Acanthostichus brevicornis

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Acanthostichus brevicornis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Acanthostichus
Species: A. brevicornis
Binomial name
Acanthostichus brevicornis
Emery, 1894

Acanthostichus brevicornis casent0173500 profile 1.jpg

Acanthostichus brevicornis casent0173500 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


This is the most commonly encountered species of Acanthostichus. It has been found under cow manure together with termites (Bruch, 1924) and is known to be a termite predator (Bruch, 1925). Mann (1916) found a small colony under a deeply imbedded stone.


A member of the brevicornis species complex. Mackay (1996) - The workers of this species can be distinguished from others in that the femur is very broad, the petiole is subquadrate, usually with a strongly concave anterior face. It can be differentiated from Acanthostichus femoralis and Acanthostichus sanchezorum in that the propodeal spiracle is positioned at the midline, not above midline as in the other two species. It is similar to Acanthostichus kirbyi (and other related species, see discussion of A. kirbyi), from which it can be distinguished as the dorsum of the petiole is often punctate, with elongate depressions, the anterior face is not strongly thickened, the lateral clypeal teeth are poorly developed and the femur is not incrassate in A. kirbyi. The male can usually be distinguished from other species as it has an elongate petiole, is small and is without bluish reflections (see key).

A Paraguay collection differs from the “typical” A. brevicornis in being strongly dimorphic, increasing the range of worker size. Additionally the anterior face of the petiole is nearly straight as seen from above.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 18.77° to -31.632389°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Brazil, French Guiana (type locality), Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


Mackay (2004) - A Paraguay collection was found nesting in the soil in grazed second growth vegetation. This species is not uncommon in that collection locality. Alex Wild (personal communication) saw it several times under logs and near the surface of the soil where he was digging. It was always found in disturbed habitats, e.g., grazed areas, lawns, nesting in red clay soil.



Images from AntWeb

Acanthostichus brevicornis casent0246290 h 1 high.jpgAcanthostichus brevicornis casent0246290 p 1 high.jpgAcanthostichus brevicornis casent0246290 d 1 high.jpgAcanthostichus brevicornis casent0246290 l 1 high.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0246290. Photographer Carolina I. Paris, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences.


Mackay 1996. Figures 11-33.
Mackay 1996. Figures 34-49.

The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • brevicornis. Acanthostichus brevicornis Emery, 1894c: 142 (w.) FRENCH GUIANA.
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: French Guiana: Cayenne (Jelski).
    • Type-depository: MSNG.
    • Mackay, 2004: 98 (q.).
    • Combination in A. (Acanthostichus): Emery, 1911d: 13.
    • Status as species: Forel, 1895b: 140; Emery, 1895j: 752; Emery, 1911d: 13; Mann, 1916: 401; Borgmeier, 1923: 51; Wheeler, W.M. 1934g: 162 (in key); Kusnezov, 1953b: 339; Kusnezov, 1962a: 130; Kempf, 1972a: 10; Brown, 1975: 42; Bolton, 1995b: 54; Mackay, 1996: 144 (redescription); Mackay, 2004: 98; Wild, 2007b: 23.
    • Senior synonym of ramosmexiae: Kusnezov, 1962a: 130; Kempf, 1972a: 10; Brown, 1975: 42; Bolton, 1995b: 54; Mackay, 1996: 144.
    • Distribution: Brazil, Argentina, French Guiana.
  • ramosmexiae. Acanthostichus ramosmexiae Bruch, 1924b: 260, fig. (w.) ARGENTINA (Santa Fe).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated, “about 80”).
    • Type-locality: Argentina: Santa Fe, Fives Lille, “La Criolla”, end of x., under dry cow manure (Bruch & Weiser).
    • [Note: type-locality not Argentina: Santa Fe, Rosario (J. Hubrich). This was the collection from which the male was subsequently described (Bruch, 1925a: 112), wrongly regarded as the type-series by Mackay, 1996: 146; this series deposited in MACN.]
    • Type-depository: MLPA.
    • Bruch, 1925a: 112 (m.l.).
    • Status as species: Bruch, 1925a: 110; Santschi, 1934c: 23.
    • Junior synonym of brevicornis: Kusnezov, 1962a: 130; Kempf, 1972a: 10; Brown, 1975: 42; Bolton, 1995b: 54; Mackay, 1996: 144.

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



Mackay (1996) - HL 0.74-0.96, HW 0.66-0.76, SL 0.31-0.38, WL 1.19-1.24, PW 0.35-0.40, PL 0.36-0.43, SI 39-42, CI 79-90, PI 100-106.

Mandible with only apical tooth developed; anterior medial border of clypeus concave, lateral clypeal teeth poorly developed; frontal carinae poorly developed, closely placed; head elongate, occipital border concave; petiole quadrate, anterior border strongly concave (Fig. 19), subpetiolar process a broadly rounded lobe (Fig. 20); femur flattened and incrassate (Fig. 43). Surface of body smooth and glossy (including scapes, dorsum of meso soma and dorsum of petiole).

Mackay (2004) - Additional measurements (n = 3): HL 0.71-1.07, HW 0.56-0.82, SL 0.30-0.40, SW 0.11-0.18, EL 0.04-0.06, WL 0.92-1.46, PL 0.29-0.47, PW 0.29-0.46, SI 37-42, CI 76-90, PI 100-106, SL/SW 2.20-2.73.


Mackay (2004) - HL 1.02, HW 1.01, SL 0.43, SW 0.19, EL 0.18, WL 1.67, PL 0.62, PW 0.83, Sl 42, CI 99, PI 50, SL/SW 2.25.

Subdichthadiiform, mandible without teeth (Fig. 6); anterior border of clypeus concave (Fig. 5); frontal carinae closely spaced, posterior border of head concave, sides of head rounded; malar groove poorly developed, extending from base of mandible slightly more than 0.1 mm, remainder of groove marked by very slight indentation; scape thickened; eye large, but failing to reach side of head by about ½ minimum diameter; ocelli absent; mesosoma basically rectangular as seen from side (Fig. 9), and as seen from above; promesonotal suture poorly developed, metanotal suture marked on dorsum of mesosoma; propodeal spiracle placed above midline (Fig. 9), propodeum rounded between faces; subpetiolar process absent (Fig. 9), petiole wider than long as seen from above, slightly wider posteriorly (Fig. 8); posterior femur slightly widened (Fig. 7), much less so than that of worker; pygidium without spines.

Erect hairs sparse; few hairs along anterior border of clypeus, and on mandible, along frontal carina, dorsum of head, posterior margin of head, dorsum of mesosoma, and legs; hairs on posterior face of propodeum fine, brushlike, with similar hairs on side and posterior margin of petiole; ventral surface of petiole with thick, closely spaced hairs; gaster with similar hairs on dorsal and ventral surfaces.

All surfaces smooth and glossy.

Yellow, mandibles and clypeus slightly darker.

Type Material

Mackay (1996) - FRENCH GUIANA: Cayenne (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa) [examined]. Calen [?] Jelski; Typus; Acanthostichus parallelus [? Word marked out] brevicornis Em; Typhlomyrmex serratula [label obviously incorrect]


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Bruch C. 1924. Una nueva ponerina Acanthostichus Ramosmexiae n. spec. Physis (Buenos Aires) 7: 260-261.
  • Bruch C. 1925. Macho, larva y ninfa de Acanthostichus ramosmexiae Bruch. Physis (Buenos Aires) 8: 110-114.
  • Cuezzo, F. 1998. Formicidae. Chapter 42 in Morrone J.J., and S. Coscaron (dirs) Biodiversidad de artropodos argentinos: una perspectiva biotaxonomica Ediciones Sur, La Plata. Pages 452-462.
  • Emery C. 1894. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. VI-XVI. Bullettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 26: 137-241.
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Franco W., N. Ladino, J. H. C. Delabie, A. Dejean, J. Orivel, M. Fichaux, S. Groc, M. Leponce, and R. M. Feitosa. 2019. First checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of French Guiana. Zootaxa 4674(5): 509-543.
  • Gallego-Ropero M.C., R.M. Feitosa & J.R. Pujol-Luz, 2013. Formigas (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) Associadas a Ninhos de Cornitermes cumulans Kollar (Isoptera, Termitidae) no Cerrado do Planalto Central do Brasil. EntomoBrasilis, 6(1): 97-101.
  • Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas de Amazonia (GBIF)
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Kusnezov N. 1962. El género Acanthostichus Mayr (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Acta Zoologica Lilloana 18: 121-138.
  • Kusnezov N. 1978. Hormigas argentinas: clave para su identificación. Miscelánea. Instituto Miguel Lillo 61:1-147 + 28 pl.
  • Kusnezov, N. "Lista de las hormigas de Tucumán con descripción de dos nuevos géneros (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)." Acta Zoologica Lilloana 13 (1953): 327-339.
  • MacKay W. P. 1996. A revision of the ant genus Acanthostichus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 27: 129-179
  • Mackay W. P. 2004. A new species of the ant genus Acanthostichus Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Paraguay, and a description of the gyne of A. brevicornis Emery. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 106: 97-101.
  • Mirmecofauna de la reserva ecologica de San Felipe Bacalar
  • Pires de Prado L., R. M. Feitosa, S. Pinzon Triana, J. A. Munoz Gutierrez, G. X. Rousseau, R. Alves Silva, G. M. Siqueira, C. L. Caldas dos Santos, F. Veras Silva, T. Sanches Ranzani da Silva, A. Casadei-Ferreira, R. Rosa da Silva, and J. Andrade-Silva. 2019. An overview of the ant fauna (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the state of Maranhao, Brazil. Pap. Avulsos Zool. 59: e20195938.
  • Santschi F. 1925. Fourmis des provinces argentines de Santa Fe, Catamarca, Santa Cruz, Córdoba et Los Andes. Comunicaciones del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural "Bernardino Rivadavia" 2: 149-168.
  • Vittar, F. 2008. Hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de la Mesopotamia Argentina. INSUGEO Miscelania 17(2):447-466
  • Vittar, F., and F. Cuezzo. "Hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de la provincia de Santa Fe, Argentina." Revista de la Sociedad Entomológica Argentina (versión On-line ISSN 1851-7471) 67, no. 1-2 (2008).
  • Wheeler W. M. 1934. Neotropical ants collected by Dr. Elisabeth Skwarra and others. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 77: 157-240.
  • Wild, A. L. "A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)." Zootaxa 1622 (2007): 1-55.