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Dorylus helvolus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Leach, 1815
26 genera
808 species
  • Acanthostichini
  • Aenictinae
  • Aenictogitoninae
  • Cerapachyinae
  • Cheliomyrmecini
  • Cylindromyrmecini
  • Ecitoninae
  • Eusphinctinae
  • Leptanilloidinae
  • Lioponerini
Evolutionary Placement

  (8 genera)

  (1 genera)

  (9 genera)

  (3 genera)

  (47 genera)

  (2 genera)

  (1 genera)

  (26 genera)

  (2 genera)

  (3 genera)

  (1 genera)

  (28 genera)

  (51 genera)

  (143 genera)

  (4 genera)

  (3 genera)

See Phylogeny of Formicidae for details.

The subfamily revision by Marek Borowiec (2016) has drastically altered the taxonomy of the constituent genera. This work created a much sounder foundation for future studies of Doryline ants. Borowiec's summary of the subfamily "The subfamily is a monophyletic group of predatory ants, occurring throughout most of the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, with an appreciable number of species in warm temperate environments. The relatively few dorylines for which foraging biology is known usually prey on other ants or social insects, although notable exceptions occur and several of the charismatic ‘army ants’ evolved more generalized predatory habits. There are about 680 described species with an estimate of the total diversity being at least 1,000. The diversity of both habits and morphology within the subfamily is high and nesting can be subterranean or arboreal, with colony sizes ranging from a few dozen to millions of workers. These workers vary from having well-developed compound eyes to being entirely blind, having very short to very long slender appendages, and with the cuticle varying from coarsely sculptured to polished and shiny, with dull or conspicuous coloration. We know about the biology of a few conspicuous species within the subfamily. Overall, our biologically knowledge is very poor because many species are subterranean or occur at low abundances. Comparative studies of doryline biology have been thwarted by poor taxonomic knowledge, a lack of identification resources, and a classification that does not reflect evolutionary relationships."


Borowiec (2016) - Worker - Easily recognized through a combination of metapleural gland orifice concealed by a dorsal cuticular flap, large and convex sternite of the helcium, and exposed abdominal spiracles of segments V–VII.

Queen Doryline gynes share many worker characteristics and can be recognized by the same putative synapomorphies as the worker, except perhaps for the highly specialized ‘dichthadiigyne’ queens of the true army ants. The latter may be difficult to distinguish from convergently evolved specialized queens of Leptanilla (Leptanillinae; Baroni Urbani 1977), Onychomyrmex (Amblyoponinae; Wheeler 1916) or Simopelta (Ponerinae; Gotwald and Brown 1967). Perhaps the best single character to identify dichthadiigynes as Dorylinae is the presence of posteriorly shifted abdominal spiracles V-VII, visible on the gaster without distension or dissection of abdominal sclerites.

Male Recognized by the lack of cerci, almost universally bispinose hypopygium, and retractable genital capsule. The last two characters do not apply to Leptanilloides, but the cerci are lacking in this genus, too. Leptanilloides also has extremely reduced tegulae or is lacking them entirely, a loss perhaps unique among male ants.

Keys including this Subfamily

Keys to Genus in this Subfamily

Distribution and Habitats

Borowiec (2016) -Dorylines occur on all continents except Antarctica but are the most prominent in tropical regions of the world. A few species range into the warm temperate zone, as far as the state of New Jersey in northeastern United States and western Turkey and the Dodecanese in the Mediterranean. In the southern hemisphere, they reach southern Australia and Tasmania, South Africa, and at least as far as Chubut province in southern Argentina.

Genus richness

Genus richness by country based on regional taxon lists (countries with darker colours are more genus-rich).

Dorylinae Genus Richness.png

Species richness

Species richness by country based on regional taxon lists (countries with darker colours are more species-rich).

Dorylinae Species Richness.png


Borowiec 2016:

The 28 genera of the Dorylinae form a well-supported monophyletic group that is in turn a part of a more inclusive formicoid clade (Brady et al. 2006, Moreau et al. 2006). The formicoids hold almost 90% of all extant ant species. Within this group, the Dorylinae is sister to all other lineages. These include the subfamilies Aneuretinae, Dolichoderinae, Ectatomminae, Formicinae, Heteroponerinae, Myrmeciinae, Myrmicinae, and Pseudomyrmecinae (Ward 2014). Recent dating analyses place the origins of the crown group (that is all extant species including their common ancestor) dorylines at 70–100 million years and indicate that the subfamily has undergone a rapid radiation early in its history (Brady et al. 2014, Borowiec, in prep.). The rapid initial diversification can be perhaps attributed to specialization on other social insects as prey. This adaptation is currently not unique to this clade, but doryline ants were likely the first that evolved it. It is probably a fair generalization to say that dorylines use preformed cavities for nesting and move their colonies often relative to other ants, particularly in the case of the ‘true army ants’ (see below).

In addition to the true army ants, the subfamily Dorylinae comprises a variety of forms that prior to the study of Brady et al. (2014) had been classified in the erstwhile subfamilies Cerapachyinae and Leptanilloidinae. The relationships among these lineages are still not entirely understood, but it is now certain that they do not represent a monophyletic group (Borowiec, in prep.). Many of the now valid genera have been treated as a single genus Cerapachys prior to this revision (Brown 1975). The scarce information on foraging habits indicates that most species prey on other ants or on termites. It is unclear if any species of this assemblage evolved the complete suite of the army ant syndrome, although collective foraging and specialized queens similar to those found in true army ants are known in some lineages.

Dorylines occur on all continents except Antarctica but are the most prominent in tropical regions of the world. A few species range into the warm temperate zone, as far as the state of New Jersey in northeastern United States and western Turkey and the Dodecanese in the Mediterranean. In the southern hemisphere, they reach southern Australia and Tasmania, South Africa, and at least as far as Chubut province in southern Argentina.

Within the subfamily, a group of genera sometimes termed ‘the true army ants’ (or ‘AenEcDo’ army ants; Kronauer 2009) can be distinguished. The true army ants include the genera Aenictus, Aenictogiton, Cheliomyrmex, Dorylus, Eciton, Labidus, Neivamyrmex, and Nomamyrmex. These ants possess what has been termed the ‘army ant syndrome’: a set of morphological and behavioral characteristics that are common to all species of the group (Brady 2003). The syndrome includes collective foraging, frequent colony relocations, and specialized queen morphology. The true army ants always forage in highly coordinated swarms with no scouts or leading foragers. There are no permanent nests and colonies move periodically, a behavior that is thought to be an adaptation to local depletion of resources. The queens are also highly specialized, wingless and with large abdomens (dubbed ‘dichthadiigynes’), capable of producing large numbers of eggs. Colony foundation in army ants is also unusual. Young queens are unable to start a new colony independently as in most ant species, and instead they rely on a retinue of workers departing with them from their parent nest. An extensive body of literature exists concerning army ant biology and excellent, readable overviews of the subject have been published (Gotwald 1995, Kronauer 2009).

The true army ants currently account for the majority of doryline diversity. More than 45% of the described species of Dorylinae are classified in just two true army ant genera: Aenictus (occurring in the Old World) and Neivamyrmex (New World). As noted above, the army ants are where the largest colony sizes and most conspicuous foraging behaviors evolved. Several species became adapted to taking a variety of invertebrate prey in addition to the more standard social insect diet and during foraging they form the trails that are such a memorable sight to most visitors to the tropics. These formidable columns of ants are observed in the genera Eciton and Labidus, in the New World and Dorylus in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. In addition to conspicuous predators with varied diets, Dorylus and Eciton contain species that retain the ancestral condition of preying upon other ants. The latter specialization seems to be a rule for most other species and genera (Aenictus in the Old World, Neivamyrmex and Nomamyrmex (in the New World) of the true army ants for which we have foraging observations.

The sexual dimorphism of the true army ants is remarkable, even compared to other ants, and has contributed to a complex early taxonomic history and the establishment of a ‘dual taxonomy’ in which descriptions of new species were often based on males unassociated with any females.

Aenictogiton, an African lineage now recognized as the sister group to Dorylus and thus in phylogenetic terms nested within the true army ant clade (Brady et al. 2014), deserves a separate mention. The genus has been originally described from a male (Emery 1901b) and its worker remained a mystery for over one hundred years, until the first workers were collected in Uganda in 2006. Since then more workers have been uncovered and their conspecificity with Aenictogiton males from the same area was confirmed through molecular phylogenetics (unpublished data). The present study is the first to formally describe the worker caste of this elusive genus. The worker morphology of Aenictogiton is reminiscent of certain species of the distantly-related Leptanilloides and suggests that these ants are strictly subterranean. This is the only lineage of the true army ants for which no behavioral observations have ever been published.

Boudinot (2015) - The males of the Dorylinae have a long history of treatment due to the conspicuousness and remarkable morphology of several constituent genera (Dorylus, Aenictus, Aenictogiton, the Eciton genus group). Indeed, the first male-based ant taxon described was Dorylus helvolus (L., 1764).


DORYLINAE [subfamily of Formicidae]

  • Dorylida Leach, 1815: 147 [as family-group name]. Type-genus: Dorylus.
  • Dorylidae: Haliday, 1836: 331 [emended spelling of suffix].
  • Dorylinae: Forel, 1893a: 163 [as subfamily of Formicidae]; Brown, 1954e: 28.
  • Dorylii: Forel, 1893a: 163 [as tribe of Dorylinae].
  • Dorylini: Ashmead, 1905b: 381 [emended spelling of suffix].

Borowiec 2016:

Doryline ants are characterized by their predation on other social insects, a condition that appears to be apomorphic for the group, but there is also a plethora of morphological characters that distinguish them from other ant lineages. Extensive work grounded in examination of morphology has been done to infer ant phylogeny (Gotwald 1969, Ward 1990, Baroni Urbani et al. 1992, Bolton 2003, Keller 2011), and the evolution of the doryline clade in particular (Bolton 1990a, 1990b, Brady and Ward 2005, Barry Bolton’s unpublished work, this study). As a result, multiple morphological characters have been identified as diagnostic or possibly synapomorphic for the Dorylinae. The list and discussions below are adapted and updated from the works cited above. Likely synapomorphies are in italics.


Borowiec 2016. Figure 2. A abdominal segment number. an anepisternum. as antennal socket. c coxa number. cl clypeus. cof coxal flange. de declivity of propodeum. ep endophragmal pit. ey eye. fu funiculus. gc girdling constriction. hd head. he helcium. hy hypopygium. kn katepisternum. mes mesosoma. mgb metapleural gland bulla. mms mesometapleural suture. mn mandible. mpl mesopleuron. mtp metapleuron. oc ocelli. pd pedicel. pl propodeal lobe. pn pronotum. ppd propodeum. pps pronotomesopleural suture. pfr parafrontal ridges. prr prora. prs promesonotum. psst posternite. pst presternite. pstr posttergite. pt petiole. ptr pretergite. py pygidium. s sting. sc scape. sp spiracle. st sternite. tmg transverse mesopleural groove. tptc torulo-posttorular complex. tr tergite. vlm ventrolateral margin.

1. Lateral area of clypeus very narrow in full face view; distance from anterior clypeal margin to paraoculoclypeal sulcus greater than distance from anterior clypeal margin to frontoclypeal sulcus where antennae insert.

The clypeal area of the head capsule (Figure 2) is medially delimited by the so-called frontoclypeal sulcus that laterally extends from the midline of the head to the front of the antennal socket area. Lateral to the antennae, the boundary delimiting the clypeus from the rest of the head capsule has been referred to as the paraoculoclypeal sulcus (Keller 2011). In most ants, the distance from the anterior margin of the head capsule (including clypeus) to the frontoclypeal sulcus in the area where the antennae attach is greater than the distance from the margin to the paraoculoclypeal sulcus. In the dorylines the clypeus is very narrow and this condition is reversed. Certain Cylindromyrmex and Acanthostichus species have the clypeal sulci poorly visible and the medial area of clypeus is protruding forward over the mandibles, thus creating a considerable distance from the antennal socket area to the anterior margin of head capsule. The distance from the anterior margin of the torulo-posttorular complex to the anterior margin of head, how ever, is always short and thus the clypeus can be still considered laterally narrow in these species.

A relatively narrow clypeus is present in several ant subfamilies, but the condition described above appears to be restricted to the Dorylinae, Martialis, Leptanillinae, Amblyoponinae, and Proceratiinae. I suspect that a thorough study of the clypeal area in the dorylines may reveal new characters of diagnostic or phylogenetic utility within the subfamily.

2. Parafrontal ridges present, i.e. genae carinate laterally of antennal sockets.

Another feature characteristic and likely synapomorphic for the Dorylinae is the presence of often prominent ridges extending some distance back from the paraoculoclypeal sulcus (when visible), laterally to the antennal socket (Figure 2). This feature is present in most doryline species, although it has been reduced several times, for example in Acanthostichus and Cylindromyrmex, Dorylus, and in some species of Aenictus, Simopone and Zasphinctus. This character was considered a synapomorphy of the Cerapachyinae (Brown 1975, Bolton 2003), even though it is well developed in many New World true army ants.

3. Torulo-posttorular complex present, often vertical, occasionally horizontal; antennal sockets exposed or (more rarely) partially concealed by torulo-posttorular complex in full-face view.

Keller (2011) provided much needed clarification of the nomenclature relating to the structures in the antennal socket area in ants. He differentiated frontal carinae from the medial arch of torulus (both structures that arise medially from the antennal socket) and recognized that the relative development and configuration of these structures vary considerably among ants. In the dorylines, the frontal carinae sensu Keller have been interpreted to be present only in their posterior part (called posttorular flanges) and fused to the torular lobe (an expansion of the above-mentioned medial arch of the torulus). This whole structure was named torulo-posttorular complex (Keller 2011). This complex in the dorylines can be vertical and thus forming lobes that in full-face view project towards the observer without obscuring the antennal socket area (Figure 2) or, more rarely (Acanthostichus, Cylindromyrmex, Simopone), horizontal or expanded laterally to conceal the antennal sockets. The distinction among the two conditions is not entirely clear-cut however, as multiple lineages or species of the dorylines possess poorly developed lateral expansions of the torulo-posttorular complex that may conceal parts of the medial area of antennal sockets.

The vertical configuration of the torulo-posttorular complex is characteristic and probably synapomorphic to the Dorylinae. A similar morphology is present in some proceratiines, in particular in Probolomyrmex. Similar configuration exists in the Leptanillinae and in Apomyrma (Amblyoponinae). A horizontally expanded torulo-posttorular complex is also found in the Amblyoponinae (Myopopone).

4. Stipes of maxilla sharply divided into proximal and distal faces, with proximal face extending beyond inner margin of stipes; prementum concealed when mouthparts closed.

The major sclerite of the maxilla, the stipes, is in dorylines sharply divided into a raised proximal face and sunken distal face on its outer surface (Gotwald 1969). The distal face of the stipes accommodates the labrum when the mouthparts are closed and the proximal face is medially expanded beyond the inner margin of the sclerite. When the mouthparts are closed, this condition causes the prementum (the major sclerite of the labium) to be concealed behind the labrum and the medial extension of the proximal face of the stipes. In most worker ants the stipes is not divided into two distinct faces and prementum is visible when mouthparts are closed, although a carina dividing the stipes is present in numerous taxa. Aenictus is an exception among dorylines, as the maxilla in this genus is not divided into two faces and the prementum is visible with mouthparts fully closed. The prementum can also be seen in Cheliomyrmex, where the division of the stipital surface is weakly marked. The division of maxilla into two faces is a likely synapomorphy of the Dorylinae, secondarily lost in Aenictus.

A similar condition has apparently independently evolved in some Amblyoponinae where the prementum is also concealed (Keller 2011).

5. Eyes frequently reduced or absent.

Eyes are poorly developed in most species of the doryline workers, although large and multifaceted eyes are present in a number of lineages. A few speciose lineages lack the eyes completely and without exception in any of the species (e.g. Aenictus, Dorylus), while many other genera are either blind in most species or with very small eyes present (e.g. Acanthostichus, Eciton, Neivamyrmex, Syscia, Ooceraea). Large worker eyes can be present in some or all species of Cerapachys, Chrysapace, Cylindromyrmex, Lioponera, Lividopone, Simopone, Tanipone, and Vicinopone. Many of the species with large eyes are arboreal, but others are surface-foragers or their natural history is unknown.

6. Mesosoma internally with fused meso- and metafurcal arms, externally corresponding to an endophragmal pit.

The mesosoma of the Dorylinae worker ants possess a pit in the cuticle, located anteriorly to the propodeal spiracle and near mesometapleural suture (where present; Figures 2). This pit, known as the mesosomal endophragmal pit, interiorly corresponds to a junction between cuticular projections that serve as muscle attachments (apodemes) and the lateral wall of the mesosoma. The endophragmal pit may not be discernable with light microscopy in species where it is not surrounded by a cuticular concavity, especially in smaller species. In most ants, the apodemes of the second and third thoracic sternites are separate and bifurcated, and called mesofurca and metafurca, respectively. The mesofurca and metafurca thus form two U- or V-shaped structures inside the mesosoma, with their bases directed posteriorly, and the opening of the ‘V’ directed anteriorly. Some distance from their base, the arms of the mesofurca are additionally connected by a transverse bar of cuticle, the mesofurcal bridge. A variation of this scheme occurs when metafurcal arms first diverge and then fuse together; in some ants the mesofurcal arms point sideways and the mesofurcal bridge forms a triangle but mesofurca and metafurca still separate. In the dorylines, this condition appears to be much modified, with the arms of the mesofurca directed laterally instead of anteriorly and fused to the anteriorly-pointing arms of the metafurca. The laterally projecting fused arms of mesofurca and metafurca then attach to the lateral wall of the mesosoma. In larger species this manifests itself as the mesosomal endophragmal pit. As a result of this modification, in the dorylines the ordinarily transverse mesofurcal bridge points backwards to reach the transverse mesofurcal arms. The character system of mesosomal apodemes has not been methodically investigated in ants but Vilhelmsen et al. (2010) studied these structures in other aculeates.

7. Metapleural gland orifice concealed beneath a ventrally directed cuticular flap or flange.

The metapleural gland is a feature found exclusively in ants and is believed to aid in colony sanitation (Yek and Mueller 2011). The gland is internally located in a cuticular chamber at the junction of the metathorax and the propodeum and it opens externally on either side of the mesosoma at a variable distances from the propodeal declivity and above the hind coxae. This metapleural gland orifice and cuticle surrounding it exhibit various modifications in the Formicidae. In the dorylines, the orifice is not visible in dorsal or lateral view because it is overhung by a dorsal flap of cuticle (Figure 2). A similar flap has been reported in Simopelta in the Ponerinae (Keller 2011). A dorsal flange also occurs in the Leptanillinae, but the orifice can still be seen in lateral view. I suspect that a careful study focused on the structures surrounding metapleural gland orifice would reveal additional genus-level diagnostic characters in the Dorylinae.

8. Helcium sternite bulging ventrally and articulated on the inner wall of the tergite.

The helcium is a term used for the presclerites of abdominal segment III. The relative development and place of articulation of the helcial sternite varies in ants. The dorylines exhibit a rare condition where the sternite is well developed and bulging ventrally, not obscured by the tergite in lateral view. The sternite is also articulated to the tergite some distance up on the inner wall of the latter, so that the tergite overlaps the sternite. A ventrally bulging helcial sternite appears to occur only in some Proceratiinae, Tatuidris, and in the Myrmicinae. In the myrmicine ants, however, the articulation of the sternite and the tergite is along the lateral margins, and thus the sclerites are not overlapping. In all other ants the helcial sternite is flat or only slightly convex, not readily visible in lateral view.

9. Abdominal segment III with complete tergosternal fusion.

The degree of fusion of sternites to the tergites of abdominal segments varies in ants (Kusnezov 1955). Bolton (1990b) examined numerous representatives of the Dorylinae (‘the doryline section’) and concluded that in general, the tergite of the abdominal segment III is fused to the sternite in workers and gynes of these ants, although the condition varies in males. Keller (2011) refined this character system by distinguishing whether it is presclerites (helcium) or postsclerites, or both, that are fused. The complete fusion in dorylines is also present in most poneroid ants (most Amblyoponinae, Ponerinae, Proceratiinae) and possibly in Martialis. In the formicoid clade, the fusion occurs in Ectatomminae and in Heteroponerinae. In other subfamilies, either the postsclerites or both pre- and postsclerites of abdominal segment III are unfused.

10. Abdominal segment IV without tergosternal fusion.

Complete fusion of tergites and sternites of abdominal segment IV is rare in ants and apparently restricted to Agroecomyrmecinae, Ponerinae, and Proceratiinae. In other subfamilies the sclerites are unfused or only presclerites exhibit fusion (Bolton 1990b, 2003).

11. Spiracles of abdominal segments V–VII shifted posteriorly on each segment, not concealed by the posterior margin of the preceding tergite and visible without distension or dissection.

This is a character that is a likely synapomorphy of the subfamily and does not appear to occur in any other ants. In most ants the spiracles of abdominal segments I (the propodeum) through IV are visible, but those of abdominal segments V, VI, and VII are ordinarily concealed by the posttergites of their respective preceding segments. These spiracles cannot be thus seen without distension or dissection of the gaster. In the dorylines, however, the spiracles are shifted posteriorly on the posttergites and visible in specimens without any manipulation (Figures 2). The exposed spiracles are obvious even in species where the size of the distal abdominal segments has been substantially reduced, such as in Ooceraea.

12. Pygidium modified: either large and with dorsum flattened and armed with teeth or spines, or reduced to a narrow V-shaped sclerite.

In general, the pygidium (last visible abdominal tergite) is derived in the dorylines, departing from a condition of a large, evenly rounded sclerite that is presumed to be plesiomorphic for ants. The degree and nature of the modification varies, however. In many genera previously classified under the Cerapachyinae the pygidium has a flattened medial area and is armed with thick, specialized setae that are thought to have sensory function (Hölldobler 1982). Occasionally the tip of pygidium is also forked, with a prong of variable length along each side of the sting. In Dorylus the pygidium also has a flattened disc but it is never armed with numerous modified setae, instead possessing two to four cuticular spines that are tipped with one thick seta each. In Aenictus, Eciton and other New World army ants, as well as in Leptanilloides, the pygidium is modified into a very narrow transverse sclerite that is not armed with any modified spines or setae. A pair or two of thick setae can be, however, present in some New World army ants. Worker Aenictogiton is an exception among the Dorylinae, as the pygidium in this genus is large and simple, evenly rounded and without armament of cuticular projections or spine-like setae.

13. Sting apparatus with furcula fused to base of sting or absent in most species.

The furcula is a Y- or wishbone-shaped sclerite flexibly attached at the base of the sting (Snodgrass 1984), present in most ants but apparently fused to the sting base in all Dorylinae examined thus far except Leptanilloides (Brandão et al. 1999a). In the Aneuretinae, Dolichoderinae, and Formicinae the furcula is also reduced or fused and in Simopelta, a ponerine genus with army ant-like habits, this sclerite is also fused to the sting base. The furcula serves as the attachment for muscles responsible for protraction of the sting (Hermann and Chao 1983). These muscles connect directly to the anterior region of the sting bulb in the dorylines where furcula was observed to be fused with the sting (Hermann and Blum 1967, Hermann 1969). It is unclear whether the fusion of furcula and sting is a synapomorphy of the Dorylinae that has reverted to the unfused state in Leptanilloides or whether the fusion evolved more than once in the subfamily. A comprehensive and comparative study of the doryline sting is lacking. The sting apparatus appears generally functional and capable of piercing human skin, as in Eciton, but more rarely it can be non-functional as a weapon, as in Dorylus (Hermann 1969, Bolton 1990b). The sting been described in varying detail in the army ant genera Aenictus, Cheliomyrmex, Dorylus, Eciton, Labidus, Neivamyrmex, and Nomamyrmex (Hermann and Blum 1967, Hermann 1969) and in a few non-army ant species including Leptanilloides (Brandão et al. 1999a), Acanthostichus, Lioponera, Syscia, and Zasphinctus (Hermann 1969).

14. Metacoxal cavities fully closed, without a suture in the broad annulus.

The morphology of the cuticle surrounding the sockets where hind coxae articulate (the coxal cavities) varies among ants. The primitive condition is presumably one where the cavities are not fully surrounded by the cuticle (the annulus) and the cavities are connected to the petiolar foramen. This condition is present in Myrmeciinae, Aneuretinae, Platythyrea in the Ponerinae, and Ectatomminae. A modification of this state occurs where the annulus surrounds the cavities, so that the cuticle is continuous around the openings, although a suture can be discerned where the outgrowths of the cuticle closing the foramen meet. This state is present in some Amblyoponinae, most Ponerinae, some Heteroponerinae, Paraponera, and some Proceratiinae. Finally, the cuticle can be entirely fused and no suture is visible in the cuticle surrounding coxal cavities. This is the condition observed in the Dorylinae. This character state is common among the subfamilies of the formicoid clade, including Dolichoderinae, Formicinae, Myrmicinae, Pseudomyrmecinae, and some Heteroponerinae (Bolton 2003). The cavities are also fully closed and without a suture in some taxa outside the formicoids, namely in the Leptanillinae, Martialis, some Amblyoponinae, Agroecomyrmecinae, few Ponerinae, and some Proceratiinae.

15. Metatibial gland present, located distally on the ventral surface of hind tibia.

Multiple ant lineages have been found to possess a glandular structure on the ventral (flexor) surface of their hind tibiae (Hölldobler et al. 1996). Given our current understanding of ant phylogeny (e.g. Brady et al. 2006), it is likely that these metatibial glands have evolved more than once. Bolton (1990b) recognized the presence of this gland as characteristic of most dorylines and described the variations in its external manifestation within the subfamily. In some taxa the presence of metatibial gland can be detected only with histological examination, and externally its visibility in very small-bodied species can sometimes be confirmed only through scanning electron microscopy (Borowiec and Longino 2011). The gland is externally visible in most doryline genera and is conspicuous in most true army ants except Nomamyrmex, where it is entirely absent, at least externally. Other genera apparently lacking obvious metatibial glands are Chrysapace, Eusphinctus, Lividopone, Simopone, Sphinctomyrmex, Tanipone, and Vicinopone. The metatibial gland is also apparently absent in a few species of Acanthostichus, Lioponera, Neivamyrmex, and Zasphinctus. Most Simopone possess a well-developed gland on the inner surface of hind basitarsus but no gland on the tibia. Syscia possess both the metatibial and metabasitarsal glands, the latter of different appearance and apparently independent origin from the one found in Simopone.

Glands on the hind tibiae also occur in the Ponerinae (Schmidt and Shattuck 2014), as well as in a few Amblyoponinae and Myrmicinae, although in all these cases the glandular surfaces are positioned differently than in the Dorylinae, suggesting convergence.

Several Dorylinae genera are lacking externally visible metatibial glands and there has been no comprehensive histological study of all the lineages. Given this, coupled with unresolved relationships among most lineages of the subfamily, it is somewhat uncertain whether this character is a synapomorphy of the whole clade or if it is primitively absent from early-branching lineages.

Despite its presence in some of the better-studied species (true army ants, Ooceraea biroi), the function of the gland in the Dorylinae is unknown (Billen 2009).


Borowiec 2016. Figure 3
Borowiec 2016. Figure 4

1. Abdominal sternite IX (hypopygium) modified, bidentate to biaculeate. 1. Abdominal sternite IX (hypopygium) modified, bidentate to biaculeate.

The appearance of the abdominal sternite IX of the male is distinctive in the Dorylinae. A simple sclerite with convex or medially tapered posterior margin appears to be the plesiomorphic condition, present in most ants. In the dorylines the hypopygium often has a convex posterior margin and is laterally drawn into two processes, ranging from blunt triangular denticles to long, parallel prongs. Occasionally further modifications, including folds, excisions, and additional teeth are also present on the hypopygium. In some lineages the male hypopygium is useful for species identification. Leptanilloides is again the exception, and the sclerite in this lineage is relatively simple, sometimes medially convex or concave. Outside of the Dorylinae, a biaculeate male hypopygium is present in at least two genera, Paraponera and Nothomyrmecia.

2. Cerci absent from male genitalia.

The cerci (also called pygostyles) are paired sensory structures articulating with the last abdominal tergite. Most male ants have cerci but their loss has occurred several times independently, in Leptanillinae, Martialis, some Amblyoponinae, and some Proceratiinae (Boudinot 2015). The Dorylinae is the largest clade of ants where male cerci appear to be absent from all species. This character was important for the early recognition of a close relationship of Acanthostichus and other ‘cerapachyines’ with the true army ants (Emery 1895).

3. Genitalia completely retractile.

The doryline males are able to retract their genital capsule into the abdomen. In other ant taxa, even those that also lack cerci, the genitalia cannot be completely retracted. The genitalia of true army ants are always well-concealed in dead specimens and not visible without dissection. The genitalia of other, particularly smaller dorylines, however, can be partially visible in dead males. The small-sized males of Leptanilloides may be an exception among the dorylines, as the known specimens have exerted genitalia, with most of the genital capsule visible without artificial distension or dissection of the abdomen. The abdomen of some Leptanilloides species also appears too small to allow for full retraction of the genital capsule.

4. Jugal lobe absent from hindwing.

The jugal lobe is a basally located projection of the wing membrane. Bolton (2003) recognized that its presence varies in the hind wing of alate ants. He cites this character as highly polymorphic in the poneromorph subfamilies, absent in the Leptanillinae and the formicoid subfamilies.