Aphaenogaster longiceps (F. Smith)

Shattuck, S. O., 2008, Australian ants of the genus Aphaenogaster (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1677, pp. 25-45: 33-39

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Aphaenogaster longiceps (F. Smith)


Aphaenogaster longiceps (F. Smith)  HNS 

(Figs 9, 10, 27)

Myrmica longiceps F. Smith  HNS  , 1858: 128.

Aphaenogaster longiceps  HNS  : Mayr, 1876: 98.

Stenamma (Ischomyrmex) longiceps ruginota Forel  HNS  , 1902: 440 (synonymy by Wheeler, 1916: 217).

Aphaenogaster (Nystalomyrma) longiceps var. flava Emery  HNS  , 1921: 61 (m.) syn. n.

Types. A. longiceps (Smith)  HNS  : Worker from Melbourne, Victoria ( BMNH). A. longiceps ruginota Forel  HNS  : Worker and queen syntypes from New South Wales and Yarra District, Victoria ( MHNG). A. flava Emery  HNS  : Male from Queensland (not examined).

Diagnosis. Hairs on venter of head randomly distributed and not forming a distinct psammophore (Fig. 10); posterior margin of head broadly arched in full face view (Fig. 9); shorter erect hairs on mesosomal dorsum(especially those on mesonotum) with blunt tips; propodeal spines long, the dorsal surfaces of propodeum and propodeal spines connected through a gentle concavity (so that the base of each spine is at approximately the same level as the dorsal surface of the propodeum) (Fig. 10). The long scapes and blunt mesonotal hairs will separate this species from near relatives.

Description. Posterior margin of head broadly arched in full face view, the arch beginning at the occipital collar and with at most a weak angle separating the posterior and lateral margins of the head (often posterior and lateral margins forming a continuous surface). Hairs on venter of head randomly distributed and not forming a distinct psammophore. Mandibular sculpture composed of regularly sized striations. Shorter erect hairs on mesosomal dorsum (especially those on mesonotum) with blunt tips. Propodeal spines intermediate in length. Dorsal surfaces of propodeum and propodeal spines connected through a gentle concavity (so that the base of each spine is at approximately the same level as the dorsal surface of the propodeum). Petiolar node (in dorsal view) approximately square.

Measurements. Worker (n = 10). CI 78-89; EI 19-24; EL 0.18-0.25; HL 0.99-1.43; HW 0.82-1.25; ML 1.50-2.07; MTL 1.04-1.41; SI 130-161; SL 1.31-1.71.

Material examined (in ANIC unless otherwise noted). Australian Capital Territory: Black Mountain (Taylor,R.W.; Taylor,R.W. & Bartell,R.J.; Greaves,T.); Black Mountain, near Haydon Drive (Berg,R.Y.); Bulls Head Rd., Brindabellas (Berg,R.Y.); Canberra (Hill,G.F.); Lake McKenzie (Barnett,N.J.); Naas (Greaves,T.); Paddys River (Greaves,T.). New South Wales: 12km S Cessnock (Lowery,B.B.); 16mi. ENE Coonabarabran (Greaves,T.); 16mi. S Tenterfield (Greaves,T.); 1km S Bateau Bay Faunal Res. (Lowery,B.B.); 3 mi. E Berry (Lowery,B.B.); 4km N The Entrance (Lowery,B.B.); 4km NE Mt. Wog Wog, 17km SE Bombala (Greenslade,P.J.M.; Margules,C.R.); 5km S St. Albans (Lowery,B.B.); 6mi. NE Bendemeer (Greaves,T.); 75km E Armidale (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Adams Lookout, near Bungonia (Berg,R.Y.); Appin (Greaves,T.); Armidale (Lowery,B.B.); Avon River State Forest (Gush,T.); Bald Knob SF., nr. Woodenbong (Lowery,B.B.); Beecroft Res., Jervis Bay (Naumann,I.D.); Belanglo State Forest (Gush,T.); Blackheath, Blue Mts. (Lowery,B.B.); Bodalla State Forest (Gush,T.); Brindabella HS (Shattuck,S.O.); Broadwater NP (Lowery,B.B.); Bugaldie (Lowery,B.B.); Burril Lakes (nr. Cockwhyte Ck) (Moran,R.J.); Burrinjuck Dam Sanctuary (Lowery,B.B.); ca. 2km S Byron Bay (Reichel,H.); Central Mangrove (Lowery,B.B.); Clyde Mountain (Berg,R.Y.); Colo Vale, nr. Mittagong (T.G.); Cowra (Lowery,B.B.); Dalrymple Forest, Pymble, Sydney; Dr. George Mt., 4km E of Bega (Lowery,B.B.); Durras (Shattuck,S.O.); Durras Lake (Greaves,T.); E foot of Brown Mt., Bega (Lowery,B.B.); East Boyd State Forest (Gush,T.); Faulconbridge (Gush,T.); Fitzroy Falls (McAreavey,J.); Galston (Willings); Gerroa, 8mi. S Kiama (Lowery,B.B.); Gilgai, 4mi. E Inverell (Lowery,B.B.); Goulburn (Lowery,B.B.); Gravel Pit Creek, Kaputar, Narrabri (Room,P.M.); Hawks Nest, Myall Lakes (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Hazelbrook (Wetherly,A.H.); Heathcote Nat. Pk (Gush,T.); Hume Hwy nr. Harden (Lowery,B.B.); Huskisson (Barnett,N.J.); Iluka (Lowery,B.B.); Jerrabomberra Hill nr. Queanbeyan (Taylor,R.W. & Weir,T.A.); Jervis Bay, between Huskisson and Vincentia (Berg,R.Y.); Kings Tableland, 5 km S Wentworth Falls (Lowery,B.B.); Kioloa, ANU Field Station (Shattuck,S.O.); Kiwarrak State Forest (Gush,T.); Lane Cove (Lowery,B.B.); Lansdowne (Gush,T.); Lawson (Lowery,B.B.); Legume (Armstrong,J.); Macquarie Pass (Greaves,T.); Mangrove Central (Lowery,B.B.); Mongarlowe (Gush,T.); Mooney Mooney Creek (Bridge) (Gush,T.); Mount Keira (Gush,T.); Mt. Flora nr. Mittagong (Taylor,R.W., Sadler,R. & Bartell,R.); Mt. Warning(Lowery,B.B.); Myall Lakes (Greenslade,P.J.M. & Fox,M.); Myall Lakes (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Myall Lakes, ML 1 (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Myall Lakes, ML 5 (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Myall Lakes, Mungo Brush (Greenslade,P.J.M.); New England Nat. Pk, Bullock Ck. (Taylor,R.W.); Newlands Ck., 10km W Merrimbula [Merimbula] (Lowery,B.B.); nr. Armidale, Newholme Road (Sakurai,Y.); nr. Hornsby, Galston Gorge (Greaves,T.); nr. Otford Stn, Royal NP (Ward,P.S.) ( ANIC, PSWC); Nullica State Forest (Gush,T.); Ophir, nr. Orange (Taylor,R.W.); Pymble (McAreaveyJ.); Queanbeyan, Mt. Jerrabomberra (Taplin,I.C.); Royal National Park (Berg,R.Y.); Smiths Lake, Myall Lakes (Greenslade,P.J.M.); South Head, Moruya (Watson,J.A.L.); Sutherland(Wheeler); Sydney (Ward,P.S.) ( ANIC, PSWC); Sydney, Gordon (Ward,P.S.) ( ANIC, PSWC); Tambourine Bay Res., Sydney (Lowery,B.B.); Tantawangalo Mts. (Hill,G.F.); Tobbimoble SF [Tabbimoble State Forest] (Greaves,T.); Uralla (Lowery,B.B.); Wahroonga; Wallingat State Forest (Gush,T.); Wang Wauk State Forest (Gush,T.); Washpool National Park (Lowery,B.B.); Weddin Mountains Nat. Pk. (Ward,P.S.); Wentworth Falls (Wheeler,W.M.); Whiporie (Lowery,B.B.); Wollongbar (Lawrence,J.F.); Woodstock Cemetery approx. 1km S of Woodstock nr. Cowra (Prober,S.); Yarabal, 13km S Braidwood (Taylor,R.W.). Queensland: 22mi. ENE Condamine (Dowse,J.E.); 2mi. NNE Ballandean (Greaves,T.); 41km NE Inglewood (Gush,T.); Bauple, State Forest 958 (House,A.); Beaconsfield (T.G.); Boombana NP (Taylor,R.W. & Kohout,R.); Cedar Creek Falls Pk., Mt. Tamborine (Taylor,R.W.); Cooloola (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Burwilla (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Carlands Ck. (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Como (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Kabali W (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Mutyi (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Noosa Plain (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Noosa R. (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Plowman (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Rainforest (Greenslade,P.J.M.; Room,P.M.); Cooloola Natl. Pk., Warrawonga (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola, Chalamban [Chalambar] (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola, Kabali E (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Cooloola, Wide Bay (Greenslade,P.J.M.); Dawson Range, Blackdown Tableland (Kohout,R.J.); Duaringa; Fletcher (Barrett,J.H.); Frazer Island [Fraser Island] (Dick,M. & Hunt,P.); Landsborough (Taylor,R.W.); Monto (Gush,T.); Mt. D'Aguilar (Taylor,R.W.); Mt. Glorious (Lowery,B.B.; Taylor,R.W.); Mt. Moffat NP, Mahogany Forest (Monteith, Thompson & Yeates); Mt. Mort, Grandchester (Parlett,H.); Mt. Tamborine, Cedar Ck NP (Taylor,R.W.); Mt. Tamborine, Cedar Ck. Falls (Taylor,R.W.); summit Mt. Coot-tha, Brisbane (Lowery,B.B.); Tamborine Mt. nr. Witches Falls (Kohout,R.J.); Wallum, Cooloola (Room,P.M.). South Australia: 3mi. E Kongorong (Lowery,B.B.). Victoria: 10mi. N Nelson (Lowery,B.B.); 12km E Warburton (Newton,A. & Thayer,M.); Ferntree Gully (T.G.); Gellibrand (Clark,J.); Glenaladale Natl. Pk.; Grampians [The Grampians]; Melbourne; Mt. Buffalo NP, Eurobin Ck. (Newton,A. & Thayer,M.); nr. Baxter (Boulton,A.); Seville (Greaves,T.); Spring Vale [Springvale] (Greaves,T.).

Comments. This is one of the most commonly encountered species of Aphaenogaster  HNS  in Australia. It occurs in a wide range of habitats from swampy coastal scrub, wet sclerophyll and rainforests through to dry sclerophyll and Callitris woodlands. Nests in sandy soil are often highly visible with large, funnel-shaped entrances while nests in firmer soils are less obvious with low, scattered soil around entrances. Nests are also found under rocks or other objects on the ground. Activity around nests is generally restricted to a few workers excavating soil or defending the nest entrance. Foraging activity seems to be limited with workers foraging singly and primarily near the nest. This species has an extensive literature, including the following: Banks (1916) (association with mites), Crawley (1922a: 122) (biology), Barrett (1927) (habits, as A. longipes  HNS  [sic]), Clark (1929: 121) (distribution), Clark (1934: 58) (distribution), Smith and Atherton (1944: 4) (biology, economic importance), Sloane and Sloane (1964) (nesting biology), Berg (1975) (seed dispersal), Imai, Crozier and Taylor (1977) (karyotype), Greenslade and Thompson (1981) (biology), Humphreys (1981) (relation to soils), Humphreys and Mitchell (1983) (relation to soils), Cowan et al. (1985) (relation to soils), Andersen (1988a) (relation to fire), Anderson (1988b) (relation to plants), Hughes and Westoby (1992a) (seed dispersal), Hughes and Westoby (1992b) (seed dispersal), Nicholls and McKenzie (1994) (distribution pattern) and York (1994) (relation to fire).

Emery's (1921) A. flava  HNS  is here treated as a junior synonym of A. longiceps  HNS  . A. flava  HNS  was established by indication based on a male from Queensland and figured in Emery (1914). Emery (1914) presented two figures, one identified as longiceps  HNS  from Queensland and the other as longiceps ruginota  HNS  from Sydney. Emery (1921) based flava  HNS  on the figure of longiceps  HNS  . Wheeler (1916) (before Emery established flava  HNS  ) stated that the differences between these males were "insignificant" and considered them to belong to the same taxon, longiceps  HNS  (he considered ruginota  HNS  to be a synonym of longiceps  HNS  , a treatment supported during this study); he also mentions that the male of pythia  HNS  is quite different. Unfortunately Emery (1921) gave no information on why he considered flava  HNS  to be a distinct taxon.

In fact the males of longiceps  HNS  and pythia  HNS  are very similar, differing mainly in colour and size (being larger and darker in longiceps  HNS  ). The male of barbara  HNS  , the only other species of Aphaenogaster  HNS  known from Queensland, differs from both longiceps  HNS  and pythia  HNS  in lacking a metanotal groove and in having the occipital collar rounded. The males of both longiceps  HNS  and pythia  HNS  have distinct, angular metanotal grooves and the occipital collars are angular. What Wheeler (1916) considered to be the male of pythia  HNS  may well have actually been the male barbara  HNS  .

Emery's (1914) illustration of longiceps  HNS  gives little hint as to whether this male belongs to longiceps  HNS  or pythia  HNS  , although barbara  HNS  can be safely eliminated. The shape of the head does differ slightly between longiceps  HNS  and pythia  HNS  , and Emery's figure resembles longiceps  HNS  more closely than pythia  HNS  . Based on this flava  HNS  is here treated as a synonym of longiceps  HNS  rather than pythia  HNS  .

It should be noted that the name flava  HNS  was overlooked for 74 years, until Bolton (1995) drew attention to it in his world catalogue. The name's obscurity was due to the cryptic way in which it was established. The name was based on a scant two lines of text, one consisting of " flava, Emery  HNS  " and a second with a reference to Emery (1914). It is easy to see why the name was overlooked for such an extended period of time.


United Kingdom, London, The Natural History Museum [formerly British Museum (Natural History)]


Switzerland, Geneva, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle


Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Canberra City, CSIRO, Australian National Insect Collection