Tetramorium simillimum

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Tetramorium simillimum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Tetramorium
Species group: simillimum
Species: T. simillimum
Binomial name
Tetramorium simillimum
(Smith, F., 1851)

Tetramorium simillimum casent0005830 profile 1.jpg

Tetramorium simillimum casent0005830 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Common Name
Language: Japanese

A tramp species that is now pantropically distributed. It even occurs in some temperate areas, albeit in protected locations such as heated greenhouses.

At a Glance • Highly invasive  • Polygynous  


A member of the Tetramorium simillimum species group.

Very similar to Tetramorium caldarium, as detailed in the identification section of this other species.

Weakly sculptured, pale red much smaller than Tetramorium guineense. Length: 1.6-2 mm (Collingwood 1979).

Bolton (1977) - T. simillimum is a small, quite common pantropical tramp species of African origin which is also found as an introduction in hothouses and zoological gardens in the temperate zone. A number of related species are known from the Ethiopian region but none of these occurs outside Africa. The distinctive sculpture and short, stout pilosity will differentiate simillimum from other species in the Oriental and Indo-Australian regions.

Bolton (1980) - Within the group T. simillimum is closest to Tetramorium delagoense, Tetramorium bothae and Tetramorium rhetidum, sharing the characters of strongly developed scrobes and frontal carinae and dense ground-sculpture. Its separation from these species is discussed under their respective descriptions.

Tetramorium simillimum is not a particularly variable species but West African populations tend to have the head at the lower end of the width-range given above, giving them a relatively high CI. There is also a tendency in these forms to develop a gaster which is distinctly darker in colour than the head and alitrunk.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 29.966667° to -33.65°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Cameroun, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Socotra Archipelago, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen, Zambia, Zambia.
Australasian Region: Australia, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island.
Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Indonesia, Kiribati, Krakatau Islands, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), New Guinea, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna Islands.
Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Réunion, Seychelles.
Nearctic Region: Canada, United States.
Neotropical Region: Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Greater Antilles, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Mexico, Paraguay, Puerto Rico.
Oriental Region: Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand.
Palaearctic Region: China, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (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.


Regional Notes


The range for Tetramorium simillimum given by Brown and Taylor (1985) is probably understated. Unlike some other exotic myrmicines in Australia, this species does not seem to adversely affect the native ant fauna.


Wheeler (1905) - This tropicopolitan species is common in certain localities near settlements both on Andros and New Providence. At Nicholl's Town, on the eastern coast of the former island, I found it in and under rotting coconut boles that had been prostrated some years ago by a hurricane. These nests contained many males and winged females (May 14). On New Providence the species was common under stones in the Queen's Staircase in Nassau, in the Menendez Sisal Plantation near Stanley, and in the dwindling 'pine yards' near the Blue Hills.


Collingwood (1979) - This cosmopolitan species occasionally occurs in heated glasshouses in Europe and has been recorded from Denmark and also on several occasions in England.

Puerto Rico

Wheeler (1908) - In Culebra a few colonies were found nesting under stones and logs on the beach, in Coamo Springs several colonies were seen under stones in the creek bottom near the baths.

Florida USA

A common species found as far north as St. Johns County, Florida. Nests are usually in soil in open areas, often around buildings or parking lots. Pest status: none. First published Florida record: Wheeler 1932. (Deyrup, Davis & Cover, 2000.)

Socotra, Yemen

Sharaf et al. (2017) - Workers of this species were found foraging on the soil under thrown, dry, date palm fronds. Several workers were found foraging on the ground under grasses.

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is a host for the cestode Raillietina echinobothrida (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode secondary; indirect transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a host for the cestode Raillietina tetragona (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode secondary; indirect transmission; transmission outside nest).

Life History Traits

  • Queen number: polygynous (Frumhoff & Ward, 1992)



Images from AntWeb

Tetramorium simillimum casent0102390 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102390 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102390 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102390 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0102390. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMUK, London, UK.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0102937 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102937 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102937 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102937 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0102937. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by OUM, Oxford, UK.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0135001 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0135001 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0135001 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0135001 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0135001. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0173318 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0173318 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0173318 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0173318 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0173318. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0101495 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0101495 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0101495 profile 2.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0101495 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0101495 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0101495. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MNHN, Paris, France.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0173291 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0173291 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0173291 dorsal 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0173291. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CDRS, Galapagos, Ecuador.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0102742 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102742 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102742 dorsal 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0102742. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ABS, Lake Placid, FL, USA.


Images from AntWeb

Tetramorium simillimum casent0135019 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0135019 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0135019 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0135019 label 1.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0135019. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0146901 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0146901 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0146901 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0146901 label 1.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0146901. Photographer Erin Prado, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0173290 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0173290 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0173290 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0173290 label 1.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0173290. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CDRS, Galapagos, Ecuador.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0125195 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0125195 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0125195 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0125195 label 1.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0125195. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0102741 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102741 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102741 profile 2.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102741 dorsal 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0102741 label 1.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0102741. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ABS, Lake Placid, FL, USA.
Tetramorium simillimum casent0060701 head 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0060701 profile 1.jpgTetramorium simillimum casent0060701 dorsal 1.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0060701. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.


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

  • simillimum. Myrmica simillima Smith, F. 1851: 118 (w.) GREAT BRITAIN. Meinert, 1861: 331 (gynandromorph); André, 1883a: 289 (q.m.); Imai, Baroni Urbani, et al. 1984: 8 (k.). Combination in Tetramorium: Mayr, 1861: 61. Senior synonym of pygmaeum: Forel, 1916: 421; of brevispinosa: Borgmeier, 1937b: 241; of insulare: Yarrow, 1967: 28; of denticulatum, opacior, parallela: Bolton, 1977: 131; of bantouana, exoleta and material of the unavailable name breve referred here: Bolton, 1980: 320. See also: Emery, 1909d: 696.
  • parallela. Myrmica parallela Smith, F. 1859a: 147 (w.) INDONESIA (Aru I.). Combination in Tetramorium: Donisthorpe, 1932c: 455. Junior synonym of simillimum: Bolton, 1977: 131.
  • pygmaeum. Tetramorium pygmaeum Emery, 1877b: 371 (q.) ETHIOPIA. Emery, 1901e: 62 (m.); Emery, 1915g: 17 (w.). Junior synonym of simillimum: Forel, 1916: 421.
  • denticulatum. Tetramorium simillimum r. denticulatum Forel, 1902c: 235 (w.) INDIA. Junior synonym of simillimum: Bolton, 1977: 131.
  • bantouana. Tetramorium pusillum var. bantouana Santschi, 1910c: 382, fig. 10 (w.q.m.) CONGO. Junior synonym of simillimum: Bolton, 1980: 320.
  • opacior. Tetramorium simillimum var. opacior Forel, 1913k: 81 (w.) SRI LANKA. Junior synonym of simillimum: Bolton, 1977: 131.
  • exoleta. Tetramorium pusillum var. exoleta Santschi, 1914d: 366 (w.) NIGERIA. Junior synonym of simillimum: Bolton, 1980: 320.
  • brevispinosa. Wasmannia auropunctata subsp. brevispinosa Borgmeier, 1928a: 36, figs. 4, 5 (w.) BRAZIL. [Unresolved junior secondary homonym of brevispinosus Stitz, above.] Junior synonym of simillimum: Borgmeier, 1937b: 241.
  • insulare. Tetramorium simillimum var. insulare Santschi, 1928c: 69 (w.) FIJI IS. [Unresolved junior secondary homonym of insularis Menozzi, above.] Junior synonym of simillimum: Yarrow, 1967: 28; Bolton, 1977: 131.

Type Material

Bolton (1977) - Syntype workers, Great Britain: England, Dorset (types lost, presumed destroyed). although the types of this species have almost certainly been lost or destroyed at some time in the past (they are not in Smith's material at The Natural History Museum, nor are they at UM, Oxford), the identity of the species does not appear to have ever been in doubt. It is this traditional interpretation which I take as my basis for defining simillimum, and as the species is very widespread and quite well known I can see no obvious reason for designating a neotype.

  • Myrmica simillima: Syntype, worker(s) (apparently lost), Dorset, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Myrmica parallela

Holotype worker in Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Specimen without locality label, but with a label “simillima” in Smith’s writing. Type-locality “Aru” according to original description. Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.

Wetterer and Hita Garcia (2015) - The species Tetramorium caldarium was described by Roger (1857) from Poland, with the specimens collected from a greenhouse growing pineapples. This species was promptly (Roger 1862) synonymized under T. simillimum, where it remained until 1979 when Bolton revived its status as a valid species. Museum specimens of T. simillimum that do not have contemporary identifications should be examined to be sure they are not T. caldarium (see the identification section of this other species for diagnostic characters).



(length3/4 - 1 line). Head and thorax pale ferruginous, the legs and antennae more pallid, the coxae a little coloured, the eyes black; the abdomen is rufo-fuscous, pale towards the apex; the head is evenly longitudinally striate; the thorax above is without the usual transverse suture, but is a little compressed at the sides about the middle, and gradually slightly narrowed from the prothorax towards the nodes of the peduncle; the metathorax is truncate at the apex, and the spines are short, broad, and acute; the abdomen is furnished with a few scattered erect hairs.

Bolton (1977) - TL 2.1-2.5, HL 0.54-0.60, HW 0.48-0.54, CI 88-93, SL 0.36-0.42, SI 74-80, PW 0.34-0.40, AL 0.58-0.68 (45 measured).

Mandibles finely and usually weakly sculptured, appearing usually as feeble striation or weak shagreening but sometimes more or less dully shining with only superficial sculpture. Anterior clypeal margin entire. Frontal carinae distinct, extending back almost to the occiput and very shallowly, evenly convex along their length. Antennal scrobes broad and quite shallow, but distinct. Eyes moderate in size, maximum diameter c. 0.11-0.14, about 0.22-0.26 x HW. Occipital margin in full-face view broadly and shallowly concave, the sides of the head behind the eyes sometimes roughly parallel but usually weakly convex; occipital corners evenly rounded. Propodeum armed with a pair of short, triangular acute teeth which are usually shorter than the metapleural lobes, rarely very slightly longer. Metapleural lobes broad, roughly triangular in shape. Petiole in profile with a stout anterior peduncle, the outline shape of the node as shown in figure, but in some populations the node tending to narrow very slightly from base to apex. In dorsal view the node always slightly broader than long, somewhat variable in shape but always broadened posteriorly before narrowing to the postpetiolar junction. Dorsum of head finely and quite densely longitudinally rugulose, the spaces between the rugulae filled with a fine, dense conspicuous reticulate-punctulation or granulation. Area of antennal scrobes densely and finely reticulate-punctulate. Dorsal alitrunk finely, often faintly longitudinally rugulose, with traces of reticulation on pronotum, the spaces between the rugulae densely punctulate. Dorsal petiole and postpetiole similarly but less strongly sculptured, the sculpture sometimes reduced but never completely absent, always with traces of punctulation and nearly always with traces of faint rugulation. Sides of alitrunk densely and conspicuously reticulate-punctate. Gaster unsculptured. All dorsal surfaces of head and body with scattered short hairs, generally longer on the gaster than elsewhere. Hairs on ali trunk conspicuous, short, stout and blunt. Antennal scapes and dorsal (outer) surfaces of hind tibiae only with very short, fine, appressed pubescence. Colour yellow to yellowish brown, usually with the gaster darker brown but some populations uniformly coloured.


  • 2n = 14 (India) (Imai et al., 1984).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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  • Bolton, B. "The ant tribe Tetramoriini (Hymenoptera: Formicinae. The genus Tetramorium Mayr in the Oriental and Indo-Australian regions and in Australia." Bulletin of the British Museum (National History): Entomology series 36, no. 2 (1977): 68-151.
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