Aenictus turneri

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Aenictus turneri
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Aenictus
Species: A. turneri
Binomial name
Aenictus turneri
Forel, 1900

Aenictus turneri side view

Aenictus turneri top view Specimen labels


This is the most common, widespread and southern-most species of Aenictus found in Australia. It occurs in a range of habitats from dry sclerophyll through Banksia shrublands and into rainforests. As with other species nests are in soil generally under rocks and logs on the ground. The queen has been collected only once, by B. B. Lowery, together with workers from Murwillumbah, NSW, in September, 1962. It is likely that at least some of the males currently associated with A. hilli actually belong to this species.


A member of the ceylonicus group.

Head capsule entirely smooth and essentially uniformly coloured; scape relatively short (scape index < 91); subpetiolar process large and rectangular. This species can be separated from the otherwise similar A. prolixus by the shorter scape, and from A. acerbus by its smaller size and largely smooth pronotum.

Scape length-Head width measurements

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -11.599243° to -30.98332977°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).

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.


Known only from the worker caste.


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

  • turneri. Aenictus turneri Forel, 1900b: 75 (w.) AUSTRALIA (Queensland).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: Australia: Queensland, Mackay (Turner).
    • Type-depositories: ANIC, MHNG, NHMB.
    • Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1964c: 131 (l.).
    • Junior synonym of ceylonicus: Wilson, 1964a: 452; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 52; Taylor, 1987a: 6; Bolton, 1995b: 61; Zhou, 2001b: 59.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1910b: 30; Brown, 1952b: 123; Brown, 1958a: 5; Shattuck, 2008c: 14 (redescription).
    • Senior synonym of deuqueti: Brown, 1952b: 123; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 53; Shattuck, 2008c: 14.
    • Senior synonym of exiguus: Brown, 1958a: 5; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 53; Shattuck, 2008c: 14.
    • Distribution: Australia.
  • deuqueti. Aenictus deuqueti Crawley, 1923b: 177 (w.) AUSTRALIA (New South Wales).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: Australia: New South Wales, Lismore, nos 449, 450 (C. Deuquet).
    • Type-depositories: AMSC, ANIC, MCZC, MVMA (perhaps also in OXUM).
    • Junior synonym of ceylonicus: Wilson, 1964a: 452; Zhou, 2001b: 59.
    • Junior synonym of turneri: Brown, 1952b: 123; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 53; Bolton, 1995b: 59; Shattuck, 2008c: 14.
  • exiguus. Aenictus exiguus Clark, 1934b: 21, pl. 2, fig. 1 (w.) AUSTRALIA (Queensland).
    • Type-material: neotype worker (by designation of Shattuck, 2008c: 14).
    • [Note: other non-type specimens from neotype nest series are present in ANIC.]
    • Type-locality: neotype Australia: Queensland, Lake Eacham Nat. Park, 17°18’S, 145°37’E, 25-27.ix.1972, (R.W. Taylor).
    • [Note: data of original holotype worker: Australia: N Queensland, Cairns Dist. (A.M. Lea), deposited in SAMA, now lost (Shattuck, 2008c: 16).]
    • Type-depository: ANIC.
    • Junior synonym of ceylonicus: Wilson, 1964a: 452; Bolton, 1995b: 59; Zhou, 2001b: 59.
    • Junior synonym of turneri: Brown, 1958a; 5; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 53; Shattuck, 2008c: 14.

Type Material

Taxonomic Notes

Shattuck (2008) provides the following taxonomic notes on this species:

Morphologically, the subpetiolar process is always subrectangular but shows considerable variation, even within single nest series. The anterior face is always angular and the posterior face a gentle to strong convexity, but the posterior angle often has a projecting flange that varies from short to long. This flange is visually striking and gives the appearance of a greater amount of variation that is actually present based on the underlying process. When the flange is present the posterior face tends to be more strongly convex while in cases where the flange is absent the posterior face is more weakly convex. Even though widespread, the outlying populations are similar to others. For example the Fowlers Gap specimens (from western New South Wales) are similar to those from Lismore (some 1100km to the east) in the shape of subpetiolar process and in having reduced sculpturing compared to others. There would appear to be minimal geographic differentiation within this species.

Aenictus turneri is similar to the Indonesian and Papua New Guinean species A. orientalis but differs in having the humeral angles of the pronotum rounded rather than weakly angular and in being essentially uniform in colour (the head and legs are noticeably lighter than the mesosoma in A. orientalis).

A number of distinct species from the Philippines have been associated with A. turneri (when all were considered conspecific with A. ceylonicus). Most of the Philippine species differ from A. turneri in having thin, weakly convex subpetiolar processes. However, one species (based on specimens from 18km E Naga City and Camp, Dumaguete, both in MCZC) has a projecting rectangular subpetiolar process similar to that found in A. turneri. This material differs from Australian specimens in having shorter legs (especially tibiae), a more block-like postpetiolar node (although there is some variation in Australian material) and a darker, more reddish and less yellowish mesosoma; it is here treated as belonging to a separate species. These Philippine specimens are very similar to the types of A. ceylonicus var. latro Forel, which is currently a junior synonym of A. ceylonicus.

Aenictus exiguus was last considered in detail by Brown (1958). Unfortunately he apparently did not have access to the type specimen, a holotype worker from Cairns district, Queensland, reported as being in the South Australian Museum. A search during this study failed to find this specimen and it is assumed to have been lost. The only clue to the identity of this species is Clark’s (1934) illustration. In this figure the scape is short, as in A. turneri rather than long, as found in A. prolixus. Based on this it is assumed that Clark’s exiguus is conspecific with A. turneri. To secure this treatment a neotype is designated, this specimen being considered conspecific with A. turneri.


Mandible narrow to narrowly subtriangular (depending on number of denticles), with a large apical tooth, a smaller subapical tooth, 0–6 denticles and 1–2 basal teeth (always two basal teeth if denticles are absent); anterior clypeal border flat to convex, posterior of anterior surfaces of frontal lobes in full face view; parafrontal ridges absent; subpetiolar process subrectangular, sometimes with a posterior flange; head and pronotum entirely smooth (except the pronotal collar, which is punctate), mesopleuron and entire propodeum with weak, ill defined punctations under weak longitudinal rugae; body uniform yellow, mesosoma, petiole and postpetiole slightly darker.

Measurements. Worker (n = 37) - CI 83–94; HL 0.48–0.66; HW 0.40–0.61; MTL 0.29–0.59; ML 0.64–1.00; SI 61–89; SL 0.25–0.49.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Andersen A. N., M. Houadria, M. Berman, and M. van der Geest. Rainforest ants of the Tiwi Islands: a remarkable centr of endemism in Australia's monsoonal tropics. Insectes Sociaux 59: 433-441.
  • Brown W. L., Jr. 1958. The army ant Aenictus exiguus Clark a synonym. Psyche (Camb.) 64: 5.
  • Clark J. 1934. New Australian ants. Memoirs of the National Museum, Victoria 8: 21-47.
  • Forel A. 1900. Ponerinae et Dorylinae d'Australie récoltés par MM. Turner, Froggatt, Nugent, Chase, Rothney, J.-J. Walker, etc. Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 44: 54-77.
  • Majer J. D., M. A. Castalanelli, N. I. R. Gunawardene, and B. E. Heterick. 2018. Sequencing the ant fauna of a small island: can metagenomic analysis enable faster. Sociobiology 65(3): 422-432. Identification for Routine Ant Surveys?
  • Shattuck, S. O. 2008. Review of the ant genus Aenictus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Australia with notes on A. ceylonicus (Mayr). Zootaxa 1926:1-19.