AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Leptanilla revelierii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Leptanillinae
Tribe: Leptanillini
Genus: Leptanilla
Emery, 1870
Type species
Leptanilla revelierii
47 species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)

Leptanilla revelierii casent0006788 profile 1.jpg

Leptanilla revelierii

Leptanilla revelierii casent0006788 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


Evolutionary Placement

  (1 species)

  (3 species)

  (13 species)

  (47 species)

  (2 species)

Based on Ward & Fisher, 2016. The genera Noonilla, Phaulomyrma and Scyphodon are excluded as they have yet to be studied in detail.

Hita Garcia, Wiesel and Fischer (2013) - The more than 40 species of Leptanilla (Bolton, 2012) are largely distributed in the Old World tropics and subtropics (Baroni Urbani, 1977; Bolton, 1990; Lopez et al., 1994). Baroni Urbani (1977) revised the genus on a global basis but today there are numerous undescribed species. Sampling methods that specifically target hypogaeic insects (Normand, 1911; Lopez et al., 1994) are also likely to discover more species of these cryptic ants. The members of this genus are all very small, pale, subterranean ants that are rarely collected, especially both worker and queen castes. Leptanilla species nest and forage in the ground, and seem to be specialised predators of geophilomorph centipedes (Masuko, 1990). Additionally, the queens of some species are known to feed on their larvae, but unlike amblyoponine queens they do not damage the larval integument. Instead the larvae possess a specialised duct organ on the fourth abdominal segment from which the queens can gain the larval haemolymph (Bolton, 1990; Masuko, 1990). Leptanilla displays several behavioural similarities to army ants since all known queens are dichthadiiform, several species are known to be migratory, and foraging is performed in groups.

At a Glance • Ergatoid queen  


Photo Gallery

  • Leptanilla nest found in soil under a log, Kerala, India. Photo by Kalesh Sadasivan.
  • Leptanilla queen from nest found in soil under a log, Kerala, India. Note that queens have only a petiole and are lacking the postpetiole found in workers. Photo by Kalesh Sadasivan.
  • Leptanilla workers from nest found in soil under a log, Kerala, India. Note that workers have both a petiole and postpetiole. Photo by Kalesh Sadasivan.
  • Leptanilla queen from nest found in soil under a log, Kerala, India. Note that queens have only a petiole and are lacking the postpetiole found in workers. Photo by Kalesh Sadasivan.


Workers of Leptanilla are minute and pale, a reflection of their subterranean life-history. Many species are known only from males. Queens and males have a petiole, while workers have a petiole and postpetiole. Zu (2002) provided a key to the genera of the Letpanillinae. The set of characters that separate this genus from the other genera in the subfamily with workers (two genera are only known from males): Mandibles subtriangular, masticatory margins shorter than or subequal to inner margins, the former with 3-5 teeth. Antennal insertions very close to the anterior margin of the head. Body very slender.

AntWeb icon 02.png See images of species within this genus

Keys including this Genus


Keys to Species in this Genus


Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


Vietnam (Eguchi et al 2014) - Leptanilla spp. inhabit woodland habitats including well-developed forests and forest edges, and lowland and montane forests. Their nests are found under stones and wood fragments. Small dead centipedes being eaten by many larvae are sometimes found inside a nest chamber. Leptanilla spp. are rare in Vietnam, but Leptanilla sp. eg-1 is relatively frequently found in montane forests at the foot of Mt. Fan Si Pan (Sa Pa, Lao Cai).



Worker Morphology

  • Antennal segment count: 12
  • Antennal club: absent-gradual
  • Sting: present


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

  • LEPTANILLA [Leptanillinae: Leptanillini]
    • Leptanilla Emery, 1870: 196. Type-species: Leptanilla revelierii, by monotypy.
    • Leptanilla senior synonym of Leptomesites: Baroni Urbani, 1977c: 433.
  • LEPTOMESITES [junior synonym of Leptanilla]
    • Leptomesites Kutter, 1948: 286. Type-species: Leptomesites escheri, by original designation.
    • Leptomesites junior synonym of Leptanilla: Baroni Urbani, 1977c: 433.


Ogata et al. (1995): Figures 24-29. Leptanilla sp. 2. male genitalia (Ushikumori. lriomote Is .. Ryukvus. Japan). 24. dorsal: 25. ventral: 26. lateral: 27. Left paramere. inner lateral: 28. right paramere and aedeagal plate. inner lateral: 29. basal ring and hypopygium. ventral. Scale bar = 0.1 mm.

Ogata et. al. (1995):

(1) Head longer than broad, with subparallel sides and rounded posterior corners.

(2) Eyes medium in size, situated anteriorly.

(3) Mandibles reduced, forming non-opposable lobes.

(4) Palp formula 1,1.

(5) Antennal insertions close to anterior margin of cranium.

(6) Antennal insertions exposed; antennae with l3 segments.

(7) Pronotum elongate with concave posterolateral portion.

(8) Mesoscutum long and narrow, not overhanging pronotum, with arched dorsal surface.

(9) Notauli absent on mesoscutum.

(10) Mesoscutellum less raised, not overhanging metanotum.

(11) Forewing lacking pterostigma and with poor venation (Sc + R + Rs).

(12) Hindwing narrow, lacking any veins.

(13) Middle tibia with one small apical spur; hind tibia with two small apical spurs.

(14) Metapleural gland absent.

(15) Propodeum cylindrical, with arched dorsal surface.

(16) Petiole isolated, subglobous without anterior peduncle.

(17) Third abdominal segment not forming postpetiole.

(18) Cerci absent.

(19) Hypopygium small and broad, sometimes bifurcate posteriorly.

(20) Basal ring small, thin, weakly sclerotized.

(21) Digitus simple and elongate.

(22) Apical portion of parameres thin, flattened, dorsally protruding, sometimes armed with small teeth.

(23) Aedeagal plates flattened, often broad, without serrate ventral margin.


  • André, E. 1882d. Les fourmis. [part]. Pp. 233-280 in: André, Edm. 1881-1886. Species des Hyménoptères d'Europe et d'Algérie. Tome Deuxième. Beaune: Edmond André, 919 + 48 pp. (page 268, Leptanilla in Myrmicinae [Myrmicidae])
  • Ashmead, W. H. 1905c. A skeleton of a new arrangement of the families, subfamilies, tribes and genera of the ants, or the superfamily Formicoidea. Can. Entomol. 37: 381-384 (page 383, Leptanilla in Myrmicinae, Stenammini)
  • Baroni Urbani, C. 1977c. Materiali per una revisione della sottofamiglia Leptanillinae Emery (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomol. Basil. 2: 427-488 (page 433, Leptanilla senior synonym of Leptomesites; page 427, Revision of genus)
  • Bolton, B. 1990d. The higher classification of the ant subfamily Leptanillinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Syst. Entomol. 15: 267-282 (page 276, Leptanilla in Leptanillinae, Leptanillini)
  • Bolton, B. 1994. Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 222 pp. (page 70, Leptanilla in Leptanillinae, Leptanillini)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 152, Leptanilla in Leptanillinae, Leptanillini)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 72, Leptanilla in Myrmicinae)
  • Dlussky, G. M.; Fedoseeva, E. B. 1988. Origin and early stages of evolution in ants. Pp. 70-144 in: Ponomarenko, A. G. (ed.) Cretaceous biocenotic crisis and insect evolution. Moskva: Nauka, 232 pp. (page 79, Leptanilla in Leptanillinae, Leptanillini)
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1943g. A list of the type-species of the genera and subgenera of the Formicidae. [part]. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 11(10): 617-688 (page 656, Leptanilla in Leptanillinae, Leptanillini)
  • Emery, C. 1870. Studi mirmecologici. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 2: 193-201 (page 196, Leptanilla in Dorylinae [Dorylidae])
  • Emery, C. 1877b. Saggio di un ordinamento naturale dei Mirmicidei, e considerazioni sulla filogenesi delle formiche. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 9: 67-83 (page 81, Leptanilla in Myrmicinae [Myrmicidae])
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 769, Leptanilla in Myrmicinae, Myrmicini)
  • Emery, C. 1904a. Le affinità del genere Leptanilla e i limiti delle Dorylinae. Arch. Zool. Ital. 2: 107-116 (page 116, Leptanilla in Dorylinae)
  • Emery, C. 1910b. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Dorylinae. Genera Insectorum 102: 1-34 (page 32, Leptanilla in Dorylinae, Leptanillini)
  • Emery, C.; Forel, A. 1879. Catalogue des Formicides d'Europe. Mitt. Schweiz. Entomol. Ges. 5: 441-481 (page 456, Leptanilla in Myrmicinae [Myrmicidae])
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 240, Leptanilla in Dorylinae, Leptanillini)
  • Hölldobler, B.; Wilson, E. O. 1990. The ants. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, xii + 732 pp. (page 12, Leptanilla in Leptanillinae, Leptanillini)
  • Masuko K, 1989. Larval hemolymph feeding in the ant Leptanilla japonica by use of a specialized duct organ, the "larval hemolymph tap" (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 24: 127-132.
  • Masuko K, 1990. Behavior and ecology of the enigmatic ant Leptanilla japonica Baroni Urbani (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Leptanillinae). Insectes Sociaux 37: 31-57
  • Ogata K., M. Terayama and M. Masuko. 1995. The ant genus Leptanilla: discovery of the worker-associated male of L. japonica, and a description of a new species from Taiwan (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Leptanillinae). Systematic Entomology. 20:27-34.
  • Scupola, A. and R. Ballarin. 2009. The genus Leptanilla Emery, 1870 in Sicily (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecologische Nachrichten 12: 129-132.
  • Wheeler, G. C. 1928. The larva of Leptanilla (Hym.: Formicidae). Psyche (Camb.) 35: 85-91 (page 89, Leptanilla in Leptanillinae, Leptanillini)
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1985b. A simplified conspectus of the Formicidae. Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc. 111: 255-264 (page 256, Leptanilla in Leptanillinae, Leptanillini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 138, Leptanilla in Dorylinae, Leptanillini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 636, Leptanilla in Dorylinae, Leptanillini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1923g. Social life among the insects. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., vii + 375 pp. (page 335, Leptanilla in Leptanillinae, Leptanillini)