Morphology and Terminology

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Ants vary greatly in size. Here a Discothyrea sexarticulata worker rests on Dinoponera australis. Photo by Guilherme Ide (MZUSP).
Myrmecia brevinoda, one of the largest ants, together with one of the smallest, Carebara atoma, photographed using an electron microscope. Photo by Bob Taylor and Colin Beaton.

Information on morphology and terminology can be found on the following pages.

Body Morphology



Surface Sculpture

Caste morphology

Internal Organs

  • Digestive tract
  • Thoracic crop (see Petersen-Braun, M.; Buschinger, A. 1975: Entstehung und Funktion eines thorakalen Kropfes bei Formiciden-Königinnen. Insectes Sociaux 22: 51-66 (Development and function of a thoracic crop in ant queens); Casadei-Ferreira, A., Fischer, G., Economo, E.P. 2020. Evidence for a thoracic crop in the workers of some Neotropical Pheidole species (Formicidae: Myrmicinae). Arthropod Structure, Development 59, 100977 (doi:10.1016/J.ASD.2020.100977)

During independent, claustral colony foundation of ant queens the flight muscles degenerate. The then „empty“ space within the thorax can be filled with a considerable swelling of the esophagus, which may serve as a „thoracic crop“, in addition to the usual crop in the gaster. Hölldobler & Wilson 1990, p.157: „More recently, it has been found that the esophagus of the queen expands into a "thoracic crop" in which the converted tissues are temporarily held in liquid form. In Pharaoh's ant (Monomorium pharaonis), the esophagus diameter widens from 7-10 micrometers to 265 micrometers. The thoracic crop has been demonstrated in five genera of Myrmicinae and Formicinae so far (Petersen-Braun and Buschinger, 1975).“

Life History Strategies

  • Terminology Descriptions of life history strategies used throughout AntWiki.

Economo-header (  X-ray micro-CT scan 3D model of Proceratium sp. (worker) prepared by the Economo lab at OIST.

Specimen from USA See on Sketchfab. See list of 3D images.

Economo-header (  X-ray micro-CT scan 3D model of Melissotarsus (worker) prepared by the Economo lab at OIST.

Open mouthparts of bark-inhabiting ant species Melissotarsus sp. from Africa. See on Sketchfab. See list of 3D images.