Vollenhovia emeryi

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Vollenhovia emeryi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Vollenhovia
Species: V. emeryi
Binomial name
Vollenhovia emeryi
Wheeler, W.M., 1906

Vollenhovia emeryi casent0003196 profile 1.jpg

Vollenhovia emeryi casent0003196 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


In Japan, V. emeryi occurs in secondary forests throughout the country. This ant can produce clonal, non-dispersing queens and dispersing long-winged, heterozygous queens.

At a Glance • Polygynous  • Brachypterous Queen  


Photo Gallery

  • Vollenhovia emeryi colonies contain many laying queens. This photograph shows two, with workers and pupae. Washington, DC, USA. Photo by Alex Wild.
  • Vollenhovia-emeryi 1833.jpg


Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States.
Oriental Region: Taiwan, Thailand.
Palaearctic Region: China, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Japan (type locality), Republic of Korea.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Miyakawa et al. (2018) studied the details of genetic control of sex deterimination in this species. They concluded the doublesex (dsx) gene appears to integrate signal from a multi-locus complementary sex determination system to control if females or males develop from an egg.

This species is a host for the ant Vollenhovia nipponica (a workerless inquiline) in Japan (Kinomura, 1992).


This species has two modes of reproduction. Clonally produced, homozygous queens have short malformed wings. Long-winged dispersing queens, with heterozygous genomes and so not produced clonally, can be produced facultatively. Queens eclose before fall hibernation. Clonal queens mate in their natal nest before hibernation. In the spring new colonies can be formed by budding. Laboratory colonies collected from field sites in Japan and provided with more food than a second set of colonies produced long-winged queens, non-dispersing queens and more queens overall. The colonies that were fed half as much food only produced clonal short-winged queens. Laboratory produced long-winged queens were not inseminated after eclosing while the short-winged queens were all found to be inseminated. Presumably the long-winged queens mate after hibernation in the spring (Okomoto et al. 2015, Ohkawara et al. 2002).


The genome of V. emeryi was sequenced for a study examining how parasitic ants with no worker caste may have altered their genome to arrive at a workerless state. In comparison to ants with a full complement of castes, there appeared to be no loss of genes in the parasitic ants. This suggests regulatory differences and not sequence differences predominate in gains and losses of castes (phenotypes). (Smith et al. 2015)


Both winged and brachypterous queens are known (Ohkawara et al. 2006)




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

  • emeryi. Vollenhovia emeryi Wheeler, W.M. 1906c: 312, pl. 41, figs. 10, 11 (w.q.) JAPAN. Wheeler, W.M. 1928d: 112 (m.); Imai, 1966: 119 (k.). Senior synonym of chosenica: Radchenko, 2005b: 154.
  • chosenica. Vollenhovia emeryi subsp. chosenica Wheeler, W.M. 1928d: 113 (w.) KOREA. Junior synonym of emeryi: Radchenko, 2005b: 154.



  • n = 18, 2n = 36 (Japan) (Imai & Yosida, 1964; Imai, 1966; Imai, 1969).


  • Imai, H. T. 1966b. The chromosome observation techniques of ants and the chromosomes of Formicinae and Myrmicinae. Acta Hymenopterol. 2: 119-131 (page 119, karyotype described)
  • Kinomura, K., Yamauchi. K. 1994. Frequent occurrence of gynandromorphs in the natural populations of the ant Vollenhovia emeryi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Sociaux 41: 273-278.
  • Kobayashi K., Tamura K., Okamoto M., Hasegawa E. and Ohkawara K. 2012. Phylogenetic relationships among populations of Vollenhovia ants, with particular focus on the evolution of wing morphology. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 105: 454–461.
  • Kubota, M. 1984. Anomalous female wings in Vollenhovia emeryi Wheeler. Ari 12: 2-3.
  • Miyakawa, M. O., K. Tsuchida, and H. Miyakawa. 2018. The doublesex gene integrates multi-locus complementary sex determination signals in the Japanese ant, Vollenhovia emeryi. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 94:42-49. doi:10.1016/j.ibmb.2018.01.006
  • Okamoto, M., K. Kobayashi, E. Hasegawa, and K. Ohkawara. 2015. Sexual and asexual reproduction of queens in a myrmicine ant, Vollenhovia emeryi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News. 21:13-17.
  • Smith, C. R., S. H. Cahan, C. Kemena, S. G. Brady, W. Yang, E. Bornberg-Bauer, T. Eriksson, J. Gadau, M. Helmkampf, D. Gotzek, M. O. Miyakawa, A. V. Suarez, and A. Mikheyev. 2015. How Do Genomes Create Novel Phenotypes? Insights from the Loss of the Worker Caste in Ant Social Parasites. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 32:2919-2931. doi:10.1093/molbev/msv165
  • Wetterer, J.K., Guénard, B., Booher, D.B. 2015. Geographic spread of Vollenhovia emeryi (Hymenoptera Formicidae). Asian Myrmecology 7105-112.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1906h. The ants of Japan. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 22: 301-328 (page 312, pl. 41, figs. 10, 11 worker, queen described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1928d. Ants collected by Professor F. Silvestri in Japan and Korea. Boll. Lab. Zool. Gen. Agrar. R. Sc. Super. Agric. 22: 96-125 (page 112, male described)