Leptomyrmex darlingtoni

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Leptomyrmex darlingtoni
Leptomyrmex darlingtoni
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Tribe: Leptomyrmecini
Genus: Leptomyrmex
Species: L. darlingtoni
Binomial name
Leptomyrmex darlingtoni
Wheeler, W.M., 1934

Leptomyrmex darlingtoni side view

Leptomyrmex darlingtoni top view

Specimen labels


Leptomyrmex darlingtoni has been recorded from rainforest, savannah, Araucaria forest and Eucalyptus woodland, in ground nests

At a Glance • Replete Workers  


Leptomyrmex darlingtoni is distinctive for its small size and restricted geographic range. This species can be distinguished from its only sympatric congener, Leptomyrmex rufipes, by its smaller size, HW 0.94–1.03 mm; WL 3.11–3.30 mm (L. rufipes HW 1.08–1.39 mm; WL 3.61–4.52mm), and the rounded postocular portion of the head, which lacks the neck-like constriction of L. rufipes. (Lucky and Ward 2010)

Identification Keys including this Taxon


it is found only on Cape York Peninsula, as far south as the vicinity of Cooktown.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -10.68333333° to -33.83332825°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


Explore-icon.png Explore Overview of Leptomyrmex biology 
These conspicuous ants are most often encountered individually or as small groups of 2 or 3 foragers on the surface of the ground any time of the day or night. Because of their long legs and thin bodies, they superficially resemble spiders. This is especially true when they are disturbed, as they extend their legs, raise their gasters, and run quickly to escape danger. This has led to their being given the common name "spider ants."

Nests are found in soil or in dead wood, either standing or on the ground, and are often at the base of trees. Colony sizes average a few hundred workers and a single queen. In all but a handful of species, the queen is wingless and worker-like, differing from workers only in being slightly larger and with an enlarged mesosoma. In a few species the queens are fully winged, as they are in most other ants.

When a large source of food is found, workers of Leptomyrmex will return to their nest and recruit additional workers to help utilise the newly found resource. They also use workers as "living storage vessels". These special workers, called repletes, accept liquids from returning foragers who transfer their liquid foods to these selected workers. These special workers continue to accept liquids until their gasters become greatly enlarged and extended. When enlarged, repletes cannot escape the nest and remain inside suspended from the ceiling. They can retain these fluids for extended periods and dispense it on demand when food is in short supply. ‎


Queens of this species have not been collected.


Images from AntWeb

Leptomyrmex darlingtoni casent0012024 head 2.jpgLeptomyrmex darlingtoni casent0012024 profile 2.jpgLeptomyrmex darlingtoni casent0012024 head 1.jpgLeptomyrmex darlingtoni casent0012024 profile 1.jpgLeptomyrmex darlingtoni casent0012024 dorsal 1.jpgLeptomyrmex darlingtoni casent0012024 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0012024. Photographer Andrea Lucky, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ANIC, Canberra, Australia.



Leptomyrmex neotropicus (fossil only)

Leptomyrmex relictus


Leptomyrmex burwelli

Leptomyrmex dolichoscapus


Leptomyrmex mjobergi

Leptomyrmex varians

Leptomyrmex unicolor

Leptomyrmex flavitarsus

Leptomyrmex puberulus

Leptomyrmex darlingtoni

Leptomyrmex fragilis

Leptomyrmex niger

Leptomyrmex erythrocephalus

Leptomyrmex wiburdi

Leptomyrmex cnemidatus

Leptomyrmex nigriventris

Leptomyrmex tibialis

Leptomyrmex geniculatus

Leptomyrmex nigriceps

Leptomyrmex pallens

Leptomyrmex rufithorax

Leptomyrmex rufipes

Leptomyrmex rothneyi

Leptomyrmex ruficeps

Based on Barden et al., 2017. Note only selected Leptomyrmex species are included.


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

  • darlingtoni. Leptomyrmex darlingtoni Wheeler, W.M. 1934c: 104, fig. 13 (w.m.) AUSTRALIA. Senior synonym of fascigaster, jucundus: Lucky & Ward, 2010: 29.
  • fascigaster. Leptomyrmex darlingtoni subsp. fascigaster Wheeler, W.M. 1934c: 107 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Junior synonym of darlingtoni: Lucky & Ward, 2010: 29.
  • jucundus. Leptomyrmex darlingtoni subsp. jucundus Wheeler, W.M. 1934c: 107 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Junior synonym of darlingtoni: Lucky & Ward, 2010: 29.

Type Material

Described from numerous workers and two males taken by Dr. P. J. Darlington from a single colony at Lankelly Creek, in the McIlthwaite Range, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. There are several fine repletes among the workers.

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



Lucky and Ward (2010) – measurements (n = 7) HL 1.60–1.72, HW 0.94–1.03, MFC 0.18–0.21, IOD 0.56–0.62, SL 3.36–3.73, EL 0.35–0.38, WL 3.11–3.30, PW 0.85–0.92, DPW 0.31–0.34, HTL 2.87–4.19, HTWmin 0.11–0.14, HTWmax 0.21–0.24, CI 0.56–0.62, SI 3.51–3.77, OI 0.09–0.11, HTC 0.50–0.61.

Small species (HW 0.94–1.03 mm; WL 3.11–3.30 mm) with head, excluding mandibles, less than twice as long as broad (CI 0.56–0.62) and widest at eye level. Sides of head straight, genae parallel and slightly concave. Behind the eyes, sides gently rounding to a flat postocular margin. Masticatory margin of mandible with approximately 15 small, irregular teeth and denticles. Anterior clypeal margin weakly concave medially. Eyes positioned posterior to midline of head, relatively large and convex, hairless, not surpassing lateral margins of head. Antennae extremely long and slender (SI 3.51–3.77), somewhat compressed, scapes surpassing posterior margin of head by 3/5 their length.

Pronotum slender, distinctly elongate. Propodeum short, not much longer than broad, propodeal angle very rounded, dorsal face weakly convex, declivitous face short. Gently sloping petiolar node a triangular wedge with broad base, anterior and posterior faces meeting at sharp angle, in profile anterior face 2/3 length of posterior face, ventral surface of petiole weakly convex. Gaster elongate-elliptical. Legs very long and slender tibiae compressed but not dramatically so (HTC 0.50–0.61).

Surface very finely shagreened and somewhat shining throughout. Pubescence white, moderately dense over whole surface. Pilosity sparse, confined to clypeus, mandibles, apical portions of the tibiae, gastral ventrites and 4th (apical) tergite. Pilosity lacking on the 6th abdominal tergite. Head and antennae rufotestaceous, but color pattern on remainder of body variable, ranging from dark with rufotestaceous legs to rufotestaceous body with black gaster and legs dark reddish brown with testaceous joints. An entirely pale yellow form is also known. Femora and tibiae. Intermediate forms may be mottled with dark spots on a pale thorax, with gaster either entirely black or with first tergite pale.


Lucky and Ward (2010) – measurements (n = 2) HL 1.40–1.44, HW 0.93–1.02, SL 0.37–0.38, EL 0.53–0.58, HTL 3.12–3.22, CI 0.66–0.70, SI 0.36–0.40, SI2 1.20–1.37.

Wheeler (1934) - Head narrow, without the mandibles nearly twice as long as the ocular diameter. Eyes very large and prominent, placed at the middle of the sides; postocular region subtrapezoidal, its posterior border straight, as broad as the length of the adjacent sides; cheeks plus the outer corners of the clypeus nearly as long as the eyes, feebly concave and somewhat converging anteriorly. Ocelli large and prominent. Mandibles slender with acute tips, their masticatory border without denticles, much longer than the internal border and forming with it a distinct but rounded angle. Clypeus nearly as long as broad, with straight anterior border. Antennae as long as the body; scapes somewhat less than three times as long as broad; first funicular joint slightly longer than broad, the second only a little longer; joints 3-5 much longer, the third bent near its apex, the fourth and fifth more uniformly bowed. Thorax rather short compared with that of other species, mesepisterna very prominent; mesonotum longer than broad, narrowed anteriorly, epinotum less than twice as long as broad, its base in profile rather straight, sloping, twice as long as the more sloping declivity and passing into it without a perceptible angle. Petiole somewhat longer than broad, its node much lower than in the worker, in profile straight and horizontal in' the middle, convex in front and sloping behind. Gaster clavate, its first segment narrowed anteriorly, the genitalia large and extruded, of a very different structure from those of the other species; squamulae separated at the base; stipites narrowed at the base, with broad, bilobed tips; volsellae large, flattened, bearing at their tips a curved three-pronged crosspiece, the longest slender and acute prong directed posteriorly; sagittae forming a large keel-shaped structure, with its ventral border regularly serrate. Legs very long and slender, hind femora constricted and flexed in the middle; all the tibiae bisinuately bent. Wings short and narrow, measuring only 6 mm.; pterostigmal appendage vestigial, reduced to a mere nodule; basal half of cubitus absent.

Sculpture, pilosity and pubescence as in the worker, but the coxae and legs without hairs; squamulae very smooth and shining; hairs on the borders of the stipites long and delicate but not dense.


  • Lucky, A. 2011. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of the spider ants, genus Leptomyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59: 281-292.
  • Lucky, A. & Ward, P.S. 2010. Taxonomic revision of the ant genus Leptomyrmex Mayr. Zootaxa 2688: 1-67.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1934c. A second revision of the ants of the genus Leptomyrmex Mayr. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 77: 69-118 (page 104, fig. 13 worker, male described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Lucky A., and P. S. Ward. 2010. Taxonomic revision of the ant genus Leptomyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 2688: 1-67.
  • Shattuck S. O. 1994. Taxonomic catalog of the ant subfamilies Aneuretinae and Dolichoderinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). University of California Publications in Entomology 112: i-xix, 1-241.
  • Taylor R. W. 1987. A checklist of the ants of Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) Division of Entomology Report 41: 1-92.