Leptogenys maxillosa

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Leptogenys maxillosa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Leptogenys
Species group: maxillosa
Species: L. maxillosa
Binomial name
Leptogenys maxillosa
(Smith, F., 1858)

Leptogenys maxillosa casent0101496 profile 1.jpg

Leptogenys maxillosa casent0101496 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Leptogenys maxillosa is widely distributed at lower elevations between 7 m and 90 m in the dry forest habitats of Comoros Island and Reunion, in mixed forest sites in Seychelles, and in littoral forest areas in the north of Madagascar. Specimens of this species also inhabit environments modified by human activities such as houses and urban gardens. These findings imply that L. maxillosa may have been introduced to the Malagasy region, although its first description was based on worker specimens from Mauritius. This species forages on the forest floor and on low vegetation, and its colonies can be found in rotten logs, rotting tree stumps, rotten pockets, and under the bark of live trees. (Rakotonirina and Fisher 2014)


A member of the maxillosa species group. Lattke (2011) - Body mostly opaque, with rough pruinosity; hypostomal teeth visible in cephalic full-face view, anterior clypeal margin forms obtuse angle medially bordered by narrow translucent lamella, not differentiated into median clypeal lobe and lateral lobes; clypeal apex with 2 setae; posterior protibial apex with single seta; subpetiolar process shaped as triangular lobe with long posterior slope.

Rakotonirina and Fisher (2014) - Worker. Mandible not closing tightly against clypeus; dorsum of body without standing hairs, but covered with dense pubescence; sculptures shagreenate; anteromedian lobe of clypeus covered with narrowly angulate translucent lamella; two peg-like setae projecting anteriorly from anterior margin of median lobe; in dorsal view, petiolar node broader than long.

Leptogenys maxillosa can be separated from Leptogenys falcigera by the shape of its petiolar node, which is wider than long. In L. maxillosa, the anteromedian lobe of the clypeus is fringed by a narrow and obtusely angulate translucent lamella, while in Leptogenys pavesii, this fringing lamella is wide and broadly rounded.

Keys including this Species


This is a tramp species of African origin with Neotropical locality records in Cuba and Brazil (Bolton 1975), but given increased globalisation this species could be present in other sites especially close to major ports. Known from southeastern Brazil, Cuba, Philippines, Lesser Antilles, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Comoros, Seychelles, Réunion, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Barbados.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Namibia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Zimbabwe.
Indo-Australian Region: Philippines.
Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Mauritius (type locality), Réunion, Seychelles.
Neotropical Region: Barbados, Brazil, Cuba, Lesser Antilles.
Palaearctic Region: Oman.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Specimens from São Paulo, Brazil were taken in urban areas, with some nesting in cracks and fissures of walls in preformed cavities (Freitas 1995). The species referred to as Leptogenys propefalcigera by Freitas (1995) is probably L. maxillosa since specimens studied in the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo coincide with the collection data cited in the publication. The studies by Freitas (1995) point to specialised depredation on sowbugs, and a high frequency of nest relocation, with one colony relocating 17 times within 50 days. (Lattke 2011)





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

  • maxillosa. Ponera maxillosa Smith, F. 1858b: 93 (w.m.) MAURITIUS. Combination in Leptogenys: Roger, 1861a: 43. Senior synonym of falcata: Forel, 1901h: 46; Bolton, 1975a: 254; of cribrata, vinsonnella: Bolton, 1975a: 254. See also: Lattke, 2011: 188.
  • falcata. Leptogenys falcata Roger, 1861a: 42 (w.) CUBA. Roger, 1862a: 244 (m.). Junior synonym of maxillosa: Forel, 1901h: 46. Revived from synonymy as subspecies of maxillosa: Emery, 1911d: 99; Wheeler, W.M. 1913b: 482. Junior synonym of maxillosa: Bolton, 1975a: 254.
  • vinsonnella. Formica vinsonnella Dufour, 1864: 210 (w.) REUNION I. Combination in Leptogenys: Emery, 1894a: 68. Subspecies of maxillosa: Emery, 1894a: 68; Forel, 1895a: 49. Junior synonym of maxillosa: Bolton, 1975a: 254.
  • cribrata. Leptogenys cribrata Emery, 1895h: 20 (w.) SOUTH AFRICA. Junior synonym of maxillosa: Bolton, 1975a: 254.

Type Material

  • Ponera maxillosa: Lectotype (designated by Rakotonirina & Fisher, 2014: 111), Mauritius.

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

Ponera maxillosa

Four worker syntypes and two male syntypes in The Natural History Museum. Labelled “Mauritius. 57/140.” Acc. Reg.: “1857 no. 140. Mauritius. Purchased of Dr Beke.”

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

Lattke (2011) - The sculpturing of this species, lack of standing hairs and elongate mandibles bears resemblance to similar traits in the wheeleri group. Please refer to the discussion for the maxillosa group for characters that will separate the two species groups. The L. falcata syntypes consist of two workers and a male from the Humboldt Universität collection that bear a green Cuba label, Diehl; Type. One worker is in excellent condition, the other is missing the gaster posterad of the third abdominal segment and an antenna. All specimens are point-mounted.



Lattke (2011) - Metrics (n = 3) : HL 1.32 – 1.49; HW 1.34 – 1.54; ML 1.09 – 1.27; EL 0.30 – 0.33; SL 1.32 – 1.42; PW 0.89 – 0.99; WL 2.18 – 2.53; PH 0.89 – 0.96; PL 0.61 – 0.76; DPW 0.68–0.68 mm. CI 0.97–1.03; MI 0.80–0.82; OI 0.20 – 0.24; SI 0.92 – 0.99; LPI 1.27 – 1.46; DPI 0.90 – 1.13.

Head subquadrate in full-face view, widest just before eye or at eye level; lateral cephalic margin convex; posterior margin broadly convex; eyes large and flattened, length covers a fourth of lateral cephalic margin. Head with opaque pruinosity, clypeus rugulose, not opaque. Scape surpasses posterior cephalic margin by at least 2 apical widths, lacking standing hairs but with fine appressed pubescence; second funicular segment more than 2 × longer than wide, third about 2 × longer than wide and first about 1.5 × longer than wide. Anterior clypeal margin convex, forming blunt obtuse angle, bordered by narrow, translucent lamella; long hairs present along clypeal anterior margin, two median long hairs and two median setae present in front of lamella. Mandible arched, especially basad; parallel-sided and elongate, mostly smooth and shining, basally with rugulose opaque sculpturing that narrows and extends along mandible external margin; masticatory margin brief and edentate. Hypostomal teeth partially visible in cephalic full-face view.

Mesosoma in lateral view mostly continuously convex, metanotal groove broad and weakly impressed; mesosomal sculpting as in head; meso-metapleural suture well impressed; metapleural propodeal suture mostly effaced, best marked close to propodeal spiracle; spiracle elongate and slit shaped, slightly arched. In lateral view declivitous margin straight to slightly curved, separated from dorsal margin by blunt angle. Propodeum without teeth, at most with low angular lobe. No standing hairs.

Petiole in lateral view tilted anterad with semi-parallel anterior and posterior margins and a broadly curved dorsal margin; higher than long; process subquadrate with anterior and and posterior angles, with long posterior margin. Petiole shorter than long in dorsal view. Gastric sculpture more shining than mesosoma, not with rough pruinosity; fine reticule with shallow punctae with rounded edges, separated from each other by a length approximately equal to their width. Procoxa shining in lateral view. Body lacking standing pilosity except for clypeus, ventral parts of body, apex of gaster. Color grey to grey brown for body, antennae; mandibles, clypeus, legs brown. Head grey to grey brown in color.

Type Material

Rakotonirina and Fisher (2014) - Lectotype worker, present designation, Mauritius (Dr. Beke), AntWeb specimen code: CASENT0102266 (The Natural History Museum). Paralectotype male, with same data as lectotype but with specimen code: CASENT0102267 (BMNH) [examined].

Lattke (2011) - The L. falcata syntypes consist of two workers and a male from the Humboldt Universität collection that bear a green Cuba label, Diehl; Type. One worker is in excellent condition, the other is missing the gaster posterad of the third abdominal segment and an antenna. All specimens are point-mounted.

Leptogenys falcata. Syntype workers: Cuba (Diehl) (Berlin Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität) [examined].

Formica vinsonnella. Holotype? worker: Réunion, sugar cane plantation (Vinson) [not examined].

Leptogenys cribrata. Syntype workers: South Africa, Vrijburg (E. Simon) (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa) [not examined].


  • Bolton, B. 1975a. A revision of the ant genus Leptogenys Roger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Ethiopian region with a review of the Malagasy species. Bull. Br. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) Entomol. 31: 235-305 (page 254, Senior synonym of falcata, cribrata and vinsonnella)
  • Forel, A. 1901m. Formiciden des Naturhistorischen Museums zu Hamburg. Neue Calyptomyrmex-, Dacryon-, Podomyrma- und Echinopla-Arten. Mitt. Naturhist. Mus. Hambg. 18: 43-82 (page 46, Senior synonym of falcata)
  • Lattke, J.E. 2011. Revision of the New World species of the genus Leptogenys Roger (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae). Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny. 69:127-264.
  • Rakotonirina, J.C. & Fisher, B.L. 2014. Revision of the Malagasy ponerine ants of the genus Leptogenys Roger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 3836, 1-163.
  • Roger, J. 1861a. Die Ponera-artigen Ameisen (Schluss). Berl. Entomol. Z. 5: 1-54 (page 43, Combination in Leptogenys)
  • Smith, F. 1858a. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 93, worker, male described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Arnold G. 1915. A monograph of the Formicidae of South Africa. Part I. Ponerinae, Dorylinae. Annals of the South African Museum 14: 1-159.
  • Bolton B. 1975. A revision of the ant genus Leptogenys Roger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Ethiopian region with a review of the Malagasy species. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Entomology 31: 235-305.
  • Emery C. 1895. Voyage de M. E. Simon dans l'Afrique australe (janvier-avril 1893). 3e mémoire. Formicides. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 64: 15-56.
  • Emery C. 1911. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125.
  • Garcia F.H., Wiesel E. and Fischer G. 2013.The Ants of Kenya (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)—Faunal Overview, First Species Checklist, Bibliography, Accounts for All Genera, and Discussion on Taxonomy and Zoogeography. Journal of East African Natural History, 101(2): 127-222
  • IZIKO South Africa Museum Collection
  • Prins A. J. 1963. A list of the ants collected in the Kruger National Park with notes on their distribution. Koedoe 6: 91-108.
  • Prins A. J. 1964. Revised list of the ants collected in the Kruger National Park. Koedoe 7: 77-93.
  • Weber N. A. 1943. The ants of the Imatong Mountains, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 93: 263-389.