Cataglyphis bombycina

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Revision as of 22:15, 25 February 2022 by SShattuck (talk | contribs) (Add Countries Occupied and Estimated Abundance templates)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cataglyphis bombycina
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Cataglyphis
Species: C. bombycina
Binomial name
Cataglyphis bombycina
(Roger, 1859)

Cataglyphis bombycinus casent0102114 profile 1.jpg

Cataglyphis bombycinus casent0102114 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


The ‘‘silver ant’’ of the Sahara, the Sinai and the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, this species has a polymorphic caste of workers and a monomorphic soldier caste.


Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 36.802778° to 21.568056°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Mali, Saudi Arabia.
Palaearctic Region: Algeria, Israel, Libya (type locality), Tunisia.

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.



Behaviour of workers around nest entrances, and exit of a soldier. Filmed in Djerba, Tunisia by Philipp Hönle

Leniaud et al. (2015) - The silver ant is common in the sand dunes of North Africa. This species has a polymorphic caste of workers and a monomorphic soldier caste. Colonies are large, with a widespread network of galleries, and queens and soldiers are usually located in the deeper parts of the nest. In mature colonies, soldiers represent only 1–2 % of the work force (S.Aron, pers. obs.). C. bombycina colonies are headed by a single queen that is mated with several males (Leniaud et al. 2013). The 2015 study examined the potential influence of genetics on caste determination. Reconstructing paternal genotypes from worker pedigree, they found that queens in the study population (Merzouga) had mated with 6–14 males. This is almost twice as high as the 5.7 males previously reported in the population of Amerzgane (Leniaud et al. 2013).

The contribution of each father in offspring production varied in all colonies, with some patrilines contributing up to 10 times more to worker and soldier progeny than other patrilines. In 2 of 7 colonies examined, the propensity to develop into the worker or soldier caste varied significantly between patrilines. Across all colonies, most patrilines produced both workers and soldiers. Collectively the results suggested a moderate genotypic influence to soldier caste determination in the silver ant. Environmental influences, especially trophic factors are believed to remain as the major determinant of caste determination.

In Merzouga, the ants live in the extremely dry sand dunes of Saharan desert. Colonies extend several meters deep and are exceptionally populous for the genus. In contrast, Amerzgane is a rugged area along the Atlas Mountains foothills; it receives more rainfall, nourishing wadis and valleys. The population occupies an old wadi facing south, and colonies are much smaller than in Merzouga.


C. bombycina dealate queen, minor worker and soldier. From Mauritania. Photo by Patrick Landmann.

Unlike most other species in this genus, C. bombycina has large soldiers characterized by saber-shaped mandibles occurring together with winged queens and size-polymorphic workers. Molet et al. (2014) used morphometrics to show that the soldier caste exhibits a mosaic phenotype, i.e. combining queen and worker traits. Soldiers appear to function both for defense (specialized mandibles) and food storage (big abdomen).

Ovaries of a soldier of C. bombycina, showing 10 ovarioles and presumed trophic eggs. The empty spermatheca can be seen lower right. Photo by Christian Peeters.


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

  • bombycina. Formica bombycina Roger, 1859: 232, pl. 7, fig. 1 (s.w.q.m.) LIBYA, EGYPT, SUDAN (“Tripolis, Aegypten, Nubien und am rothen Meer”).
    • [Misspelled as bombicinus by Menozzi, 1934: 157.]
    • Athias-Henriot, 1947: 249 (l.).
    • Combination in Cataglyphis: Mayr, 1862: 701; Emery, 1912f: 98;
    • combination in Myrmecocystus: Emery, 1891b: 17;
    • combination in Myrmecocystus (Cataglyphis): Santschi, 1910f: 234;
    • combination in Cataglyphis (Machaeromyrma): Forel, 1916: 441; Emery, 1925b: 267.
    • Status as species: Mayr, 1862: 701; Mayr, 1863: 402; Roger, 1863b: 12; Mayr, 1877: 20 (in list); Emery, 1878b: 48; André, 1882b: 168 (in key); Emery, 1884a: 377; Forel, 1886f: 205; Emery, 1891b: 17; Dalla Torre, 1893: 216; Forel, 1895d: 232; Forel, 1902a: 156; Forel, 1903b: 453; Mayr, 1904b: 11; Emery, 1906d: 59; Forel, 1909e: 387; Santschi, 1910f: 234; Karavaiev, 1912a: 17; Wheeler, W.M. & Mann, 1916: 173; Stitz, 1917: 349; Viehmeyer, 1923: 93; Emery, 1925b: 267; Menozzi, 1927g: 381; Santschi, 1929b: 30; Santschi, 1929c: 106; Santschi, 1929g 166; Santschi, 1932f: 518; Menozzi, 1932c: 95; Menozzi, 1932e: 454; Menozzi, 1934: 157; Santschi, 1934b: 34; Santschi, 1934f: 175; Finzi, 1936: 193; Santschi, 1936e: 82; Santschi, 1938a: 43; Menozzi, 1940: 271; Finzi, 1940: 165; Donisthorpe, 1942a: 33; Athias-Henriot, 1947: 249; Donisthorpe, 1947e: 111; Bernard, 1948: 164; Bernard, 1953a: 206; Délye, 1960: 261; Cagniant, 1964: 93; Hamann & Klemm, 1967: 419; Kugler, J. 1981: 87 (in key); Kugler, J. 1988: 259; Agosti, 1990b: 1484; Bolton, 1995b: 134; Radchenko, 1997c: 435; Radchenko, 1998: 502 (in key); Cagniant, 2006a: 194; Cagniant, 2009: 48; Vonshak, et al. 2009: 39; Legakis, 2011: 34; Borowiec, L. 2014: 53 (see note in bibliogrpahy).
    • Senior synonym of lameerei: Cagniant, 2006a: 194 (by implication).
    • Senior synonym of lucasi: Cagniant, 2006a: 194.
    • Senior synonym of phaeogaster: Dalla Torre, 1893: 217; Emery, 1925b: 267; Agosti, 1990b: 1484; Bolton, 1995b: 134.
    • Current subspecies: nominal plus bruneipes, sinaitica.
  • lameerei. Myrmecocystus lameerei Forel, 1902a: 156 (w.q.) ALGERIA.
    • Junior synonym of lucasi: Emery, in Forel, 1902g: 463; Emery, 1925b: 266; Santschi, 1929b: 54; Bernard, 1953a: 202; Agosti, 1990b: 1485; Bolton, 1995b: 136.
    • Junior synonym of bombycina: Cagniant, 2006a: 194 (by implication).
  • lucasi. Myrmecocystus lucasi Emery, 1898c: 147 (w.) TUNISIA.
    • Bernard, 1953a: 203 (m.).
    • Combination in Cataglyphis: Emery, 1912f: 104;
    • combination in C. (Machaeromyrma): Santschi, 1929b: 30.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1906d: 60; Emery, 1925b: 266; Santschi, 1929b: 60 (in key); Bernard, 1948: 164; Bernard, 1953a: 202; Agosti, 1990b: 1485; Bolton, 1995b: 136; Borowiec, L. 2014: 57 (error).
    • Junior synonym of bombycina: Cagniant, 2006a: 194.
  • phaeogaster. Camponotus phaeogaster Walker, 1871: 10 (w.) “ARABIA (Wady Ferran)”.
    • Junior synonym of bombycina: Dalla Torre, 1893: 217; Emery, 1925b: 267; Agosti, 1990b: 1484; Bolton, 1995b: 136.



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Agosti D. 1990. Review and reclassification of Cataglyphis (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Journal of Natural History 24: 1457-1505.
  • Agosti, D. 1990. Review and reclassification of Cataglyphis (Hymentopera: Formicidae) . Journal of Natural History 24:1457-1505.
  • Barech G., M. Khaldi, S. Ziane, A. Zedam, S. Doumadji, M. Sharaf, and X. Espadaler. 2016. A first checklist and diversity of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the saline dry lake Chott El Hodna in Algeria, a Ramsar Conservation Wetland. African Entomology 24(1): 143–152.
  • Bernard F. 1953. Les fourmis du Tassili des Ajjer. Pp. 121-250 in: Bernard, F. (ed.) 1953. Mission scientifique au Tassili des Ajjer (1949). Volume I. Recherches zoologiques et médicales. Paris: P. Lechevalier, 302 pp.
  • Bernard, F.. "Les insectes sociaux du Fezzân. Comportement et biogéographie." En: Bernard, F., Peyerimhoff, P. de Mission sc (1948): 87-200.
  • Borowiec L. 2014. Catalogue of ants of Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and adjacent regions (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Genus (Wroclaw) 25(1-2): 1-340.
  • Cagniant H. 2009. Le genre Cataglyphis Foerster, 1850 au Maroc (Hyménoptères Formicidae). Orsis 24: 41-71.
  • Cagniant, H.. "Liste actualisee des fourmis du Maroc (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)." Myrmecologische Nachrichten 8 (2006): 193-200.
  • Cagniant, H.. "Étude de quelques fourmis marocaines. Statistique provisoire des Formicidae du Maroc." Bulletin de la Société d' Histoire naturelle de l' Afrique du Nord 53 (1964): 83-118.
  • Chemala A., M. Benhamacha, D. M. Ould el Hadj, F. Marniche, and S. Daoudi. 2017. A preliminary list of the ant fauna in Northeastern Sahara of Algeria (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 64(2): 146-154.
  • Delye, G., and J. L. Bonaric. "Fourmis du sud Marocain." Etude de certains milieux du Maroc et de leux evolution recente RCP 249 (1973).
  • Donisthorpe H. 1942. The Formicidae (Hym.) of the Armstrong College Expedition to the Siwa Oasis. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (11)9: 26-33.
  • Donisthorpe H. 1947. Results of the Armstrong College Expedition to Siwa Oasis (Libyan Desert), 1935: A second list of the Formicidae (Hymenoptera). Bulletin de la Société Fouad Ier d'Entomologie 31: 109-111.
  • Délye G. 1960. Fourmis du Tassili des Ajjer. Bulletin de la Société d'Histoire Naturelle de l'Afrique du Nord 51: 259-272.
  • Délye G. 1964. Sur le peuplement myrmécologique de quelques ergs du Sahara nord-occidental. Travaux de l'Institut de Recherches Sahariennes 23: 165-170.
  • Délye, G., and J. C. Bonaric. "Les fourmis arenicoles du sud marocain (Hym. formicidae)." Bulletin de la Société Entomologique de France 3 (1973): 107-110.
  • Délye, G.. "Répartition des fourmis dans les grands massifs de dunes du Sahara nord-occidental (Hym.)." Bulletin de la Société Entomologique de France 74 (1970): 224-227.
  • Emery, C.. "Exploration scientifique de la Tunisie. Zoologie. - Hyménoptères. Révision critique des fourmis de la Tunisie." Explor. Scient. De la Tunisie Zoll. Hym. (Folleto) Paris. Imp (1891): iii + 21 pp.
  • Finzi, B.. "Risultati scientifici della spedizione di S. A. S. il Principe Alessandro della Torre e Tasso nell'Egitto e peninsola del Sinai. XI. Formiche." Bulletin de la Société Entomologique d'Egypte 20 (1936): 155-210.
  • Forel A. 1886. Études myrmécologiques en 1886.. Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique. 30: 131-215.
  • Forel A. 1909. Études myrmécologiques en 1909. Fourmis de Barbarie et de Ceylan. Nidification des Polyrhachis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 45: 369-407.
  • Forel, A.. "Die Sitten und Nester einiger Ameisen der Sahara bei Tugurt und Biskra." Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gessellschaft or Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique Suisse 10 (1903): 453-459.
  • Forel, A.. "Les fourmis du Sahara algérien récoltées par M. le Professeur A. Lameere et le Dr. A. Diehl." Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 46 (1902): 147-158.
  • Guehef Z. H., Y.Kherbouche, L. Ababsa, L. Eddoud, O. Guezoul, and M. Sekour. 2018. Comparison of myrmicofaune in two agricultural environments in the region of Oued Souf. Revue des BioRessources 8(1): 53-60.
  • Hamann H. H. F., and W. Klemm W. 1967. Ergebnisse der zoologischen Nubien-Expedition 1962. Teil XXXIV. Hymenoptera - Formicidae. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien 70: 411-421.
  • IZIKO South Africa Museum Collection
  • Kugler J. 1988. The zoogeography of Israel. 9. The zoogeography of social insects of Israel and Sinai. Monographiae biologicae 62: 251-275.
  • Menozzi C. 1927. Risultati zoologici della Missione inviata dalla R. Società Geografica Italiana per l'esplorazione dell'Oasi di Giarabub (1926-1927). Formicidae (Hymenoptera).. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Giacomo Doria. 52: 379-382.
  • Menozzi C. 1932. Missione scientifica del Prof. E. Zavattari nel Fezzan (1931). Hymenoptera-Formicidae.. Bollettino della Società Entomologica Italiana. 64: 93-95.
  • Menozzi C. 1932. Spedizione scientifica all'Oasi di Cufra (marzo-luglio 1931). Formiche.. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Giacomo Doria. 55: 451-456.
  • Menozzi C. 1934. Reperti mirmecofaunistici raccolti dal Prof. L di Caporiacco nelle oasi di Cufra e in altre localita del deserto Libico. Atti della Societa dei Naturalisti e Matematici di Modena (6)13(65): 153-166
  • Radchenko A. G. 1998. A key to ants of the genus Cataglyphis Foerster (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from Asia. Entomological Review (Birmingham) 78: 475-480.
  • Radchenko, A.G. 1998. A key to ants of the genus Cataglyphis Foerster (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Asia. Entomological Review 78(4):475-480.
  • Santschi, F. 1929. Note additionelle aux fourmis du Sahara central récoltées par la Mission du Hoggar (février-mars 1928). Bulletin de la Société d'Histoire Naturelle de l'Afrique du Nord 20: 164-166.
  • Santschi, F. 1934. Fourmis du Sahara central. Memoires de la Société d'Histoire Naturelle d'Afrique du Nord 4: 165-177.
  • Santschi, F. 1938. Quelques nouvelles fourmis d'Egypte. Bulletin de la Société Entomologique d'Egypte 21: 28-44.
  • Santschi, F.. "Notes sur les fourmis du Sahara." Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (2) 4 (1932): 516-520.
  • Stitz, H.. "Ameisen aus dem westlichen Mittelmeergebiet und von den Kanarischen Inseln." Mitteilungen aus den Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 8 (1917): 333-353.
  • Taylor B., Z. A. Yefremova, V. D. Kravchenko, and G. C. Muller. 2016. The ants of Mali (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) – a historical review and new records. Entomofauna 37(35): 545‐564.
  • Wheeler W. M. and W. M. Mann. 1916. The ants of the Phillips Expedition to Palestine during 1914. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 60: 167-174.
  • Wheeler W. M., and W. M. Mann. 1916. The ants of the Phillips Expedition to Palestine during 1914. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 60: 167-174.