Dorylus orientalis

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Dorylus orientalis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Dorylus
Species: D. orientalis
Binomial name
Dorylus orientalis
Westwood, 1835

Dorylus orientalis casent0217468 p 1 high.jpg

Dorylus orientalis casent0217468 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

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.

My Ceylon collection was made in disturbed rain forest in the Udawaddatekele Sanctuary (Garden of the Kandy kings), at Kandy. Workers were found dispersed in the soil to a depth of at least 12.5 cm. None were found above ground. Our limited records indicate that the species is generally subterranean and occurs in a wide range of habitats, including cultivated land. (Wilson 1964)

Photo Gallery

  • Workers from Kerala, India. Photo by Kalesh Sadasivan.
  • Dorylus orientalis workers hunting termites, India. Photo by Manoj Vembayam.


A member of the Dorylus orientalis-group.

Wilson (1964) - A single series from Kandy, Ceylon varied in HW 0.55-1.37mm, or as much as all the other series together. Antenna always 9-segmented. The species is only moderately polymorphic. As in other Oriental Dorylus, the mandibular dentition shows great variation which is in part allometric. Concolorous yellowish brown.


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

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

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Wilson (1964) - Green (1903) claimed that orientalis is vegetarian, attacking potatoes, dahlias, and roots of the common sunflower. But Mukerji (1933) doubted this. He studied the worker mouthparts in detail and found them " better adapted for feeding on animal food than on plants. The mandible is similar to that of the species Dorylus (Typhlopone) labiatus Schuck., which is carnivorous in habit. The sharp-pointed bristles, spines, and setae on the 1st and 2nd maxillae, can well pierce the skin of the victim, and draw out the nutritive fluid from the body of their prey, which they suck by their mobile tongue." This conclusion is supported by certain limited observations. "Examples of this species were found within the college compound at Ballygunge, Calcutta, engaged in feeding on a dead earthworm, underneath an earthern seedling pot. On digging the adjoining turf a large number of these blind ants were found below the surface of the earth, a few being busy in attacking a live grub of a beetle. Evidently they reached the bottom of the seedling pot by tunneling through the ground to hunt the prey, as none of them were seen on the surface of the lawn. These specimens were then collected in live condition, and were kept in an earthern vessel half filled with moist earth. They settled down there, and made nests in the earth. I fed them with small live earthworms, but they did not partake of any vegetable food which was given to them."




Wilson 1964 Army Ant fig 1-14


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

  • orientalis. Dorylus orientalis Westwood, 1835: 72 (m.) INDIA. Forel, 1901a: 463 (w.). Combination in D. (Alaopone): Emery, 1895j: 731. Senior synonym of curtisii (and its junior synonym oberthueri): Forel, 1901a: 463; of longicornis: Bingham, 1903: 4; Wilson, 1964a: 442; of fuscus: Wilson, 1964a: 442. Current subspecies: nominal plus obscuriceps.
  • curtisii. Labidus (Typhlopone) curtisii Shuckard, 1840b: 265 (w.) SRI LANKA. Combination in Dorylus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 10; in D. (Alaopone): Emery, 1895j: 730. Senior synonym of oberthueri: Emery, 1895j: 730. Junior synonym of orientalis: Forel, 1901a: 463; Bingham, 1903: 4.
  • longicornis. Dorylus longicornis Shuckard, 1840c: 321 (m.) INDIA. Combination in D. (Alaopone): Emery, 1895j: 731. Subspecies of orientalis: Dalla Torre, 1893: 13; Emery, 1895j: 731. Junior synonym of orientalis: Bingham, 1903: 4. Revived from synonymy as subspecies of orientalis: Forel, 1907e: 17; Santschi, 1924c: 97. Junior synonym of orientalis: Wilson, 1964a: 442.
  • oberthueri. Alaopone oberthueri Emery, 1881a: 274, fig. (w.) INDIA. Combination in Dorylus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 12. Junior synonym of curtisii: Emery, 1895j: 730.
  • fuscus. Dorylus fuscus Emery, 1889b: 487 (m.) MYANMAR. Combination in D. (Alaopone): Emery, 1895j: 731. Subspecies of orientalis: Dalla Torre, 1893: 13; Emery, 1895k: 453; Bingham, 1903: 5; Emery, 1910b: 15. Junior synonym of orientalis: Wilson, 1964a: 442.



  • 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 4, Senior synonym of longicornis)
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 731, Combination in D. (Alaopone))
  • Forel, A. 1901a. Les Formicides de l'Empire des Indes et de Ceylan. Part VIII. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 13: 462-477 (page 463, worker described, Senior synonym of curtisii (and its junior synonym oberthueri))
  • 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).
  • Westwood, J. O. 1835. [Untitled. Introduced by: "Specimens were exhibited, partly from the collection of the Rev. F. W. Hope, and partly from that of Mr. Westwood, of various Hymenopterous insects, which Mr. Westwood regarded as new to science."]. Proc. (page 72, male described)
  • Wilson, E. O. 1964a. The true army ants of the Indo-Australian area (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Dorylinae). Pac. Insects 6: 427-483 (page 442, Senior synonym of longicornis and fuscus)