Dinoponera australis

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Dinoponera australis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Dinoponera
Species: D. australis
Binomial name
Dinoponera australis
Emery, 1901

Dinoponera australis casent0173381 profile 1.jpg

Dinoponera australis casent0173381 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


This species has the smallest colonies (average of 14 workers) in the genus. Reproduction via gamergates, with the complete loss of the queen caste.

At a Glance • Gamergate  


Photo Gallery

  • Dinoponera australis worker, photo by Guilherme Ide.


Lenhart et al. (2013) - Dinoponera australis is the most aberrant of the Dinoponera species because of its relatively small size, sparse non-flagellate pubescence, as well as the male characters (see below) which distinguish this species.

Worker. This species is most easily recognized by the antero-inferior corner of pronotum having a distinct tooth-like process, the pilosity being short and relatively sparse and the integument being finely micro-sculptured and dull. In addition the scape length is shorter than the head width and the total body length is under 30 mm. Dinoponera lucida could be confused with D. australis in that it also has a tooth-like process on the pronotum and can have a TBL under 30 mm, but differs in having the smooth and shiny integument, long flagellate hairs on lobe and forward slanting dorsal edge of petiole.

Male. Dinoponera australis males are recognized by their rounded head, with compound eyes, reduced ocelli and the posterior margin around the ocelli not protruding as in other species. This species is also characterized by the short, broad pygidial spine, volsella with tear-drop shaped basal lobe covered in minute teeth and aedeagus with a latero-apical fold, notches and teeth along ventral edge as shown in Fig.


Keys including this Species


Dinoponera australis has the widest known range of the Dinoponera. This species is found in the department of Santa Cruz in Bolivia, southern Brazil in the states of Mato Grosso, Goias, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, eastern Paraguay in the departments of Itapúa, Alto Paraná and Guairá, as well as the province of Misiones in Argentina (Lenhart, Dash & Mackay, 2013).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay (type locality), Peru, Uruguay.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: 30 (Fowler, 1985; Beckers et al., 1989)
  • Foraging behaviour: solitary forager (Fowler, 1985; Beckers et al., 1989)



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

  • australis. Dinoponera grandis subsp. australis Emery, 1901a: 48 (w.) PARAGUAY. Santschi, 1921g: 85 (m.). Raised to species: Borgmeier, 1937b: 227. Senior synonym of brevis: Kempf, 1971: 382. Current subspecies: nominal plus bucki, nigricolor.
  • brevis. Dinoponera australis var. brevis Borgmeier, 1937b: 227 (w.) PARAGUAY. [First available use of Dinoponera grandis subsp. australis var. brevis Santschi, 1929a: 416; unavailable name.] Junior synonym of australis: Kempf, 1971: 382.

Type Material

Lenhart et al. (2013) -Worker. BRAZIL: S. Paulo: Avanhandava [5 syntypes workers examined, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa]; additional syntypes from PARAGUAY: Rio Apa, (leg.) Balzan, (leg.); ARGENTINA: Missiones, 1881, Berg (leg.), Giabibiri, Misiones, marzo 1884 G. Bove (leg.)

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



Lenhart et al. (2013) - (mm) (n=21) TBL: 23.42–29.31 (26.21); MDL: 3.59 – 4.31 (3.88); HL: 4.51–5.64 (4.99); HW: 4.31–5.74 (4.89); SL: 4.31–5.02 (4.73); WL: 6.25–7.69 (7.12); PL: 1.79–2.26 (2.03); PH: 2.56–3.28 (2.90); PW: 1.59–1.95 (1.75); GL: 7.28–9.64 (8.20); HFL: 5.54–6.66 (6.16).

A description of the external morphology of the worker is given by Kempf (1971): “Antennal scape length equal to, or shorter than head width. Pubescence on front of head short and inconspicuous. Gular face of head subopaque, finely reticulate-punctate throughout; the fine, arcuate striae variably developed from completely covering the undersurface of head to only vestigially shown antero-laterally or nearly absent. Sides of head reticulate-punctate, subopaque. Antero-inferior corner of pronotum dentate. Pronotal disc superficially reticulate and quite shining; paired swellings either feeble or distinct. Length of hind tibia equal to or less than head length. Petiole, in dorsal view, subquadrate, width over length proportion always more than 0.80, notably shorter and broader than in the other species; its shape…resembling that of mutica, with the upper anterior and posterior corners equally rounded; finely reticulate, somewhat shining; vertical sulcus on posterior surface either absent of more rarely vestigial to feebly developed. Terga I and II of gaster either reticulate-punctate or more superficially reticulate (in the southern range of the territory) and accordingly either subopaque or somewhat shining: fine appressed pubescence lacking completely on disc of the terga, present on the sides. Stridulatory file on acrotergite of tergum II of gaster well developed, broad and triangular, extending back to the acrotergite for about one half to two thirds of its length.”


Lenhart et al. (2013) - A description of the external morphology of the male is given in Kempf (1971): “Head…with smaller eyes, the maximum interocular width being greater than their diameter; with smaller ocelli not protruding above the posterior border of head when seen in full-face view; antennal scape very short, less than twice as long as broad; funiculi without standing hairs; petiole distinctly shorter although variable in outline…; pygidium with a very short spine, not projecting beyond the long cerci; hypopygidium apically broadly truncate, the truncation either straight, or convex, or concave.”

Genitalia. Basal ring with thick dorso-anterior loop structures, reduced; parameres short, broad, rounded, small lobe on dorsal edge, emarginated ventro-basal edge; cuspis volsellaris with few bumps or teeth, digitus volsellaris with numerous small circular bumps at distal lateral face, tuft of setae on ventro-distal side of broad cusp, large tear-shaped lobe on basal ventral corner, covered in minute teeth; penis valve of aedeagus with lateral arm of apodeme at anterior border, no ventral concavity under ridge at base of apodeme, dorsal edge rounded, sloping posteriorly, ventro-anterior triangular projection followed by circular notch, ventral projecting tooth, smaller hemispherical notch with sclerotized border, thin, finely serrated distal edge, noticeable lateral apical fold with slight serration ending ventrally in serrated ridge, rounded un-serrated lobe at distal apex of valve.

See also Tozetto & Lattke (2020).


  • 2n = 114 (Brazil) (Santos et al., 2012).


  • 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).
  • Billen J, Brandão CRF and Paiva RVS. 1995. Morphology and ultrastructure of the pygidial gland of the ant Dinoponera australis (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia 39:209–216.
  • Borgmeier, T. 1937b. Formigas novas ou pouco conhecidas da América do Sul e Central, principalmente do Brasil (Hym. Formicidae). Arch. Inst. Biol. Veg. (Rio J.) 3: 217-255 (page 227, Raised to species)
  • Emery, C. 1901b. Notes sur les sous-familles des Dorylines et Ponérines (Famille des Formicides). Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 45: 32-54 (page 48, worker described)
  • Fowler HG. 1985. Populations, foraging and territoriality in Dinoponera australis (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 29:443–447.
  • Johnson SR, Copello JA, Steven Evans M and Suarez AV. 2010. A biochemical characterization of the major peptides from the Venom of the giant Neotropical hunting ant Dinoponera australis. Toxicon 55: 702–710. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2009.10.021
  • Kempf, W. W. 1971. A preliminary review of the ponerine ant genus Dinoponera Roger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. 14: 369-394 (page 382, Senior synonym of brevis)
  • Lenhart, P.A., Dash, S.T. & Mackay, W.P. 2013. A revision of the giant Amazonian ants of the genus Dinoponera (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 31, 119–164.
  • Monnin T. and Ratnieks FLW. 1999. Reproduction versus work in queenless ants: when to join a hierarchy of hopeful reproductives? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 46:413–422. doi: 10.1007/s002650050637
  • Oldham NJ and Morgan ED. 1993. Structures of the pyrazines from the mandibular gland secretion of the ponerine ant Dinoponera australis. Journal of the Chemical Society. Perkin transactions I, 1993:2713–2716.
  • Oldham NJ, Keegans SJ, Morgan ED, Paiva RVS, Brandão CRF, Schoeters E and Billen JPJ. 1994. Mandibular gland contents of a colony of the Queenless ponerine ant, Dinoponera australis. Annals of the Entomological Society America 77:272–279.
  • Paiva RVS, Brandão CRF. 1995. Nests, worker population and reproductive status of workers, in the giant queenless ponerine ant Dinoponera Roger (Hymenoptera Formicidae). Ethology Ecology and Evolution 7:297–312. doi: 10.1080/08927014.1995.9522938
  • Santos, I.S., Delabie, J.H.C., Silva, J.G., Costa, M.A., Barros, L.A.C., Pompolo, S.G. & Mariano, C.S.F. 2012. Karyotype differentiation among four Dinoponera (Formicidae: Ponerinae) species. Florida Entomologist 95(3), 737-742
  • Santschi, F. 1921g. Ponerinae, Dorylinae et quelques autres formicides néotropiques. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 54: 81-103 (page 85, male described)
  • Schoeters E and Billen J. 1995. Morphology and ultrastructure of the convoluted gland in the ant Dinoponera australis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). International Journal of Insect Morphology and Embryology 24:323–332. doi: 10.1016/0020-7322(94)00024-K
  • Tozetto, L., Lattke, J.E. 2020. Revealing male genital morphology in the giant ant genus Dinoponera with geometric morphometrics. Arthropod Structure & Development 57, 100943 (doi:10.1016/j.asd.2020.100943)).