Messor ibericus

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Messor ibericus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Stenammini
Genus: Messor
Species group: structor
Species: M. ibericus
Binomial name
Messor ibericus
Santschi, 1931

Messor ibericus casent0904129 p 1 high.jpg

Messor ibericus casent0904129 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


Multi-coloniality and swarming flights reported from Mainz, Germany (Heller, 1971). In Greece, Salata & Borowiec (2019) found this to be the most common species of the Messor structor group, well distinguished by small gynes. Noted from various types of habitats, mostly open such as pastures, roadsides, stone hills, ruderal places in villages but also inside open pine forests, olive plantations, open oak forests from sea coast up to 1450 m a.s.l. It prefers warm open habitats and in Achaia, Greece, was observed in rural sites in urban areas, mountain pastures and luminous fir forest (Borowiec & Salata, 2021).

Photo Gallery

  • Major worker of the seed-harvester Messor ibericus guarding its nest entry. This is the only Messor species known from Germany, with a particularly large population near the ruins of a roman aqueduct in the city of Mainz. Photo by Phil Honle.


Steiner et al. (2018) - Worker and queen. Colour generally lighter than in Messor muticus and Messor ponticus. Rugosity of cuticular surface more regular than in Messor structor, rugae sometimes parallel. Discrimination from M. structor and M. muticus by short 1st funicular segment and by base of scape without lobe but with a small tooth-like processus. Discrimination from all four species by finely costate base of mesopleuron. Head costate almost throughout unlike in M. ponticus, and costae less regular than in Messor mcarthuri. Setae more abundant on side of head than in M. ponticus, similarly to M. structor, M. muticus, and M. mcarthuri. Petiole not as costulate as in M. mcarthuri. Discrimination from M. ponticus, M. structor, and M. muticus by 1st gastral tergite’s entirely imbricate surface.

Worker. Size similar to M. structor and M. muticus, major workers usually smaller than in M. ponticus and M. mcarthuri. For individuals difficult to discriminate from M. structor using qualitative morphology, linear discriminant function is available.

Queen. Smallest and only species with microreticulate and not shining surface of anepisternum and katepisternum among all five species.


This is a common species but still unrecorded from the Aegean Islands, Cyclades and Sterea Ellas (Borowiec et al., 2022).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 50.05° to 34.8°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Bulgaria, Croatia (type locality), France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain (type locality), Switzerland.

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.


mtDNA: Six haplotypes of COI (1375 bp) known; (Gen-Bank).



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

  • ibericus. Messor structor var. ibericus Santschi, 1925g: 343.
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Steiner, Csösz, et al. 2018: 398), 1 paralectotype worker.
    • Type-locality: lectotype Spain: Cataluña, Gavá, vii.1894 (A. Cabrera); paralectotype with same data.
    • Type-depository: MSNG.
    • [First available use of Messor barbarus subsp. structor var. iberica Emery, 1922c: 92 (w.) SPAIN; unavailable (infrasubspecific) name.]
    • [Note: taxon based on M. barbarus r. sordidus (Forel, 1892g: 452), sensu Bondroit, 1918: 152, misidentification.]
    • Santschi, 1931a: 4 (m.).
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Emery, 1924c: 164.
    • Subspecies of structor: Santschi, 1931a: 4; Santschi, 1932c: 69.
    • Subspecies of barbarus: Ceballos, 1956: 302.
    • Status as species: Collingwood, 1978: 68, 81 (in key); Bolton, 1995b: 254; Borowiec, L. 2014: 107; Steiner, Csösz, et al. 2018: 398 (redescription); Salata & Borowiec, 2018c: 46; Seifert, 2018: 176; Salata & Borowiec, 2019a: 60.
    • Senior synonym of novaki: Steiner, Csösz, et al. 2018: supplementary material, 8.
    • Distribution: Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland..
  • novaki. Messor structor subsp. novaki Finzi, 1929: 92 (w.) CROATIA.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: Croatia (“central Dalmatia”): Siveric, (P. Novak).
    • Type-depository: MCZC, perhaps also IEUB.
    • Junior synonym of structor: Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 114; Bolton, 1995b: 256.
    • Junior synonym of ibericus: Steiner, Csösz, et al. 2018: supplementary material, 8.

Taxonomic Notes

Salata & Borowiec (2019):

  • As Messor structor (Latreille, 1798): Borowiec and Salata, 2012: 514 (misinterpretation).
  • As Messor cf. structor: Borowiec and Salata, 2014: 511, 2017b: 214, 2018a: 8; Bračko et al., 2016: 23.

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


Steiner et al. (2018) - Worker and queen. Colour: Head and mesosoma light brown to brownish red, gaster brown to dark brown. Major worker mostly dark brown. Queen dark brown. Size: Medium. Queen small, similar in size to major. Head: Entirely sculptured with mostly parallel costae, which usually bifurcate above eye level. Sculpture disappears gradually above eye level, at least on vertex. Postocular region on side of head can lack costae, but microsculpture always present. Erect setae abundant on side of head from occiput to mandibular insertion. Scape: Base without lobe, tooth-like processus directed mostly downward. 1st funicular segment short and flattened, longer than 2nd segment, but shorter than 2nd and 3rd segments together. Clypeus: Median notch well-defined, but shallow in some minor workers. Pronotum: Median costae often arched, middle of pronotum often smooth. Mesonotum: Densely sculptured throughout, costae transverse and mostly parallel. Mesopleuron: Densely sculptured with fine, irregular costulae with dense punctuation among them, even in minor worker. Propodeum: Mostly rounded; rarely angulated in major worker; smoothly rounded in minor worker. Parallel costae on side. Surface of 1st gaster tergite: Entire surface imbricate.

Queen: Metanotum: Densely sculptured throughout, costae transverse and mostly parallel. Anepisternum: Microreticulate. Katepisternum: Middle microreticulate, side additionally with parallel longitudinal costulae.

Type Material

Steiner et al. (2018) - 1 lectotype worker by present designation, upper individual on pin with two workers labelled “Cataluna Gavá: VII.94. (Nov.) A. Cabrera Aphaenogaster (Messor) barbara r. sordida Forel. A. Cabrera, Cataluna Gavá: VII.94. (Nov.) A. Cabrera Aphaenogaster (Messor) barbara r. sordida Forel. A. Cabrera, SYNTYPUS Messor structor var. ibericus Santschi, 1931, Museo Genova coll. C. Emery (dono 1925)”; 1 paralectotype worker by present designation, lower individual on same pin as lectotype, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Borowiec L. 2014. Catalogue of ants of Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and adjacent regions (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Genus (Wroclaw) 25(1-2): 1-340.
  • Salata S., L. Borowiec, and A.Trichas. 2018. Taxonomic Revision of the Cretan Fauna of the Genus Temnothorax Mayr, 1861 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with Notes on the Endemism of Ant Fauna of Crete. Annales Zoologici (Warsaw) 68(4): 769-808.
  • Salata S., and L. Borowiec. 2018. A new species of the ant genus Lasius Fabricius, 1804 from Crete (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). ZooKeys 789: 139–159.
  • Salata S., and L. Borowiec. 2018. Taxonomic and faunistic notes on Greek ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Annals of the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom Entomology 27: 1-51.
  • Salata S., and L. Borowiec. 2019. Preliminary contributions toward a revision of Greek Messor Forel, 1890 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Turkish Journal of Zoology 43: 52-67.
  • Salata S., and L. Borowiec. 2019. Preliminary division of not socially parasitic Greek Temnothorax Mayr, 1861 (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) with a description of three new species. ZooKeys 877: 81-131.
  • Santschi F. 1925. Fourmis d'Espagne et autres espéces paléartiques EOS (Revista española de entomología) 1: 339-360.
  • Santschi, F.. "Fourmis d'Espagne et autres espéces paléartiques." EOS (Revista española de entomología) 1 (1925): 339-360.
  • Schifani E., and A. Alicata. 2018. Exploring the myrmecofauna of Sicily: thirty-two new ant species recorded, including six new to Italy and many new aliens (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Polish Journal of Entomology 87 (4): 323–348.
  • Steiner F. M., S. Csosz, B. Marko, A. Gamisch, L. Rinnhofer, C. Folterbauer, S. Hammerle, C. Stauffer, W. Arthofer, B. C. Schlick‐Steiner. 2018. Turning one into five: Integrative taxonomy uncovers complex evolution of cryptic species in the harvester ant Messor “structor”. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution