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Worker Ants
Male Ants




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Worker caste monomorphic, dimorphic or polymorphic. Integument hard. Frontal carinae variously developed; frontal lobes usually covering antennal insertions (except in Pristomyrmex among Japanese genera); posterior portion of clypeus reaching back to the level of the antennal insertions, at times even extended between the frontal lobes; frons obscure in some genera. Eyes variously developed but not absent. Ocelli usually absent, rarely present (as in major workers of Pheidologeton). Mandibles varying in shape, dentition and insertion; often providing important taxonomic characters for distinguishing species and genera. Antennal segments ranging from 4 (in Pyramica) to 12; sometimes forming a segmentally well-defined club variously comprising its apical segments. Pro- and mesonota immovably connected, even if an intervening suture is present. Posterodorsal portion of propodeum often with projections, which are variously developed according to genera or species. Abdominal pedicel consisting of 2 segments (petiole and postpetiole). Sting varying from well-developed (as in Myrmica) to vestigial and externally not visible (as in Crematogaster). Females generally distinctly larger than workers. Eyes and three ocelli present. Mesosoma large and stout, with pronounced sutures separating its sclerites. Abdominal pedicel 2-segmented, as in workers. Venation varying: including a ponerine type (with 2 submarginal cells, as in Pheidole), a Formica type (as in Tetramorium), a Camponotus type (as in Leptothorax), or sometimes reduced (as in the genera of tribe Dacetonini). Males with eyes, ocelli and mesosoma as in females; mandibles less well-developed than those of conspecific females and workers; propodeal spines (if present) and petiolar node less-prominent than those of conspecific females and workers. Abdominal pedicel 2-segmented, as in workers and females.


The Myrmicinae is the most morphologically and biologically diverse ant subfamily, and the largest worldwide in numbers of genera and species. Caste systems among its species often extend beyond the basic divisions of female-worker-male. For example, Cardiocondyla sometimes produces ergatoid males, and major workers of Pheidologeton and Oligomyrmex may resemble females in some morphological traits. Worker sub-castes are often present. Food habits are generally omnivorous, but some species are specialized to utilize particular foods. The dacetonines, for example, are specialist predators of small soil arthropods; Messor species collect seeds, and attines are fungivorous. Nesting habits also vary greatly to include terrestrial, subterranean, arboreal and other classes. Some species are social parasites. Several studies on the detailed biology of Japanese myrmicines have been recently presented, but the field is still fragmentary. Worldwide the subfamily comprises over 2,000 species classified in 140 genera. It accounts for about 50% of Japanese ant species, detailed taxonomic understanding of which is incomplete. Indeed, about 40% of the Japanese myrmicine species are either nomenclaturally undetermined or undescribed. The higher classification of the subfamily is not confidently developed, particularly at tribal level. There have been several major revisions in some groups since the pioneering classification of Emery (1921, 1922) but the definitions of many tribes remain obscure. Kugler (1978a, 1978b, 1979, 1986) proposed a phylogenetic system at generic level based on his comparative studies of the sting apparatus, though the range of taxa he treated was somewhat limited. Further studies on phylogenetic relationships among the genera and on tribal-level classification are sorely needed. The subfamily as a whole is worldwide in distribution. Some Japanese genera, such as Manica, are Holarctic, while others are distributed widely in the tropics and subtropics. Even those genera with stenochoric distributions are most species-rich in warmer areas. Generic synopses of Japanese myrmicines were given by Ogata in 1991, following his keys to the genera (Ogata, 1985a, 1985b), and by the Myrmecological Society of Japan Editorial Committee (1991b). "A List of the Ants of Japan with Common Japanese Names" (Myrmecological Society of Japan Editorial Committee, 1988) nominated 95 species assigned to 29 genera. In the light of new findings and improved understanding of the fauna, we now recognize 124 species in 29 genera.


  • Emery, C. (1921). Hymenoptera, fam. Formicidae, subfam. Myrmicinae. . In P. Wytsman, ed., ""Genera Insectorum"", fasc. , 174A, 1-94. .
  • Emery, C. (1922). Hymenoptera, fam. Formicidae, subfam. Myrmicinae. . In P. Wytsman, ed., ""Genera Insectorum"", fasc. , 174B-C, 95-397, .
  • Kugler, C. (1978a. ). A comparative study of the myrmicine sting apparatus (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). . Stud. Ent., 20, 413-548.
  • Kugler (1978b) : R000127
  • Kugler, C. (1979). Evolution of the sting apparatus in the myrmicine ants. . Evolution, 33, 117-130.
  • Kugler, C. (1986). Sting of ants of the tribe Pheidologetini (Myrmicinae). . Insecta Mundi, 1, 221-230.
  • Ogata, K. (1991). A generic synopsis of the poneroid complex of the family Formicidae in Japan (Hymenoptera). Part II. Subfamily Myrmicinae. Bull. Inst. Trop. Agr., . Kyushu Univ., 14, 61-149.
  • Ogata, K. (1985a. ). Classification of Japanese ants (3)-Key to the genera of Myrmicinae-. . Nature Study, 31, 102-104. .
  • Ogata, K. (1985b. ). Classification of Japanese ants (4)-Notes on the genera of Myrmicinae-. . Nature Study, 31, 125-128. .
  • Myrmecological Society of Japan, Editorial Committee (ed.) (1991a.). A guide for the identification of Japanese ants (II). Dolichoderinae and Formicinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). The Myrmecological Society of Japan, Tokyo.


Original text by Kazuo Ogata and Keiichi Onoyama. English translation by Kazuo Ogata, edited by Robert W. Taylor.