Dorylus nigricans molestus

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Dorylus nigricans molestus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Dorylus
Species: D. nigricans
Subspecies: D. nigricans molestus
Trinomial name
Dorylus nigricans molestus
(Gerstäcker, 1859)
Evolutionary Relationships

Dorylus laevigatus

Dorylus conradti

Dorylus orientalis

Dorylus fimbriatus laevipodex

Dorylus fulvus

Dorylus spininodis

Dorylus mayri

Dorylus nigricans rubellus

Dorylus nigricans molestus

Dorylus nigricans terrificus

Dorylus wilverthi

Dorylus nigricans burmeisteri

Dorylus nigricans sjostedti

Dorylus nigricans arcens

Dorylus nigricans

Dorylus emeryi

Dorylus gerstaeckeri

Dorylus gribodoi

Dorylus kohli

Dorylus emeryi opacus

Dorylus braunsi

Dorylus affinis

Dorylus helvolus

Based on Kronauer et al., 2007. Note only selected Dorylus species are included, and undescribed species are excluded.



Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mozambique (type locality), United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Dorylus nigricans molestus is a driver ant.

Butler et al. (2018) - Driver ant are a group of nomadic swarm-raiding army ants that are restricted to sub-Saharan Africa (Wilson, 1964; Gotwald, 1995). The group is comprised of approximately nine species (Kronauer et al., 2007; Scheoning, 2008) in the subgenus Anomma. Driver ants are top invertebrate predators with extremely large colonies that can contain more than 10 million workers (Gotwald, 1995). Unlike the queens of most other ants, army ant queens are permanently wingless. Instead of going on a mating flight, new queens mate within their natal nest with approximately 10–30 unrelated males that disperse on the wing. In driver ants, mating probably occurs within a 2- to 3-week period before the new queen assumes regnancy of her colony (Kronauer et al., 2004b; Kronauer & Boomsma, 2007), and the mother queen disperses on foot, taking a portion of the existing workers with her (Gotwald, 1995). Colonies of driver ants are monogynous, and queens are highly multiply mated.

In Kakamega Forest, Kenya this species co-occurs with Dorylus wilverthi (Garcia et al., 2009; Peters & Okalo, 2009; Kronauer et al., 2011; Peters et al., 2011). Dorylus molestus occurs in open agricultural habitat and grasslands (Scheoning et al., 2006; Peters & Okalo, 2009; Peters et al., 2009).


Butler et al. (2018) found this ant and the co-occuring Dorylus wilverthi hybridize. Their study of the population genetics of naturally occurring colonies concluded: "hybridization is bidirectional and occurs at equal rates in both species. Hybrid workers make up only 1–2% of the population, and successful interspecific matings represent approximately 2% of all matings in both species. This shows that, although interspecific matings that give rise to worker offspring occur regularly, they are much rarer than intraspecific mating. Finally, we find no evidence of an association between hybridization and genetic caste determination in this population. This means that genetic caste determination is not a necessary outcome of hybridization in ants, even in species where queens mate with multiple males.



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

  • molestus. Anomma molesta Gerstäcker, 1859: 262 (w.) (no state data).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated, “several”).
    • Type-locality: Mozambique: Tette (Peters).
    • Type-depository: MNHU.
    • [Also described as new by Gerstäcker, 1862: 502; type-locality from this reference.]
    • [Misspelled as modestus by Santschi, 1930a: 56.]
    • Menozzi, 1927a: 264 (q.); Raignier & van Boven, 1955: 103 (q.); van Boven, 1972: 135 (q.); Wheeler, G.C. 1943: 322 (l.).
    • Combination in Dorylus (Anomma): Emery, 1895j: 710.
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Mayr, 1907b: 7; Santschi, 1912b: 162; Santschi, 1914b: 62; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 739; Santschi, 1930a: 56; Menozzi, 1942: 165; Weber, 1943c: 288; Eidmann, 1944: 426; Raignier & van Boven, 1955: 24, 103; van Boven & Lévieux, 1970: 354.
    • Synonym of stanleyi: Bernard, 1953b: 218.
    • [Note: Bernard, 1953b: 218, gives stanleyi as senior synonym, but molestus has priority.]
    • Status as species: Roger, 1861a: 47; Roger, 1863b: 21; Mayr, 1863: 395; Gerstäcker, 1871: 355.
    • Subspecies of burmeisteri: Emery, 1892d: 554; Dalla Torre, 1893: 9; Wasmann, 1904b: 673.
    • Subspecies of nigricans: Emery, 1895j: 710; Emery, 1910b: 12; Stitz, 1911b: 375; Emery, 1912c: 1; Menozzi, 1927a: 264; Santschi, 1930b: 60; Karavaiev, 1931d: 42; Santschi, 1935b: 264; Santschi, 1937d: 216; Bolton, 1995b: 179; Hita Garcia, et al. 2013: 204.
    • Senior synonym of antinorii: Emery, 1910b: 12; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 739; Bolton, 1995b: 179.
    • [Note: material in copal recorded by DuBois, 1998a: 137.]
    • Distribution: Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe.
  • antinorii. Alaopone antinorii Emery, 1881a: 275, figs. (w.) ETHIOPIA.
    • Type-material: holotype workers.
    • Type-locality: Ethiopia: Let-Marefia (Antonori).
    • Type-depository: MSNG.
    • Combination in Dorylus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 10;
    • combination in D. (Alaopone): Emery, 1895j: 736.
    • Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 10; Emery, 1895j: 736.
    • Junior synonym of molestus: Emery, 1910b: 12; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 739; Bolton, 1995b: 177.

Taxonomic Notes

Kronauer et al. (2007) treat this taxon as a full species rather than a subspecies.



  • Billen, J. 1997B. Morphology and ultrastructure of the metatibial gland in the army ant Dorylus molestus (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Belgian Journal of Zoology 127:159-166.
  • Boven, J. K. A. van. 1972. Description de deux reines d'Anomma (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bull. Ann. Soc. R. Entomol. Belg. 108: 133-146 (page 135, queen described)
  • Butler, I. A., M. K. Peters, and D. J. C. Kronauer. 2018. Low levels of hybridization in two species of African driver ants. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 31:556-571. doi:10.1111/jeb.13245
  • DuBois, M. B. 1998b. The first fossil Dorylinae with notes on fossil Ecitoninae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomol. News 109: 136-142 (page 137, Material in copal)
  • Emery, C. 1892f [1891]. Voyage de M. Ch. Alluaud dans le territoire d'Assinie (Afrique occidentale) en juillet et août 1886. Formicides. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 60: 553-574 (page 554, Variety/subspecies of burmeisteri)
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 710, Combination in Dorylus (Anomma), Variety/subspecies of nigricans)
  • Emery, C. 1910b. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Dorylinae. Genera Insectorum 102: 1-34 (page 12, Senior synonym of antinorii)
  • Gerstäcker, A. 1859. [Untitled. Introduced by: "Hr. Peters berichtete über sein Reisewerk, von dem die Insecten bis zum 64., die Botanik bis zum 34. Bogen gedruckt sind und theilte den Schluss der Diagnosen der von Hrn. Dr. Gerstäcker bearbeiteten Hymenopteren mit."]. Monatsber. K. Preuss. Akad. Wiss. Berl. 1858: 261-264. (page 262, worker described)
  • Kronauer, D. J. C.; Schöning, C.; Vilhelmsen, L. B.; Boomsma, J. J. 2007. A molecular phylogeny of Dorylus army ants provides evidence for multiple evolutionary transitions in foraging niche. BMC Evolutionary Biology 7: Article 56 (doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-56).
  • Kronauer, D.J.C., Peters, M.K., Schöning, C., & Boomsma, J.J. 2011. Hybridization in East African swarm-raiding army ants. Frontiers in Zoology 8: 20.
  • Menozzi, C. 1927a. Zur Kenntnis des Weibchens von Dorylus (Anomma) nigricans var. molesta Gerst. (Hymenoptera - Formicidae). Zool. Anz. 70: 263-266 (page 264, queen described)
  • Raignier, A.; Boven, J. K. A. van. 1955. Étude taxonomique, biologique et biométrique des Dorylus du sous-genre Anomma (Hymenoptera Formicidae). Ann. Mus. R. Congo Belge Nouv. Sér. Quarto Sci. Zool. 2: 1-359 (page 103, see also)
  • Santschi, F. 1935b. Hymenoptera. I. Formicidae. Mission Sci. Omo 2: 255-277 (page 264, Variety/subspecies of nigricans)
  • Schöning, C., W. Kinuthia, and J. J. Boomsma. 2006. Does the Afrotropical army ant Dorylus Anomma molestus go extinct in fragmented forests? Journal of East African Natural History. 95:163-180.
  • Schöning, C., W. M. Njagi, and N. R. Franks. 2005. Temporal and spatial patterns in the emigrations of the army ant Dorylus (Anomma) molestus in the montane forest of Mt Kenya. Ecological Entomology. 30:532-540. doi:doi:10.1111/j.0307-6946.2005.00720.x
  • Stitz, H. 1911b. Formicidae. Wiss. Ergeb. Dtsch. Zent.-Afr.-Exped. 3: 375-392 (page 375, Variety/subspecies of nigricans)
  • Wheeler, G. C. 1943. The larvae of the army ants. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 36: 319-332 (page 322, larva described)
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1984a. The larvae of the army ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): a revision. J. Kans. Entomol. Soc. 57: 263-275 (page 268, see also)