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Syllophopsis modesta
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Solenopsidini
Genus: Syllophopsis
Santschi, 1915
Type species
Monomorium modestum, now Syllophopsis modesta
22 species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)

Monomorium modestum casent0026710 profile 1.jpg

Monomorium modestum casent0026710 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

A small genus of rather small ants. Bolton (1987) noted the Afrotropical species are: "very widely distributed within the region. All are minute and constitute a minor fraction of the extensive leaf litter and topsoil fauna of the region."

Evolutionary Relationships

Austromorium, Bariamyrma, Dolopomyrmex, Kempfidris, Megalomyrmex, Monomorium, Oxyepoecus, Rogeria, Solenopsis, Stegomyrmex, Tropidomyrmex

Monomorium, Tyrannomyrmex

Anillomyrma, Myrmicaria







Based on Ward et al., 2014


Aldawood (2016) - The worker caste of Syllophopsis is readily identified by the combination of the following characters (Bolton 1987): monomorphic; antennae 12-segmented terminating with a 3-segmented club; median clypeal portion distinctly longitudinally bicarinate that project anteriorly as a pair of blunt teeth; eyes tiny with one or two ommatidia; promesonotal suture absent; metanotal groove impressed, sometimes less-developed but distinct; propodeal dorsum making a minute dent with declivity. In many species, propodeal outline obtusely angulate; petiole pedunculate, with a high and rounded node; postpetiole node smaller and lower than petiolar node in profile.

Keys including this Genus


Keys to Species in this Genus


Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


Syllophopsis sechellensis is known to forage both on and under the ground (Eguchi & Bui 2009).



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

  • arnoldi. Syllophopsis arnoldi Santschi, 1921c: 120, fig. 2d,e (w.) SOUTH AFRICA.
    • [Note: genus misspelled as Syllopsis in original description title; correctly spelled in legend of fig. 2.]
    • Type-material: 4 syntype workers.
    • Type-locality: South Africa: Natal, Mfongosi (Jones).
    • Type-depository: NHMB, SAMC.
    • [Junior secondary homonym of Monomorium arnoldi Forel, 1913a: 137.]
    • Status as species: Ettershank, 1966: 101.
    • Replacement name: Monomorium (Syllophopsis) jonesi Arnold, 1952a: 465.
    • [Note: as the replacement name jonesi was proposed before 1960 (when both arnoldi taxa were included in Monomorium), the replacement name retains validity under ICZN Art. 59.3. Therefore the priority awarded by Ward, et al. 2015: 73, is incorrect.]
  • boerorum. Monomorium (Syllophopsis) modestum var. boerorum Santschi, 1915c: 260, fig. 9 (w.) SOUTH AFRICA.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: South Africa: Transvaal, Pretoria (no collector’s name).
    • Type-depository: NHMB.
    • [Junior primary homonym of Monomorium minutum var. boerorum Forel, 1910e: 442.]
    • Status as species: Santschi, 1921c: 120 (in key).
    • Replacement name: Monomorium (Syllophopsis) modestum var. transwaalensis: Emery, 1922e: 175.

Aldawood (2016)- The myrmicine ant genus Syllophopsis was established by Santschi (1915) for the species Syllophopsis modestum Santschi, 1914. The genus now includes 21 valid species distributed in the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions (Bolton, 1987; Heterick, 2006), and two widespread species occurring in the Indo-Australian region and on the islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans (Wilson & Taylor, 1967).

In his comprehensive review of the Solenopsis genus-group and the Afrotropical fauna of the genus Monomorium, Bolton (1987) synonymized Syllophopsis under Monomorium, recorded seven species and described three new African species, Syllophopsis malamixta and Syllophopsis thrascolepta from Ivory Coast and Syllophopsis sersalata from Rwanda. These 10 species were included in the Monomorium fossulatum-group. In a revision of the Malagasy Monomorium, Heterick (2006) included the species of the M. fossulatum-group with the hildebrandti-group. Recently, Syllophopsis was resurrected as a valid genus by Ward, Brady, Fisher, and Schultz (2014).

The only treatment of Syllophopsis for the Arabian Peninsula was by Sharaf & Aldawood (2013), recording the genus for the first time from southwestern Saudi Arabia by the new species, Syllophopsis kondratieffi based on the worker caste. In addition, a key was provided for the species of Syllophopsis known from the Afrotropical region. Recently, Sharaf, Fisher, Collingwood, and Aldawood (unpublished data) reported the genus from Socotra Island (Yemen) for the first time by an undescribed species. In North Africa, Sharaf (2007) described Syllophopsis dentata form the Nile Valley, upper Egypt.


Bolton (1987) fossulatum group (There is currently no published diangnosis/decription of the genus that is based on an examination of all the contemporary species that belong to the genus. The following text is from Bolton (1987) and was based on what was then thought to be a Monomorium species group, as explained above by Aldawood.): Monomorphic, with some size variation but without allometric variation. Mandibles unsculptured except for hair-pits, armed with 4 teeth which decrease in size from apex to base and which usually have the masticatory margin markedly oblique. Palp formula 2,2 (all species). Anterior clypeal margin without a pair of projecting teeth. Median portion of clypeus narrow and sharply raised, weakly bicarinate at least posteriorly, the carinae tending to fade out anteriorly. Median portion of clypeus very narrow posteriorly, distinctly narrower than the maximum width of either frontal lobe where it passes between them; frontal lobes and antennal insertions consequently very close together (Fig. 93). Eyes minute and point-like, of only one or two ommatidia and situated at the midlength of the sides; maximum diameter of eye only 0.05-0.08 x HW. Antennae with 12 segments terminating in a large club of 3 segments. Head relatively narrow and scapes of moderate length, CI 72-85, SI 90-110. Cephalic dorsum unsculptured except for hair-pits. Lateral portions of clypeus and area immediately behind them, and area around antennal fossae, without striolate or costulate sculpture. Propodeum without transverse sculpture dorsally, with the spiracle circular to subcircular; propodeal dorsum meeting declivity in an obtuse angle or weakly denticulate at the junction. Petiole with a long anterior peduncle , the petiolar spiracle at the node or immediately in front of the anterior face of the node when viewed in profile. Fine standing hairs present on all dorsal surfaces of head and body except for the propodeum, where they are usually sparse or absent. (Workers examined: all included in this study plus the extralimital species Monomorium fossulatum (=Syllophopsis sechellensis) and Syllophopsis australica.)


Bolton (1987) fossulatum group (There is currently no published diangnosis/decription of the genus that is based on an examination of all the contemporary species that belong to the genus. The following text is from Bolton (1987) and was based on what was then thought to be a Monomorium species group, as explained above by Aldawood.): Diagnosis as worker but females considerably larger than conspecific workers and with much larger eyes. Ocelli present and alitrunk with full complement of flight sclerites. HW approximately equal to the maximum width of the mesoscutum, the latter extensive and slightly longer than broad, with parapsidal grooves absent or at most extremely faint. Pronotum not forming part of dorsal alitrunk; in dorsal view only the extreme anterolateral corners of the pronotum can be seen. Axillae large, triangular in dorsal view and the distance separating them is much less than the length of either axillary sclerite. Forewing with cross-vein m-cu present (Syllophopsis cryptobia). (Females examined: cryptobia, Syllophopsis malamixta, Syllophopsis sersalata, Syllophopsis australica.)


  • Aldawood, A.S. 2016. Ants of the genus Syllophopsis Santschi, 1915 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Saudi Arabia with description of a new species. Zoology in the Middle East. 62(2):137-143. DOI: 10.1080/09397140.2016.1173898.
  • Arnold, G. 1952a. New species of African Hymenoptera. No. 10. Occas. Pap. Natl. Mus. South. Rhod. 2: 460-493 (page 465, Syllophopsis as subgenus of Monomoorium)
  • Bolton, B. 1987. A review of the Solenopsis genus-group and revision of Afrotropical Monomorium Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Entomology. 54: 263-452. (page 287, Syllophopsis as junior synonym of Monomorium)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 213, Syllophopsis as junior synonym of Monomorium)
  • Dlussky, G. M.; Fedoseeva, E. B. 1988. Origin and early stages of evolution in ants. Pp. 70-144 in: Ponomarenko, A. G. (ed.) Cretaceous biocenotic crisis and insect evolution. Moskva: Nauka, 232 pp. (page 80, Syllophopsis in Myrmicinae, Monomoriini)
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1943h. A list of the type-species of the genera and subgenera of the Formicidae. [concl.]. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 11(10): 721-737 (page 729, Syllophopsis as subgenus of Monomoorium)
  • Emery, C. 1922c. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [part]. Genera Insectorum 174B: 95-206 (page 175, Syllophopsis in Myrmicinae, Solenopsidini; Syllophopsis as subgenus of Monomoorium)
  • Ettershank, G. 1966. A generic revision of the world Myrmicinae related to Solenopsis and Pheidologeton (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Aust. J. Zool. 14: 73-171 (page 81. 100, Syllophopsis in Myrmicinae, Monomorium genus group; Syllophopsis as genus)
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 242, Syllophopsis in Myrmicinae, Solenopsidini [subtribe Monomoriini]; Syllophopsis as subgenus of Monomoorium)
  • Santschi, F. 1915c. Nouvelles fourmis d'Afrique. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 84: 244-282 (page 259, Syllophopsis as subgenus of Monomoorium)
  • Santschi, F. 1921c. Quelques nouveaux Formicides africains. Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 61: 113-122 (doi:10.5281/ZENODO.14442) (page 119, Syllophopsis as genus)
  • Santschi, F. 1936a. Étude sur les fourmis du genre Monomorium Mayr. Bull. Soc. Sci. Nat. Maroc 16: 32-64 (page 32, Syllophopsis as genus)
  • Ward, P.S., Brady, S.G., Fisher, B.L. & Schultz, T.R. 2014. The evolution of myrmicine ants: phylogeny and biogeography of a hyperdiverse ant clade (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Systematic Entomology, DOI: 10.1111/syen.12090.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 676, Syllophopsis as subgenus of Monomoorium)