. FL 2.42–2.91, PW 1.13–1.36.


Fisher and Smith (2008) - Measurements: maximum and minimum based on n = 5 from Madagascar: HL 2.59–2.74, HW (across vertex) 1.99–2.19, HW (across upper eye margin) 2.05–2.18, CI 78–79, EL 0.56–0.59, ML 1.39–1.44, MI 52–55, SL 2.36–2.52, SI 112–119, WL 3.18–3.49. FL 2.67–2.76.


Fisher and Smith (2008) - Measurements: maximum and minimum based on n = 5 from Madagascar: HL 1.00–1.04, HW 1.30–1.35, CI 127–133, EL 0.68–0.70, SL 0.22–0.26, SI 17–19, WL 2.52–2.59. FL 1.80–1.88.

Type Material

Fisher and Smith (2008):

Lectotype worker: Kenya, Shimoni cave (Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel)[examined] AntWeb CASENT0101134.

Odontomachus haematodus stanleyi. Type worker: DRC (Zaire) Stanleyville, 25° 10′E, 0°30′N Feb 1915, (American Museum of Natural History) [examined] AntWeb CASENT0104653, CASENT0104654.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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