Messor decipiens

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Messor decipiens
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Stenammini
Genus: Messor
Species: M. decipiens
Binomial name
Messor decipiens
Santschi, 1917

Messor decipiens casent0281588 p 1 high.jpg

Messor decipiens casent0281588 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels



Very closely related to Messor capensis and Messor piceus, decipiens is separated from the former only on the weak characters (see the worker section under the nomenclature heading below). It is even closer to the latter, being distinguished only by the colour of the hairs (dark pilosity in piceus; pale, white or silverish in decipiens), and the fact that piceus does not have the head distinctly different in colour from the alitrunk in large workers. It seems very probable that more extensive collecting of this complex will reveal that these forms represent but a single species. (Bolton 1982)

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Botswana, Lesotho, Saudi Arabia, South Africa (type locality), Zimbabwe.
Palaearctic Region: Iraq.

It is known to occur in South and East Africa, Saudi Arabia and Iraq (Abdul-Rassoul et al. 2013).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb





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

  • decipiens. Messor capensis st. decipiens Santschi, 1917e: 94 (w.q.) SOUTH AFRICA. [First available use of Stenamma (Messor) barbarum r. capense var. decipiens Forel, 1905b: 177; unavailable name.] Raised to species and senior synonym of arcistriatus, probus: Bolton, 1982: 348.
  • probus. Messor capensis var. probus Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 805 (w.) SOUTH AFRICA. [First available use of Messor barbarus subsp. capensis var. proba Forel, 1911e: 266; unavailable name.] Junior synonym of decipiens: Bolton, 1982: 348.
  • arcistriatus. Messor arcistriatus Santschi, 1928f: 202 (w.) SOUTH AFRICA. Junior synonym of decipiens: Bolton, 1982: 348.

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



Bolton (1982) - Medium to Large, HW 2.64- > 4.20.

Answering to the description of Messor capensis in most particulars. In the HW range quoted above the maximum diameter of the eye is 0.44-0.66, about 0.14-0.18 x HW, and the CI range is 107-121, the largest workers known for decipiens thus being somewhat larger and broader headed than those known for capensis. Propodeum in profile with the dorsum usually meeting the declivity in a right-angle, which may project into a broad but quite short lobe or tooth of variable shape and size; rarely the propodeum merely narrowly rounded. In contrast the propodeum of capensis is generally rounded, only seldom with dentiform prominences. Sculpture of head basically the same as in capensis but here the rugae tending to be more sharply developed and more widely separated, although there is some variation. Spaces between the rugae usually smooth, frequently glossy, much less commonly with traces of punctulate ground-sculpture. Head usually obviously red, contrasting in colour with the alitrunk and gaster which are darker. In smaller workers this distinction in colour is not nearly so obvious and at the lower limit of the size range considered here (and smaller) the ant may be unicoloured.