Temnothorax nylanderi

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Temnothorax nylanderi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Temnothorax
Species group: nylanderi
Species complex: nylanderi
Species: T. nylanderi
Binomial name
Temnothorax nylanderi
(Foerster, 1850)

Temnothorax nylanderi casent0178771 profile 1.jpg

Temnothorax nylanderi casent0178771 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Collingwood (1979) - It is normally a woodland bark-inhabiting species but occasionally nests under stones or inside acorns. Its morphology and biology in France where it is common, has been intensively studied by Plateaux (1970). The species is normally monogynous with between 100 and 200 workers. Is is somewhat more aggressive than Leptothorax acervorum and despite its small size will attack and sting freely. Alate queens and males are developed during July and flights occur during early August.

At a Glance • Tandem running  


Photo Gallery

  • Temnothorax nylanderi workers, alates and pupae. Brittany, France. Photo by Matt Hamer.


Csösz et al. (2015) - A member of the nylanderi species-complex. Temnothorax nylanderi has moderately long spines (SPST/CS) and therefore cannot be confused with long-spined Temnothorax lichtensteini. Non-overlapping SPBA/CS ratios help to distinguish it from T. flavicornis. Based on salient features, T. nylanderi might be misidentified as Temnothorax parvulus, but a simple ratio (SPTI/CS) reliably separate these species on the level of nest sample means. Temnothorax nylanderi can also be safely separated from weakly sculptured, lightly colored Temnothorax tergestinus using the ratios PoOC/CL and SPWI/CS.

Collingwood (1979) - Yellow to pale yellowish brown, the head sometimes darker, broadly infuscate on the first gaster segment. Antennae including clubs and legs concolorous with the rest of the body. Head longitudinally striate. Mesosoma finely rugose, gaster smooth. Legs without erect hairs. Antennae twelve segmented; mesopropodeal impression distinct and clearly visible in side view. Length: 2.3-3.4 mm. This species is immediately distinguishable from all other North European Leptothorax with twelve segmented antennae in the worker caste by the distinct mesopropodeal suture seen as a clear depression in the dorsal profile.

Keys including this Species


Central and South Europe from Spain to Caucasus, north to South Sweden (Collingwood 1979).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany (type locality), Iberian Peninsula, Jersey, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


This species is a host for the ant Temnothorax gordiagini (a slave maker) (Buschinger et al., 1983) (T. nylanderi as the host of Temnothorax gordiagini had been suggested by Soudek, 1925, (cited in Buschinger et al., 1983) though this has never been confirmed and was probably a misidentification).


Glaser and Grüter 2018. Figure 1. a. A tandem run of two Temnothorax nylanderi workers (photo by C. Grüter). b. Marked workers collecting 1 M sucrose solution (photo by S. Glaser).

Glaser and Grüter (2018) studied how well individuals performed tandem running, including hypothesizing that longer distances would be more problematic in terms of foraging efficiency and success. They found that experience was an important element of successful tandem running. Foragers were more likely to initiate and sustain a tandem run than less experienced workers. Foraging distance was not unduly problematic but pairs progressed faster, and followers searched longer for their partner after a loss of contact when visiting more distant food sources.


This species is a host for the fungus Myrmicinosporidium durum (a pathogen) (Espadaler & Santamaria, 2012).

Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: 280 (Beckers et al., 1989)
  • Foraging behaviour: tandem recruitment (Beckers et al., 1989)


A feature of T. nylanderi is the study of rare morphological anomalies that are intermediate between the queen and worker phenotypes (Plateaux 1970). A large number of such "intercastes" were investigated with multivariate morphometry (Okada et al. 2013), showing how caste-specific modules (i.e. specific to workers and winged queens) are shuffled to give a mosaic phenotype (intercastes).

Intercastes collected from many colonies of T. nylanderi (worker and winged queen at extremities; not to scale). From Plateaux (1970)
Worker, two intercastes and winged queen of T. nylanderi. Photograph by Yasukazu Okada
Winged queens of T. nylanderi showing variability in the size of prothorax. Photograph by Yasukazu Okada




The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • nylanderi. Myrmica nylanderi Foerster, 1850a: 53 (m.) GERMANY.
    • Mayr, 1855: 447 (w.q.).
    • Combination in Leptothorax: Mayr, 1855: 447.
    • Combination in Temnothorax: Bolton, 2003: 271.
    • Subspecies of tuberum: Forel, 1874: 84 (in key); Emery & Forel, 1879: 459; André, 1883a: 300; Emery, 1884a: 379; Forel, 1890a: lxxv; Emery, 1891b: 6; Forel, 1892i: 314; Dalla Torre, 1893: 125; Ruzsky, 1905b: 597; Bondroit, 1910: 496.
    • Status as species: Mayr, 1855: 447; Mayr, 1861: 59 (in key); Roger, 1863b: 26; Mayr, 1863: 427; André, 1874: 190 (in key); Emery, 1878b: 50; Saunders, E. 1880: 219; Nasonov, 1889: 32; Ruzsky, 1902d: 23; Bondroit, 1911: 12; Stitz, 1914: 64; Forel, 1915d: 22 (in key); Donisthorpe, 1915d: 155; Bondroit, 1918: 122; Menozzi, 1922b: 329; Müller, 1923b: 94; Emery, 1924d: 255; Karavaiev, 1926f: 69; Donisthorpe, 1927b: 173; Karavaiev, 1927a: 292; Karavaiev, 1927c: 266 (in key); Finzi, 1930d: 315; Karavaiev, 1934: 137 (redescription); Stitz, 1939: 179; Novák & Sadil, 1941: 90 (in key); van Boven, 1947: 178; Bernard, 1956a: 164; Bernard, 1967: 214 (redescription); Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 118; Baroni Urbani, 1974: 234; van Boven, 1977: 102; Kutter, 1977c: 133; Arnol'di & Dlussky, 1978: 541 (in key); Collingwood, 1978: 84 (in key); Collingwood, 1979: 74; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b: 274 (in key); Casevitz-Weulersse, 1990c: 418 (in key); Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 139; Arakelian, 1994: 56; Radchenko, 1994d: 153 (in key); Bolton, 1995b: 242; Radchenko, 1995d: 3; Seifert, 1995: 4; Collingwood & Prince, 1998: 16 (in key); Radchenko, 2000: 43; Czechowski, et al. 2002: 48; Seifert, 2007: 237; Boer, 2010: 52; Czechowski, et al. 2012: 146; Csösz, Heinze & Mikó, 2015: 40 (redescription).
    • Senior synonym of cingulata: Mayr, 1855: 447; Nylander, 1856b: 93.
    • Senior synonym of nylanderocorticalis: Kutter, 1977c: 14.
    • Senior synonym of nylanderotuberum: Radchenko, 1995d: 3.
    • Current subspecies: nominal plus nylanderonigriceps.
  • cingulata. Myrmica cingulata Schenck, 1852: 104 (w.q.m.) GERMANY. [Also described as new by Schenck, 1853: 188.] Junior synonym of nylanderi: Mayr, 1855: 447.
  • nylanderocorticalis. Leptothorax tuberum var. nylanderocorticalis Forel, 1874: 86 (w.) SWITZERLAND. Emery, 1916b: 183, 186 (in keys) (w.q., respectively). Raised to species: Bondroit, 1918: 124. Subspecies of corticalis: Forel, 1915d: 22 (in key); Emery, 1924d: 254; Stitz, 1939: 176; Novak & Sadil, 1941: 92. Junior synonym of nylanderi: Kutter, 1977c: 14.
  • nylanderotuberum. Leptothorax nylanderi var. nylanderotuberum Ruzsky, 1902d: 23 (w.) RUSSIA. Junior synonym of nylanderi: Radchenko, 1995d: 3.

Type Material

Csösz et al. (2015) - Type material is not available and most probably lost. Altogether 6 workers belonging to two nest series from the type locality “Aachen” were investigated: Germany, vic. Aachen-Brand, 5km SE Aachen, 50.7506 N, 6.1202 E, 200 mH, 21.06.1999. leg. A. Schulz, (3 ##, Hungarian Natural History Museum), [GER:Aachen-5SE-19990621-1]; and (3 ##, HNHM), [GER:Aachen-5SE-19990621-2] with the same label data. Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Csösz et al. (2015) - Body color: brown; yellow. Body color pattern: mesosoma, antenna and legs, waist and anterior region of 1st gastral tergite lighter than head dorsum and posterior region of gaster. Antenna color pattern: clava concolorous funicle. Absolute cephalic size: 587–678 μm (mean = 625, n = 20). Cephalic length vs. Maximum width of head capsule (CL/CWb): 1.121–1.160 (mean = 1.140). Postocular distance vs. cephalic length (PoOc/CL): 0.379–0.402 (mean = 0.391). Postocular sides of cranium contour frontal view orientation: converging posteriorly. Postocular sides of cranium contour frontal view shape: strongly convex. Vertex contour line in frontal view shape: straight. Vertex sculpture: main sculpture parallel costate, ground sculpture areolate; main sculpture absent, ground sculpture areolate. Genae contour from anterior view orientation: converging. Gena contour line in frontal view shape: convex. Gena sculpture: rugoso-reticulate with areolate ground sculpture. Median region of antennal rim vs. frontal carina in frontal view structure: not fully overlapped by frontal carina. Concentric carinae laterally surrounding antennal foramen count: present. Eye length vs. absolute cephalic size (EL/CS): 0.245–0.268 (mean = 0.254). Frontal carina distance vs. absolute cephalic size (FRS/CS): 0.354–0.383 (mean = 0.373). Longitudinal carinae on median region of frons count: present. Longitudinal carinae on medial region of frons shape: not forked. Smooth median region on frons count: absent. Antennomere count: 12. Scape length vs. absolute cephalic size (SL/CS): 0.757–0.798 (mean = 0.777). Facial area of the scape absolute setal angle: 0–15°. External area of the scape absolute setal angle: 30°. Ground sculpture of submedian area of clypeus: smooth. Median carina of clypeus count: present. Lateral carinae of clypeus count: present. Median anatomical line of propodeal spine angle value to Weber length in lateral view: 35–42°. Spine length vs. absolute cephalic size (SPST/CS): 0.265–0.297 (mean = 0.280). Minimum spine distance vs. absolute cephalic size (SPBA/CS): 0.263–0.294 (mean = 0.280). Maximum spine distance vs. absolute cephalic size (SPWI/CS): 0.321–0.362 (mean = 0.343). Apical spine distance vs. absolute cephalic size (SPTI/CS): 0.298–0.339 (mean = 0.320). Maximum mesosoma width vs. absolute cephalic size (MW/CS): 0.610–0.646 (mean = 0.624). Metanotal depression count: present. Metanotal depression shape: shallow. Dorsal region of mesosoma sculpture: rugulose with areolate ground sculpture. Lateral region of pronotum sculpture: areolate ground sculpture, main sculpture forked costate. Mesopleuron sculpture: areolate ground sculpture superimposed by dispersed rugulae. Metapleuron sculpture: areolate ground sculpture superimposed by dispersed rugulae. Frontal profile of petiolar node contour line in lateral view shape: concave. Dorsal profile of petiolar node contour line angle value to frontal profile of petiole contour line in lateral view: 100–115°. Anterodorsal rim of petiole count: absent medially. Dorsal profile of petiolar node contour line in lateral view shape: slightly convex. Dorsal region of petiole sculpture: ground sculpture areolate, main sculpture dispersed rugose; ground sculpture areolate, main sculpture absent. Dorso-caudal petiolar profile contour line in lateral view shape: straight; concave. Dorsal region of postpetiole sculpture: ground sculpture areolate, main sculpture dispersed rugose; ground sculpture areolate, main sculpture absent.


  • n = 11 (Croatia, France, Germany) (Fischer, 1987) (as Leptothorax nylanderi).
  • n = 11, 2n = 22 (Switzerland) (Hauschteck-Jungen & Jungen, 1983) (as Leptothorax nylanderi).


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  • Atanassov, N.; Dlussky, G. M. 1992. Fauna of Bulgaria. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Fauna Bûlg. 22: 1-310 (page 139, Status as species)
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  • Glaser, S. M. and C. Gruter. 2018. Ants (Temnothorax nylanderi) adjust tandem running when food source distance exposes them to greater risks. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 72:8. doi:10.1007/s00265-018-2453-2
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