| 28 genera|
20 fossil genera
134 fossil species
|See Phylogeny of Formicidae for details.|
This subfamily contains some of the most common and well-known species of Australian ants. This includes the genus Iridomyrmex, a group found throughout Australia, often in very large numbers. Some of the rarer Australian ants are also in this subfamily. For example, Nebothriomyrmex majeri has been collected fewer than 10 times. A significant introduced pest, the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), is also a dolichoderine.
Most species of Dolichoderinae are general predators or scavengers. Many also tend Hemiptera to collect honeydew or are associated with caterpillars. Nests are found in a wide variety of locations, including in the soil, under rocks and other objects, in rotten and living wood, in termite mounds, and in cracks between rocks. Some species (in the genus Arnoldius) are thought to establish their nests by new queens invading the nests of other ants, killing the queen, and using the captured workers to help raise her own offspring.
Species of Dolichoderinae can be found in most regions of the world and in all major habitats. There are about 1000 described species and subspecies placed in 26 genera world-wide. Fifteen genera and over 160 species and subspecies have been described from Australia, with numerous taxa still awaiting description. Four of the genera, Arnoldius, Doleromyrma, Froggattella and Nebothriomyrmex, are only known from Australia. The relationships among these genera have been well documented (see Phylogeny of Dolichoderinae).
The Dolichoderines lack a sting, but are armed with defensive compounds produced by the anal gland - a structure unique to the subfamily. This is the source of the pungent, and often unpleasant odors produced by many species when they are disturbed, crushed or otherwise annoyed. In many species colonies may be polygynous and/or polydomous. Some are predaceous, but most appear to be generalized scavengers with a strong liking for carbohydrates taken directly or indirectly from plant sources. In addition to founding colonies via single newly mated queens, some produce new colonies by budding or fission. Most Dolichoderines are free-living; a few are social parasites on other members of their subfamily.
The mesosoma is attached to the gaster by a single distinct segment, the petiole. The gaster is smooth, without constrictions between the segments. The sting is absent and the tip of the gaster is slit-like and without a circular opening (an acidopore).
Species of Dolichoderinae are most often confused with species of the subfamily Formicinae because both have a single segmented petiole, lack a sting and are often similar in overall body size and shape This is especially true for the smaller species such as those in Doleromyrma and Tapinoma. However, dolichoderines can always be separated from formicines because the tip of the gaster has a slit-like opening while all formicines have a small circular opening.
Males: Boudinot (2015) - The Dolichoderinae are uniquely identified by the telomere, which is strongly reduced and does not extend anteroventrad the basimere. Males of the subfamily are further identified by the following combination of characters: oblique mesopleural sulcus present; seven or fewer closed cells present on forewing; jugal lobe absent; petiolar peduncle short or absent; abdominal segment III unpetiolated; abdominal segment IV without cinctus between pre- and postsclerites; abdominal sternum IX unpronged and edentate. Additional characters for distinguishing males of the Dolichoderinae from the Aneuretinae and Formicinae are indicated in couplets 19 and 20 of the key to subfamilies key.
Keys including this Subfamily
- Key to Australian Ant Subfamilies
- Key to Iberian Peninsula Subfamilies
- Key to Subfamilies, Males
- Key to Subfamilies of North America
- Key to subfamilies of the Neotropical region
Keys to Genus in this Subfamily
- Dolichoderinae of the southwestern Australian Botanical Province
- Key to Australian Genera of Dolichoderinae
- Key to North American Genera of Dolichoderinae
- Key to Philippine Dolichoderinae
- Key to the Dolichoderinae genera of the southwestern Australian Botanical Province
Distribution and Habitats
Genus richness by country based on regional taxon lists (countries with darker colours are more genus-rich).
Species richness by country based on regional taxon lists (countries with darker colours are more species-rich).
Boudinot (2015) - The Dolichoderinae is one of the major ant lineages, with over 700 described species distributed in 28 valid genera. Males are unknown for four genera (Ecphorella, Gracilidris, Loweriella, Nebothriomyrmex). One of the historically intractable problems of myrmecology has been the separation of male Dolichoderinae and Formicinae. Here, the telomeral character described by Yoshimura & Fisher (2011) is confirmed as a diagnostic synapomorphy of the subfamily on a global scale, while the antennal torulus to clypeus distance character was first described to the author’s knowledge in Czechowski et al. (2012). Several other characters were found to distinguish male Dolichoderinae and Formicinae, as indicated in the key and diagnosis. Genera of Dolichoderinae have been keyed globally by Shattuck (1992), although this key stands in need of updating. A key to the New World dolichoderine genera is in preparation (B. Boudinot, in prep.).
DOLICHODERINAE [subfamily of Formicidae]
- Dolichoderidae Forel, 1878: 364 [as subfamily of Formicidae]. Type-genus: Dolichoderus.
Shattuck (1992b): Seven characters were found which suggest the subfamily is monophyletic. These are
(1) loss of pupal cocoons
(2)reduction of the larval neck
(3) reduced number of larval hairs
(4) lightly sclerotized larval mandibles
(5) larval maxillary palp and galea reduced to sensilla
(6) small larval sericteries
(7) cyclopentanoid monoterpene production.
- Boudinot, B.E. 2015. Contributions to the knowledge of Formicidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata): a new diagnosis of the family, the first global male-based key to subfamilies, and a treatment of early branching lineages. European Journal of Taxonomy 120, 1-62 (http://dx.doi.org/10.5852/ejt.2015.120).
- Forel, A. 1878c. Études myrmécologiques en 1878 (première partie) avec l'anatomie du gésier des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 15:337-392. PDF
- Shattuck, S.O. 1992a. Review of the dolichoderine ant genus Iridomyrmex Mayr with descriptions of three new genera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Aust. Entomol. Soc. 31:13-18. PDF
- Shattuck, S.O. 1992b. Higher classification of the ant subfamilies Aneuretinae, Dolichoderinae and Formicinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Syst. Entomol. 17:199-206. PDF