Carebara diversa

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Carebara diversa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Carebara
Species: C. diversa
Binomial name
Carebara diversa
(Jerdon, 1851)

Pheidologeton diversus casent0906201 p 1 high.jpg

Pheidologeton diversus casent0906201 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


Known for their impressive foraging trails and extreme size differences among workers. Despite a conspicuous presence over a large part of SE Asia, little is known about their biology. They are identified only as a species-complex in many field studies


Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Guinea.
Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.
Oriental Region: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India (type locality), Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam (type locality).
Palaearctic Region: China, Japan.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Perhaps the best known member of what was formerly known as Pheidologeton, this species is commonly found in open and disturbed habitats, e.g. gardens, forest fringes, and are rarer in deep forests. They exhibit group-hunting behaviour, where masses of workers form long and dense trails, in an uninterrupted foraging effort (Moffett, 1988). These trails, also known as trunk trails, can last for days and are possible because of huge colonies, consisting of several hundreds of thousands of workers. This elaborate foraging behaviour has coined them the name, marauder ants.

Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: 250,000 (Moffet, 1988; Beckers et al., 1989)
  • Foraging behaviour: group hunter (Moffet, 1988; Beckers et al., 1989)


An outstanding feature is extreme polymorphism closely coupled with polyethism (Moffett, 1987). Soldiers can be many times bigger than workers, and several small workers can ride on the back of soldiers. In C. diversa, small workers make up the bulk of foraging parties, while scattered soldiers often carry large objects, food items, or lift debris off the trunk trails.



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

  • diversus. Oecodoma diversa Jerdon, 1851: 109 (s.w.) INDIA.
    • [Duplicated in Jerdon, 1854a: 51. Genus misspelled as Ocodoma in both publications.]
    • Emery, 1893e: 212 (q.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1954a: 135 (l.); Imai, et al. 1984: 7 (k.).
    • Combination in Pheidole: Smith, F. 1858b: 174.
    • Combination in Pheidologeton: Roger, 1863b: 30.
    • Combination in Carebara: Fischer, et al. 2014: 71.
    • Status as species: Smith, F. 1858b: 174; Roger, 1863b: 30; Mayr, 1863: 440; Smith, F. 1871a: 331; Dalla Torre, 1893: 73; Emery, 1893e: 206; Emery, 1893f: 243; Emery, 1895k: 466; Emery, 1901g: 567; Forel, 1903a: 691; Rothney, 1903: 98; Bingham, 1903: 162; Emery, 1904b: 606; Forel, 1904b: 372; Forel, 1907a: 17; Forel, 1907e: 17; Forel, 1909b: 55; Forel, 1910d: 123; Forel, 1912d: 105; Forel, 1913f: 191; Viehmeyer, 1916a: 136; Wheeler, W.M. 1919e: 85; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 880; Wheeler, W.M. 1923b: 1; Santschi, 1924c: 100; Emery, 1924d: 212; Stitz, 1925: 119; Wheeler, W.M. 1927b: 45; Wheeler, W.M. 1929g: 44; Mukerjee, 1930: 154; Santschi, 1937h: 371; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 159; Collingwood, 1962: 225; Baltazar, 1966: 257; Moffett, 1984: 7; Morisita, et al. 1992: 43; Bolton, 1995b: 333; Wu, J. & Wang, 1995: 72; Tang, Li, et al. 1995: 76; Zhou & Zheng, 1997b: 163 (in key); Tiwari, 1999: 60; Zhou, 2001b: 90; Imai, et al. 2003: 131; Ghosh, et al. 2005: 31; Zhou, Zhao & Jia, 2006: 870 (in key); Terayama, 2009: 156 (in key).
    • Senior synonym of ficta: Terayama, 2009: 156.
    • Senior synonym of megacephala: Dalla Torre, 1893: 73; Emery, 1893e: 206; Emery, 1924d: 212.
    • Senior synonym of megacephalotes: Dalla Torre, 1893: 73; Emery, 1924d: 212.
    • Senior synonym of militaris: Donisthorpe, 1932c: 458, 463.
    • Senior synonym of ocellifera: Dalla Torre, 1893: 73; Emery, 1893e: 206; Bingham, 1903: 162; Emery, 1924d: 212.
    • Senior synonym of pabulator: Dalla Torre, 1893: 73; Emery, 1893e: 206; Emery, 1924d: 212.
    • Senior synonym of polita: Donisthorpe, 1932c: 458, 463.
    • Current subspecies: nominal plus draco, laotina, macgregori, philippina, standfussi, taprobanae, tenuirugosa, williamsi.
  • ficta. Pheidologeton diversus var. ficta Forel, 1911d: 386 (w.) VIETNAM.
    • Combination in Carebara: Fischer, et al. 2014: 71.
    • Subspecies of diversus: Emery, 1924d: 212; Wheeler, W.M. 1929g: 45; Wheeler, W.M. 1930a: 100; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 159; Baltazar, 1966: 257; Bolton, 1995b: 333; Zhou, Zhao & Jia, 2006: 870 (in key).
    • Junior synonym of diversa: Terayama, 2009: 156.
  • ocellifera. Pheidole ocellifera Smith, F. 1858b: 174 (w.) MYANMAR. Combination in Pheidologeton: Mayr, 1862: 750. Junior synonym of diversus: Emery, 1893e: 206.
  • megacephala. Pheidole megacephala Smith, F. 1860b: 112 (w.) INDONESIA (Batjan I.). Combination in Pheidologeton: Roger, 1863b: 30. Senior synonym of megacephalotes Dalla Torre, below. Junior synonym of diversus: Emery, 1893e: 206.
  • militaris. Pheidole militaris Smith, F. 1860a: 74 (s.w.) INDONESIA (Sulawesi). Junior synonym of diversus: Donisthorpe, 1932c: 458.
  • pabulator. Pheidole pabulator Smith, F. 1860b: 112 (s.w.) INDONESIA (Batjan I.). Combination in Pheidologeton: Mayr, 1886b: 362. Junior synonym of diversus: Emery, 1893e: 206.
  • polita. Myrmica polita Smith, F. 1860b: 108 (w.) INDONESIA (Batjan I.). Junior synonym of diversus: Donisthorpe, 1932c: 463.
  • megacephalotes. Pheidole megacephalotes Dalla Torre, 1892: 90. [Unnecessary replacement name for megacephala Smith, above.] Junior synonym of megacephala: Dalla Torre, 1893: 73.

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Myrmica polita

Two worker syntypes in Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Labelled “Bac.” (= Batjan I.).

Pheidole militaris

One syntype worker major and one syntype worker minor in Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Labelled “Mak.”

Pheidole pabulator

Two syntypes worker major and two syntype worker minor (on a single card) in Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Labelled “Bac. 2.”



  • 2n = 42, karyotype = 12M+30A (India) (Imai et al., 1984) (as Pheidologeton diversus).


  • Baltazar, C. R. 1966. A catalogue of Philippine Hymenoptera (with a bibliography, 1758-1963). Pac. Insects Monogr. 8: 1-488 (page 257, listed)
  • Beckers R., Goss, S., Deneubourg, J.L., Pasteels, J.M. 1989. Colony size, communication and ant foraging Strategy. Psyche 96: 239-256 (doi:10.1155/1989/94279).
  • Bingham, C. T. 1903. The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Hymenoptera, Vol. II. Ants and Cuckoo-wasps. London: Taylor and Francis, 506 pp. (page 163, see also)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 73, Senior synonym of megacephalotes)
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1932c. On the identity of Smith's types of Formicidae (Hymenoptera) collected by Alfred Russell Wallace in the Malay Archipelago, with descriptions of two new species. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 10(10): 441-476 (page 458, 463, Senior synonym of militaris and polita)
  • Emery, C. 1893g. Formicides de l'Archipel Malais. Rev. Suisse Zool. 1: 187-229 (page 212, queen, male described)
  • Fischer, G., Azorsa, F. & Fisher, B.L. 2014. The ant genus Carebara Westwood (Hymenoptera, Formicidae): synonymisation of Pheidologeton Mayr under Carebara, establishment and revision of the C. polita species group. ZooKeys 438: 57–112.
  • Imai, H. T.; Baroni Urbani, C.; Kubota, M.; Sharma, G. P.; Narasimhanna, M. H.; Das, B. C.; 1984. Karyological survey of Indian ants. Jpn. J. Genet. 59: 1-32 (page 7, karyotype described)
  • Jerdon, T. C. 1851. A catalogue of the species of ants found in Southern India. Madras J. Lit. Sci. 17: 103-127 (page 109, soldier, worker described)
  • Moffett, M. 1984. Swarm raiding in a myrmicine ant. Naturwissenschaften 71: 588-589 PDF
  • Moffett, M. 1987 Division of labor and diet in the extremely polymorphic ant Pheidologeton diversus. National Geographic Research 3, 282–304.
  • Moffett, M. 1988. Foraging dynamics in the group-hunting myrmicine ant, Pheidologeton diversus. Journal of Insect Behavior 1:309–331 PDF
  • Roger, J. 1863b. Verzeichniss der Formiciden-Gattungen und Arten. Berl. Entomol. Z. 7(B Beilage: 1-65 (page 30, Combination in Pheidologeton)
  • Smith, F. 1858a. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 174, Combination in Pheidole)
  • Terayama, M. 2009. A synopsis of the family Formicidae of Taiwan. Research Bulletin of Kanto Gakuen University 17: 81-266.
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1954a [1953]. The ant larvae of the myrmicine tribe Pheidologetini. Psyche (Camb.) 60: 129-147 (page 135, larva described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1919f. The ants of Borneo. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 63: 43-147 (page 85, see also)