Aphaenogaster ovaticeps

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Aphaenogaster ovaticeps
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Aphaenogaster
Species group: splendida
Species: A. ovaticeps
Binomial name
Aphaenogaster ovaticeps
(Emery, 1898)

Aphaenogaster ovaticeps casent0280961 p 1 high.jpg

Aphaenogaster ovaticeps casent0280961 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


This species has the highest predisposition to inhabit very humid and shady locations. Workers were observed active during the day, but only in dark places, such as stream valleys inside plane forests or other deciduous forests, rocky walls, damp rock walls, boulders, stones or damp litter. They were also regularly collected on the walls of watering holes built in mountain villages as a place of rest. Occasionally workers were collected in xerothermic oak forests, mixed or coniferous forests but always in their most humid and dark parts. Also, they were often observed on the rocky walls of the gorges, especially on limestone rocks. In mountains above the upper forest limit specimens were collected in rock crevices or on shady walls of chapels, churches or shelters. One colony was observed inside the ruins of an ancient church. On islands some specimens were observed also at the entrance parts of dump caves. Aphaenogaster ovaticeps has monogynous colonies, nests under stone, and the highest number of workers observed in a nest did not exceed 50 individuals (Salata et al., 2021).


A member of the Aphaenogaster splendida-group.

Salata et al. (2021) - A very distinct species. Together with Aphaenogaster peloponnesiaca they create a complex of species with regularly oval head similarly converging anterad and posterad. Aphaenogaster ovaticeps differs in brown to dark brown color of head and mesosoma, and flat propodeal dorsum while in A. peloponnesiaca body is yellow to rusty-yellow and propodeal dorsum is distinctly convex. From other species of the A. splendida species-group the most similar is Aphaenogaster splendida, due to slim body and elongated and slim antennae and legs, but differs in pale yellow head and mesosoma, less regularly oval head almost parallel-sided in the middle, and stronger head sculpture. Aphaenogaster aktaci and Aphaenogaster rugosoferruginea are the only members of the A. splendida species-group with dark body coloration, but differ in not regularly oval head with stronger sculpture. Aphaenogaster aktaci differs also in longitudinal not transverse rugosities on the top of propodeum and stronger propodeal spines with elongated anterior carina. Aphaenogaster rugosoferruginea differs also in stouter body and legs, and hind femora distinctly swollen in the middle.

Keys including this Species


Records reported as this species from Aegean Islands probably based on misidentification with Aphaenogaster festae (Borowiec, 2014).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 44.41111° to 38.1°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy (type locality), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia.

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.


Life History Traits

  • Queen number: monogynous (Salata et al., 2021)
  • Maximum colony size: 50 (Salata et al., 2021)
  • Compound colony type: free living
  • Nest site: under objects (Salata et al., 2021)



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

  • ovaticeps. Stenamma (Aphaenogaster) ovaticeps Emery, 1898c: 136, figs. (w.q.m.) ITALY.
    • Type-material: 2 syntype workers.
    • Type-locality: Italy: Genoa (G. Mantero).
    • Type-depository: MSNG.
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster: Emery, 1908c: 324;
    • combination in Aphaenogaster (Attomyrma): Emery, 1921f: 58.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1908c: 324; Forel, 1913d: 428; Emery, 1916b: 130; Bondroit, 1918: 159; Emery, 1921f: 58; Finzi, 1923: 3; Müller, 1923b: 55; Finzi, 1930d: 312; Zimmermann, 1935: 14; Baroni Urbani, 1962: 130; Bernard, 1967: 136 (redescription); Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 50; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987a: 54; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b: 270 (in key); Collingwood, 1993b: 194; Bolton, 1995b: 71; Poldi, et al. 1995: 3; Petrov, 2006: 90 (in key); Legakis, 2011: 7; Borowiec, L. & Salata, 2012: 466; Borowiec, L. 2014: 15; Lebas, et al. 2016: 262; Salata, Karaman, et al. 2021: 314.
    • Senior synonym of muelleriana: Salata, Karaman, et al. 2021: 314.
    • Distribution: Albania, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia.
  • muelleriana. Aphaenogaster ovaticeps subsp. muelleriana Wolf, 1915: 44, figs. 5, 6 (w.) ITALY.
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: Italy: Miramar Castle, nr Trieste, on wall, 22.v.1913 (J. Müller).
    • Type-depository: MHNG.
    • [Aphaenogaster ovaticeps subsp. muelleriana Wolf, in Emery, 1914d: 156. Nomen nudum.]
    • Emery, 1916b: 140 (q.m.); Finzi, 1927a: 8 (m.).
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster (Attomyrma): Emery, 1921f: 58.
    • Subspecies of ovaticeps: Emery, 1916b: 130; Emery, 1921f: 58; Finzi, 1922: 119; Finzi, 1923: 3; Müller, 1923b: 55; Soudek, 1925b: 14; Finzi, 1927a: 8; Zimmermann, 1935: 13; Baroni Urbani, 1962: 130; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 51.
    • Status as species: Agosti & Collingwood, 1987a: 54; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b: 270 (in key); Schulz, A. 1994a: 423; Bolton, 1995b: 71; Poldi, et al. 1995: 3; Bračko, 2006: 135; Petrov, 2006: 90 (in key); Bračko, 2007: 17; Karaman, M.G. 2011b: 18; Legakis, 2011: 7; Borowiec, L. & Salata, 2012: 465; Borowiec, L. 2014: 15; Lebas, et al. 2016: 262; Salata & Borowiec, 2018c: 42.
    • Junior synonym of ovaticeps: Salata, Karaman, et al. 2021: 314.

Type Material

  • Aphaenogaster ovaticeps: Syntype worker: “Genova M |16.V 1803 || CM || Aphaenogaster | ovaticeps | Emery || Typus || ANTWEB | CASENT | 0904170 (MSNG); AntWeb, CASEN0904170, photos by Zach Lieberman, available on https://www.AntWeb.org (Salata et al., 2021).
  • Aphaenogaster muelleriana: Holotype worker: Aph. Ovaticeps | Em. | v. mülleriana | Wolf | Trieste |Finzi leg|| Coll. | A. Forel || Cotypus || ANTWEB | CASENT0907689 (MHNG), personally investigated (Salata et al., 2021).

The investigated specimen of Aphaenogaster muelleriana has “Cotypus” label but according to the original description this taxon was described from a single specimen, thus it should be considered as a holotype. Specimens from Trieste collected by Finzi and photographed on AntWeb as FOCOL1227 and FOCOL1228 noted as “Type” are not true syntypes (Salata et al., 2021).

Taxonomic Notes

Salata et al. (2021) - Emery (1898) described Aphaenogaster ovaticeps based on two workers and one male from Genoa, Italy and 6 gynes, one male and one worker from Albania, Pindos and Preveza (now Greece, Epirus Province). He also designated Italian specimens as types of this species and additionally noted differences between male from Genoa and male from Pindos. Aphaenogaster ovaticeps is only known from two close sites which are urban sites in Italy’s Liguria. Both, types and additional specimens from this population have been defined multiple times as morphologically indistinguishable from Aphaenogaster muelleriana (Scupola 2017), and our investigation supported this conclusion. Study of the photographs of the syntype of A. ovaticeps, available on AntWeb, and its measurements show no differences between this specimen and majority of our material of Greek populations of A. muelleriana. Thus, we decided to recognize A. muelleriana as a junior synonym of A. ovaticeps.



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Agosti, D. and C.A. Collingwood. 1987. A provisional list of the Balkan ants (Hym. Formicidae) and a key to the worker caste. I. Synonymic list. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft, 60: 51-62
  • Andoni V. 1977. Kontribut mbi Himenopteret e familjes Formicidae te vendit tone. Buletini I Shkencave te Natyres 31(2): 93-101.
  • Bernard F. 1967. Faune de l'Europe et du Bassin Méditerranéen. 3. Les fourmis (Hymenoptera Formicidae) d'Europe occidentale et septentrionale. Paris: Masson, 411 pp.
  • Borowiec L. 2014. Catalogue of ants of Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and adjacent regions (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Genus (Wroclaw) 25(1-2): 1-340.
  • Borowiec L., and S. Salata. 2012. Ants of Greece - Checklist, comments and new faunistic data (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Genus 23(4): 461-563.
  • Collingwood, C. A. 1993. A Comparitive Study of the Ant Fauna of Five Greek Islands. Biologia Gallo-hellenica. 20,1:191-197
  • Collingwood, C. A. "A comparative study of the ant fauna of five Greek islands." Biologia Gallo-Hellenica 20 (1993): 191-197.
  • Czechowski W., A. Radchenko, W. Czechowska and K. Vepsäläinen. 2012. The ants of Poland with reference to the myrmecofauna of Europe. Fauna Poloniae 4. Warsaw: Natura Optima Dux Foundation, 1-496 pp
  • Emery C. 1914. Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der Bearbeitung von O. Leonhard's Sammlungen. 5. Südeuropäische Ameisen (Hym.). Entomologische Mitteilungen. Berlin-Dahlem 3: 156-159.
  • Emery, C. "Beiträge zur Kenntniss der palaearktischen Ameisen." Öfversigt af Finska Vetenskaps-Societetens Förhandlingar (Helsinki) 20 (1898): 124-151.
  • Finzi, B. "Terzo contributo alla conoscenza della fauna mirmecologica della Venezia Giulia." Bollettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 59 (1927): 7-10.
  • Forel, A. "Fourmis de la faune méditerranéenne récoltées par MM. U. et J. Sahlberg." Revue Suisse de Zoologie 21 (1913): 427-438.
  • Legakis Collection Database
  • Petrov I. Z., and C. A. Collingwood. 1992. Survey of the myrmecofauna (Formicidae, Hymenoptera) of Yugoslavia. Archives of Biological Sciences (Belgrade) 44: 79-91.