Leptomyrmex rothneyi

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Leptomyrmex rothneyi
Leptomyrmex rothneyi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Tribe: Leptomyrmecini
Genus: Leptomyrmex
Species: L. rothneyi
Binomial name
Leptomyrmex rothneyi
Forel, 1902

Leptomyrmex rothneyi side view

Leptomyrmex rothneyi top view

Specimen labels

Leptomyrmex rothneyi has been recorded in rainforest, open rainforest, wet sclerophyll, dry sclerophyll and coastal sclerophylL. Nests occur in soil and in or under logs.

At a Glance • Replete Workers  


Leptomyrmex rothneyi bears a distinctively narrowed, dorsoventrally flattened constriction at the posterior margin of the head. This necklike structure is also present, but less exaggerated, in the closely related species Leptomyrmex ruficeps and Leptomyrmex rufipes. Coloration can help to distinguish these three: L. rothneyi has a black gaster, a pale orange mesosoma and a dark head which is a mottled brown rather than uniformly black, and often the pronotum and forecoxae are also dark and mottled. In contrast, L. ruficeps is black with a red head, and L. rufipes is pale with a black gaster. L. rothneyi can be distinguished from other Leptomyrmex based on head shape and geographic range; this species occurs only in the southeast corner of Queensland. (Lucky and Ward 2010)

Identification Keys including this Taxon


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -28.65472° to -28.65472°.

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 have yet to be collected.


Colour variation in L. rothneyi.

Leptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-002042 head 16-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-002042 side 12.5-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-002042 top 12.5-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-002042 labels-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-062458 head 20-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-062458 side 12.5-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-062458 top 12.5-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-062458 labels-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-062460 head 16-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-062460 side 12.5-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-062460 top 12.5-Antwiki.jpgLeptomyrmex rothneyi ANIC32-062460 labels-Antwiki.jpg



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.

  • rothneyi. Leptomyrmex varians var. rothneyi Forel, 1902h: 473 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Lucky & Ward, 2010: 48 (m.). Subspecies of varians: Wheeler, W.M. 1934c: 102. Raised to species: Lucky & Ward, 2010: 47.

Type Material

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) – HL 2.32–2.45, HW 1.29–1.39, MFC 0.30–0.34, IOD 0.70–0.80, SL 4.05–4.36, EL 0.45–0.51, WL 4.30–4.56, PW 1.13–1.19, DPW 0.46–0.51, HTL 5.23–5.67, HTWmin 0.15–0.18, HTWmax 0.21–0.24, CI 0.55–0.57, SI 3.12–3.24, OI 0.13–0.14, HTC 0.64–0.86.

As in Leptomyrmex rufipes: Medium sized species head long and slender, excluding mandibles nearly twice as long as broad. Head widest just anterior to eye level. Sides of head subparallel, narrowing anteriorly, genae slightly concave. Head posterior to eyes narrowing abruptly to dorsoventrally flattened neck-like constriction, projecting posteriorly. Masticatory margin of mandible with 15 to 20 teeth and denticles interspersed. Anterior clypeal margin flat to weakly concave. Eyes positioned posterior to midline of head, relatively elongate, hairless, not surpassing margins of head. Antennae not compressed, scapes surpassing posterior margin of head by 2/3 their length.

Pronotum slender, elongate. Propodeum short, dorsal face slightly impressed tranversely at anterior end, declivitous face short and convex, angle very rounded. Petiole triangular in profile, anterior and posterior faces with median longitudinal impression, dorsum lacking an impression, posterior face longer than anterior face. Ventral surface of petiole nearly flat. Gaster elongate-elliptical. Legs very long and slender, not compressed.

Surface very finely shagreened and somewhat shining throughout. Mandibles with a coarse row of punctures along margin. Pubescence pale, sparse. Hairs minimal, confined to clypeus, venter and gaster. Body coloration dark, generally mottled brown and rufotestaceous, with antennae uniformly dark brown and antennae uniformly rufotestaceous. Femora solid dark brown, with proximal portion pale and coxae mottled dark and light. Tibiae and tarsi pale yellow. Pronotum dark brown, mottled, with the remainder of thorax rufotestaceous with variable brown mottling. Gaster solid black with terminal gastral segments yellow.


Lucky and Ward (2010) – measurements (n = 4) HL 1.76–1.91, HW 1.27–1.33, SL 0.44–0.51, EL 0.65–0.73, HTL 4.49–4.89, CI 0.69–0.72, SI 0.35–0.39, SI2 0.71–0.82.


  • Lucky, A. 2011. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of the spider ants, genus Leptomyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59: 281-292. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.03.004
  • Lucky, A. & Ward, P.S. 2010. Taxonomic revision of the ant genus Leptomyrmex Mayr. Zootaxa 2688: 1-67. PDF

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.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1934. A second revision of the ants of the genus Leptomyrmex Mayr. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 77: 69-118.