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Myrmecia gulosa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmeciinae
Tribe: Myrmeciini
Genus: Myrmecia
Fabricius, 1804
Type species
Formica gulosa, now Myrmecia gulosa
93 species
(Species Checklist)

Myrmecia gulosa casent0103310 profile 1.jpg

Myrmecia gulosa

Myrmecia gulosa casent0103310 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


Heterick (2009) - Myrmecia are principally predators, but also garner nectar and plant juices (Shattuck 1999). The sting of at least some of these species can be dangerous, even life threatening to people who have a sensitivity to hymenopteran (i.e. bee, ant and wasp) venoms (Street et al. 1994).


This genus has been divided into a number of species groups.  

Keys to Species in this Genus


Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


Human Health Concerns

The stings of one species group of Myrmecia (the M. pilosula group) can cause a strong anaphylactic reaction in some people. The severity of this reaction can develop over time, with initial stings causing no particular reaction while subsequent stings can have serious consequences. People with known sensitivities to these ants often carry an EpiPen or similar device to counteract the affects of a sting.


Myrmecia queen.jpg

Myrmecia queen.

Queen-worker dimorphism in size is moderate to pronounced, according to species (Peeters 1997). Several species deviate from the norm with brachypterous (i.e. short-winged) queens that disperse on foot (Clark 1951). Other species have ergatoid (permanently wingless) queens (e.g. Haskins & Haskins 1955). Gamergates (mated, egg-laying workers) were found in one colony of Myrmecia pyriformis that was collected without the dealate queen (Dietemann et al. 2004), but a larger sample of colonies needs to be studied.

In Myrmecia gulosa, 14 colonies contained an average of 992 +/- 551 workers (average+/-standard deviation, range 134–1859), and usually one dealate queen. Workers are polymorphic in size (14-23 mm, from tip of mandibles to gaster end), and this is associated with differences in ovariole numbers (Dietemann et al. 2002). Queens are not much larger than the major workers, but have disproportionately more ovarioles and a 10-fold higher egg-laying rate. (See References.)

Ovarian differences in the queen (left), major (bottom right) and minor workers of Myrmecia gulosa.


Myrmecia gracilis larva collected by Bede Lowery

Wheeler and Wheeler describe the larvae of several species of Myrmecia in 1971.


Worker Morphology

 • Antennal segment count 12 • Antennal club absent • Palp formula 6,4 • Total dental count 9-18 • Spur formula 2 pectinate, 2 pectinate; 2 (1 simple-barbulate, 1 barbulate-pectinate), 2 simple, 2 (1 simple, 1 pectinate); 2 simple, 2 (1 simple, 1 pectinate) • Eyes present • Scrobes absent • Sting present


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

  • MYRMECIA [Myrmeciinae: Myrmeciini]
    • Myrmecia Fabricius, 1804: 423. Type-species: Formica gulosa, by subsequent designation of Shuckard, in Swainson & Shuckard, 1840: 173.
    • Myrmecia senior synonym of Promyrmecia (and its junior synonyms Halmamyrmecia, Pristomyrmecia): Brown, 1953c: 1.
  • HALMAMYRMECIA [junior synonym of Myrmecia]
    • Halmamyrmecia Wheeler, W.M. 1922b: 195 [as subgenus of Myrmecia]. Type-species: Myrmecia pilosula, by original designation.
    • Halmamyrmecia junior synonym of Promyrmecia: Clark, 1927: 37; Clark, 1951: 119.
    • Halmamyrmecia junior synonym of Myrmecia: Brown, 1953j: 1.
  • PRISTOMYRMECIA [junior synonym of Myrmecia]
    • Pristomyrmecia Emery, 1911d: 21 [as subgenus of Myrmecia]. Type-species: Myrmecia mandibularis, by original designation.
    • Pristomyrmecia junior synonym of Promyrmecia: Clark, 1927: 37; Clark, 1951: 119.
    • Pristomyrmecia junior synonym of Myrmecia: Brown, 1953j: 1.
  • PROMYRMECIA [junior synonym of Myrmecia]
    • Promyrmecia Emery, 1911d: 19 [as subgenus of Myrmecia]. Type-species: Myrmecia aberrans, by original designation.
    • Promyrmecia raised to genus: Clark, 1943: 84.
    • Promyrmecia senior synonym of Halmamyrmecia, Pristomyrmecia: Clark, 1927: 37; Clark, 1943: 84; Clark, 1951: 119.
    • Promyrmecia junior synonym of Myrmecia: Brown, 1953j: 1.



  • Ashmead, W. H. 1905c. A skeleton of a new arrangement of the families, subfamilies, tribes and genera of the ants, or the superfamily Formicoidea. Can. Entomol. 37: 381-384 (page 382, Myrmecia in Poneridae, Myrmeciinae)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 132, Myrmecia in Myrmeciinae, Myrmeciini)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1953c. Characters and synonymies among the genera of ants. Part I. Breviora 11: 1-13 (page 1, Myrmecia senior synonym of Promyrmecia (and its junior synonyms Halmamyrmecia, Pristomyrmecia).)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1953j. Revisionary notes on the ant genus Myrmecia of Australia. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 111: 1-35 (page 1, Revision of genus)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1954e. Remarks on the internal phylogeny and subfamily classification of the family Formicidae. Insectes Soc. 1: 21-31 (page 23, Myrmecia in Myrmeciinae)
  • Clark, J. 1934c. Ants from the Otway Ranges. Mem. Natl. Mus. Vic. 8: 48-73 (page 50, Myrmecia in Ponerinae, Myrmeciini)
  • Clark, J. 1943. A revision of the genus Promyrmecia Emery (Formicidae). Mem. Natl. Mus. Vic. 13: 83-149 (page 83, Revision of genus)
  • Clark, J. 1951. The Formicidae of Australia. Vol. 1. Subfamily Myrmeciinae. Melbourne: CSIRO, 230 pp. (page 16, Myrmecia in Myrmeciinae (in key))
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 19, Myrmecia in Ponerinae)
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1943g. A list of the type-species of the genera and subgenera of the Formicidae. [part]. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 11(10): 617-688 (page 665, Myrmecia in Ponerinae, Myrmeciini)
  • Emery, C. 1877b. Saggio di un ordinamento naturale dei Mirmicidei, e considerazioni sulla filogenesi delle formiche. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 9: 67-83 (page 81, Myrmecia in Myrmicidae, Myrmeciidae)
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 766, Myrmecia in Ponerinae, Myrmeciini [Myrmecii])
  • Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 17, Myrmecia in Ponerinae, Myrmeciini)
  • Fabricius, J. C. 1804. Systema Piezatorum secundum ordines, genera, species, adjectis synonymis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus. Brunswick: C. Reichard, xiv + 15-439 + 30 pp. (page 423, Myrmecia as genus)
  • Forel, A. 1893b. Sur la classification de la famille des Formicides, avec remarques synonymiques. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 37: 161-167 (page 162, Myrmecia in Ponerinae, Myrmeciini [Myrmecii])
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 235, Myrmecia in Ponerinae, Myrmeciini)
  • Heterick, B. E. 2009. A guide to the ants of South-western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 76:1-206. 'PDF
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 714, Myrmecia in Ponerinae [Poneridae])
  • Mayr, G. 1865. Formicidae. In: Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte "Novara" um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859. Zoologischer Theil. Bd. II. Abt. 1. Wien: K. Gerold's Sohn, 119 pp. (page 18, Myrmecia in Myrmicinae [Myrmicidae])
  • Mayr, G. 1866b. Diagnosen neuer und wenig gekannter Formiciden. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 16: 885-908 (page 896, Myrmecia in Myrmicinae [Myrmicidae])
  • Ogata, K. 1991a. Ants of the genus Myrmecia Fabricius: a review of the species groups and their phylogenetic relationships (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmeciinae). Syst. Entomol. 16: 353-381 (page 353, Revision of genus)
  • Ogata, K.; Taylor, R. W. 1991. Ants of the genus Myrmecia Fabricius: a preliminary review and key to the named species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmeciinae). J. Nat. Hist. 2 25: 1623-1673 (page 1623, Revision of genus)
  • Smith, F. 1858a. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 143, Myrmecia in Poneridae, Myrmicidae)
  • Swainson W.; Shuckard, W. E. 1840. On the history and natural arrangement of insects. London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longman's, 406 pp. (page 173, Type-species: Formica gulosa, by subsequent designation)
  • [1] Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1971d. Ant larvae of the subfamily Myrmeciinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pan-Pac. Entomol. 47: 245-256
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 134, Myrmecia in Ponerinae, Myrmeciini [Myrmecii])
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 640, Myrmecia in Ponerinae, Myrmeciini)

Caste References

  • CLARK, J. 1951. The Formicidae of Australia. Vol. 1. Subfamily Myrmeciinae. CSIRO, Melbourne, 230 pp.
  • DIETEMANN, V., HOELLDOBLER, B. & PEETERS, C. 2002. Caste specialization and differentiation in reproductive potential in the phylogenetically primitive ant Myrmecia gulosa. Insectes Sociaux 49: 289-298.
  • DIETEMANN, V., PEETERS, C. & HOELLDOBLER, B. 2004. Gamergates in the Australian ant subfamily Myrmeciinae. Naturwissenschaften 91: 432-435.
  • HASKINS, C. & HASKINS, E. 1955. The pattern of colony foundation in the archaic ant Myrmecia regularis. Insectes Sociaux 2: 115-126.
  • PEETERS, C. 1997. Morphologically “primitive” ants: comparative review of social characters, and the importance of queen-worker dimorphism. pp. 372-391 In: Choe, J. & B. Crespi (eds) The Evolution of Social Behavior in Insects and Arachnids. Cambridge University Press.