Smith, D.J. & Shattuck, 2009
Leptomyrmex pilosus is restricted to rainforest to the west of Cape Tribulation, Queensland.
Palps elongated, extending well beyond the posterior margin of the head capsule. Antennal scapes elongated (SI greater than 170) and extending beyond the vertex of the head by about half their length. Distinctive abundant pilosity consisting of shorter adpressed and longer decumbent hairs. Morphologically it is similar to Leptomyrmex aitchisoni but is readily distinguished by the abundant pilosity on all surfaces. (Smith and Shattuck 2009)
Identification Keys including this Taxon
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
Distribution based on AntMaps
Distribution based on AntWeb specimens
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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.
- pilosus. Leptomyrmex pilosus Smith, D.J. & Shattuck, 2009: 63, figs. 13-15, 19, 20, 22 (w.) AUSTRALIA.
- Holotype, worker, 3.0km W Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia, Monteith,G.B., ANIC32-023631, Australian National Insect Collection.
- Paratype, 2 workers, 3.0km W Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia, Australian Museum.
- Paratype, 2 workers, 3.0km W Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia, Australian National Insect Collection.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
Vertex of head weakly convex to flat, corners rounded, sides of the head almost straight, head widest at mid-length. Scape relatively short, surpassing the vertex by about half its length. Palps long, extending to near the posterior of the head capsule. Medial hypostoma distinctly notched. Anterior mesonotum without a raised anterior region. Legs long. Hind tibial spur with reduced barbules, absent from basal 1/5th. Scale present, ridged and with a distinct angle dorsally, in profile bluntly angular, weakly inclined anteriorly, anterior and posterior faces of the scale approximately equal in length. Abundant relatively long appressed yellowish pubescence on mesosoma and gaster, pubescence short adpressed and long decumbent on head and antennal scapes.
(n = 7) -CI 78–80; EL 0.20–0.23; HL 0.91–0.98; HW 0.72–0.77; MTL 0.93–1.04; SI 171–175; SL 1.25–1.32; WL 1.43–1.53.
- Lucky, A. 2011. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of the spider ants, genus Leptomyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59: 281-292. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.03.004
- Lucky, A. & Ward, P.S. 2010. Taxonomic revision of the ant genus Leptomyrmex Mayr. Zootaxa 2688: 1-67. PDF
- Smith, D. J. and S. O. Shattuck. 2009. Six new, unusually small ants of the genus Leptomyrmex(Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 2142: 57-68. PDF