Leptomyrmex aitchisoni

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Leptomyrmex aitchisoni
Leptomyrmex aitchisoni
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Genus: Leptomyrmex
Species: L. aitchisoni
Binomial name
Leptomyrmex aitchisoni
Smith, D.J. & Shattuck, 2009

Leptomyrmex aitchisoni side view

Leptomyrmex aitchisoni top view

Specimen labels

This is a relatively common and widespread species in north-eastern NSW and south-eastern Queensland. It is found in a range of forest habitats from wet sclerophyll to rainforest, where it nests under stones.


Head relatively elongate (CI less than 79); antennal scape relatively long (SI > 170) and extending beyond the vertex of the head by greater than half their length; pilosity short adpressed hairs; palps relatively short, failing to reach the posterior of the head capsule. (Smith and Shattuck 2009)

Identification Keys including this Taxon


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


These conspicuous ants are most often encountered individually or as small groups of 2 or 3 foragers on the surface of the ground any time of the day or night. Because of their long legs and thin bodies, they superficially resemble spiders. This is especially true when they are disturbed, as they extend their legs, raise their gasters, and run quickly to escape danger. This has led to their being given the common name "spider ants."

Nests are found in soil or in dead wood, either standing or on the ground, and are often at the base of trees. Colony sizes average a few hundred workers and a single queen. In all but a handful of species, the queen is wingless and worker-like, differing from workers only in being slightly larger and with an enlarged mesosoma. In a few species the queens are fully winged, as they are in most other ants.

When a large source of food is found, workers of Leptomyrmex will return to their nest and recruit additional workers to help utilise the newly found resource. They also use workers as "living storage vessels". These special workers, called repletes, accept liquids from returning foragers who transfer their liquid foods to these selected workers. These special workers continue to accept liquids until their gasters become greatly enlarged and extended. When enlarged, repletes cannot escape the nest and remain inside suspended from the ceiling. They can retain these fluids for extended periods and dispense it on demand when food is in short supply.



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • aitchisoni. Leptomyrmex aitchisoni Smith, D.J. & Shattuck, 2009: 59, figs. 1-3, 19-21 (w.) AUSTRALIA.

Type Material

  • Leptomyrmex aitchinsoni: Holotype, worker, Doubleduke State Forest, MacFaydens Rd., 1.2km E junction with Range Road, New South Wales, Australia, Australian Museum.
  • Leptomyrmex aitchinsoni: Paratype, 4 worker, Doubleduke State Forest, MacFaydens Rd., 1.2km E junction with Range Road, New South Wales, Australia, Australian Museum.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Vertex of head flat to weakly concave, corners rounded, sides of head almost straight, head widest at the midlength. Scape long, surpassing the vertex by distinctly more than half their length. Medial hypostoma distinctly notched. Palps relatively short, extending about ¾ of the length of the head capsule, formula 6:4. Mesonotum without a raised anterior region, propodeum with short dorsum. Legs long. Hind tibial spurs with reduced barbules (barbules shorter than the width of the shaft), absent from basal ¼. Scale present, ridged with a distinct angle dorsally, in profile moderately angular, strongly inclined anteriorly, anterior and posterior faces about equal in length. Head, mandibles and mesosoma uniformly light to dark brown in colour, legs and antennae paler, gaster darker.

Measurements. Worker (n = 63) - CI 65–74; EL 0.17–0.25; HL 0.79–0.96; HW 0.56–0.65; MTL 0.71–1.08; SI 197–216; SL 1.12–1.32; WL 1.20–1.58.


This species has been named after Mr. Ron Aitchison. Mr. Ray Huetter sponsored this patronymic through the Australian Museum’s Immortals Project.