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Temporal range: 37.2–0 Ma
Eocene – Recent
Plagiolepis pygmaea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Plagiolepidini
Genus: Plagiolepis
Mayr, 1861
Type species
Formica pygmaea, now Plagiolepis pygmaea
78 species
10 fossil species
(Species Checklist)

Plagiolepis pygmaea casent0173129 profile 1.jpg

Plagiolepis pygmaea

Plagiolepis pygmaea casent0173129 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Evolutionary Relationships

  (2 genera)

  (10 genera)

  (9 genera)

  (8 genera)

Gesomyrmex, Oecophylla


  (14 species)

  (18 species)

  (1 species)

  (1 species)

  (134 species)

  (41 species)

  (2 species)

Gigantiops, Myrmoteras, Santschiella

  (8 genera)

Based on Ward et al. 2016.

Hita Garcia, Wiesel and Fischer (2013) - A moderate sized genus with 57 valid species (Bolton, 2012). These ants are restricted to the tropical and temperate regions of the Old World (Robertson, 2000). No modern revision or a key to species exist, which is a serious obstacle for the identification of Plagiolepis species. Very little is known about their biology; they are small formicines nesting on trees, rotten wood, twigs, or in the soil (Bolton, 1973a).

Photo Gallery

  • Worker. Photo by Michal Kukla.
  • Queen. Photo by Michal Kukla.


Keys including this Genus


Keys to Species in this Genus


Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


These ants are easily overlooked owing to the number of minute and similarly coloured species of Iridomyrmex, Tapinoma, Bothriomyrmex or Nylanderia encountered almost everywhere in the Australian bush. (Wheeler 1934)



Worker Morphology

 • Antennal segment count 11 • Antennal club absent-gradual, weak • Palp formula 6,4 • Total dental count 5-6 • Spur formula 0, 0 • Eyes present • Scrobes absent • Caste at least one species polymorphic • Sting absent


Species Uncertain

  • 2n = 18 (Indonesia) (Imai et al., 1985).
  • 2n = 18 (Malaysia) (Imai et al., 1983).

All Records for Genus

Taxon Haploid Diploid Karyotype Locality Source Notes
Plagiolepis 18 Indonesia Imai et al., 1985
Plagiolepis 18 Malaysia Imai et al., 1983
Plagiolepis pygmaea 9 18 Croatia; Spain; Switzerland Hauschteck-Jungen & Jungen, 1983
Plagiolepis pygmaea 9 18 14M+2SM+2ST Spain Palomeque et al., 1993a
Plagiolepis schmitzii 9 18 Tunisia Hauschteck-Jungen & Jungen, 1983 as ''Plagiolepis barbara''
Plagiolepis schmitzii 9 18 12M+2A+2T Spain Palomeque et al., 1990b; Palomeque et al., 1993a as ''Plagiolepis barbara''


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

  • PLAGIOLEPIS [Formicinae: Plagiolepidini]
    • Plagiolepis Mayr, 1861: 42. Type-species: Formica pygmaea, by monotypy.
    • Plagiolepis senior synonym of Aporomyrmex, Paraplagiolepis: Bolton, 1994: 51.
    • Plagiolepis senior synonym of †Rhopalomyrmex: Dlussky, 1997: 59.
    • Plagiolepis senior synonym of Anacantholepis: Bolton, 2003: 105, 268.
  • ANACANTHOLEPIS [junior synonym of Plagiolepis]
    • Anacantholepis Santschi, 1914e: 36 [as subgenus of Plagiolepis]. Type-species: Plagiolepis (Anacantholepis) decora, by original designation.
    • Anacantholepis raised to genus: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 212.
    • Anacantholepis junior synonym of Plagiolepis: Bolton, 2003: 105, 268.
  • APOROMYRMEX [junior synonym of Plagiolepis]
    • Aporomyrmex Faber, 1969: 52. Type-species: Aporomyrmex ampeloni, by original designation.
    • Aporomyrmex junior synonym of Plagiolepis: Bolton, 1994: 51.
  • PARAPLAGIOLEPIS [junior synonym of Plagiolepis]
    • Paraplagiolepis Faber, 1969: 65 [as subgenus of Plagiolepis]. Type-species: Plagiolepis xene, by monotypy.
    • Paraplagiolepis junior synonym of Plagiolepis: Bolton, 1994: 51.
  • RHOPALOMYRMEX [junior synonym of Plagiolepis]
    • Rhopalomyrmex Mayr, 1868c: 41. Type-species: †Rhopalomyrmex pygmaeus, by monotypy.
    • Rhopalomyrmex junior synonym of Plagiolepis: Dlussky, 1997: 59.


  • Agosti, D. 1991. Revision of the oriental ant genus Cladomyrma, with an outline of the higher classification of the Formicinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Syst. Entomol. 16: 293-310 PDF (page 296, Plagiolepis in Formicinae, Pseudolasius genus group)
  • Arnold, G. 1920a. A monograph of the Formicidae of South Africa. Part IV. Myrmicinae. Ann. S. Afr. Mus. 14: 403-578 (page 578, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • 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 384, Plagiolepis in Formicinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Bolton, B. 1994. Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 222 pp. (page 51, Synonymy of Aporomyrmex and Paraplagiolepis confirmed.)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 105, Plagiolepis in Formicinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Bondroit, J. 1918. Les fourmis de France et de Belgique. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 87: 1-174 (page 18, Plagiolepis in Formicinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1973b. A comparison of the Hylean and Congo-West African rain forest ant faunas. Pp. 161-185 in: Meggers, B. J., Ayensu, E. S., Duckworth, W. D. (eds.) Tropical forest ecosystems in Africa and South America: a comparative review. Wash (page 178, Plagiolepis provisional senior synonym of Anacantholepis, Aporomyrmex and Paraplagiolepis.)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 172, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae)
  • Dlussky, G. M. 1997a. Genera of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Baltic amber. Paleontol. Zh. 6: 50-62 (page 59, Plagiolepis senior synonym of *Rhopalomyrmex)
  • Dlussky, G.M. 2010. Ants of the genus Plagiolepis Mayr (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from Late Eocene ambers of Europe. Paleontological Journal, 44, 546–555.
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 771, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Emery, C. 1925d. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Formicinae. Genera Insectorum 183: 1-302 (page 19, Plagiolepis in Formicinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Emery, C.; Forel, A. 1879. Catalogue des Formicides d'Europe. Mitt. Schweiz. Entomol. Ges. 5: 441-481 (page 453, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae [Camponotidae])
  • Forel, A. 1878c. Études myrmécologiques en 1878 (première partie) avec l'anatomie du gésier des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 15: 337-392 (page 378, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae [Camponotidae])
  • Forel, A. 1886h. Études myrmécologiques en 1886. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 30: 131-215 (page 212, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Forel, A. 1893b. Sur la classification de la famille des Formicides, avec remarques synonymiques. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 37: 161-167 (page 165, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Forel, A. 1912j. Formicides néotropiques. Part VI. 5me sous-famille Camponotinae Forel. Mém. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 20: 59-92 (page 88, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 249, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Mayr, G. 1861. Die europäischen Formiciden. Nach der analytischen Methode bearbeitet. Wien: C. Gerolds Sohn, 80 pp. (page 42, Plagiolepis as genus; Plagiolepis in Formicinae [Formicinae])
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 652, Plagiolepis in Formicinae [Formicidae])
  • 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 7, Plagiolepis in Formicinae [Formicidae])
  • Mayr, G. 1868c. Die Ameisen des baltischen Bernsteins. Beitr. Naturkd. Preuss. 1: 1-102 (page 36, Plagiolepis in Formicinae [Formicidae])
  • Santschi, F. 1926a. Trois notes myrmécologiques. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 95: 13-28 (page 14, Plagiolepis in Formicinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 143, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1915i [1914]. The ants of the Baltic Amber. Schr. Phys.-Ökon. Ges. Königsb. 55: 1-142 (page 100, Plagiolepis in Camponotinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • 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 696, Plagiolepis in Formicinae, Plagiolepidini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1934d. Contributions to the fauna of Rottnest Island, Western Australia. No. IX. The ants. J. R. Soc. West. Aust. 20: 137-163.