Myrmecia vindex

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Myrmecia vindex
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmeciinae
Tribe: Myrmeciini
Genus: Myrmecia
Species: M. vindex
Binomial name
Myrmecia vindex
Smith, F., 1858

Myrmecia vindex casent0902796 p 1 high.jpg

Myrmecia vindex casent0902796 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


These ants are visual predators. Typical encounters with even a solitary forager shows that they are a formidable and aggressive species. Nest workers are also always ready to rush out of their mound to attack an intruder (Heterick 2009).


Heterick (2009) - Myrmecia desertorum, Myrmecia fuscipes, Myrmecia gratiosa, Myrmecia nigriceps and Myrmecia vindex are all large to very large, reddish ants with red, brown or black heads and a black gaster.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb



Myrmecia use their large eyes to locate prey and to find their way back to the nest from their foraging forays. Ogawa et al. (2015) were curious about how complex the color reception in ants may be and identified M. vindex as a good candidate for exploring this topic. They provided evidence about photoreceptors in M. vindex and Myrmecia croslandi that show ants can have sophisticated trichromatic color reception. Their abstract (Ogawa et al. 2015): Ants are thought to be special among Hymenopterans in having only dichromatic colour vision based on two spectrally distinct photoreceptors. Many ants are highly visual animals, however, and use vision extensively for navigation. We show here that two congeneric day- and night-active Australian ants have three spectrally distinct photoreceptor types, potentially supporting trichromatic colour vision. Electroretinogram recordings show the presence of three spectral sensitivities with peaks (lmax) at 370, 450 and 550 nm in the night-active Myrmecia vindex and peaks at 370, 470 and 510 nm in the day-active Myrmecia croslandi. Intracellular electrophysiology on individual photoreceptors confirmed that the night-active M. vindex has three spectral sensitivities with peaks (lmax) at 370, 430 and 550 nm. A large number of the intracellular recordings in the night-active M. vindex show unusually broad-band spectral sensitivities, suggesting that photoreceptors may be coupled. Spectral measurements at different temporal frequencies revealed that the ultraviolet receptors are comparatively slow. We discuss the adaptive significance and the probability of trichromacy in Myrmecia ants in the context of dim light vision and visual navigation.




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

  • vindex. Myrmecia vindex Smith, F. 1858b: 144 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Roger, 1861a: 34 (q.); Clark, 1925b: 143 (q.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1971d: 254 (l.). Senior synonym of basirufa: Ogata & Taylor, 1991: 1661. See also: Forel, 1907h: 264; Crawley, 1926: 376; Clark, 1951: 67; Douglas & Brown, 1959: 14; Haskins & Haskins, 1974: 258.
  • basirufa. Myrmecia vindex var. basirufa Forel, 1907h: 264 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Clark, 1951: 71 (q.m.). Junior synonym of vindex: Ogata & Taylor, 1991: 1661.

Type Material

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

Myrmecia vindex

Holotype worker in The Natural History Museum. Labelled “W. Austral 42/19” and with “Mr Moor” on underside of label.

At some time in the past the head has become detached and is now glued to a label whose underside reads “vindex type Sm.”



  • 2n = 74 (Australia) (Hirai et al., 1996).
  • 2n = 76 (Australia) (Hirai et al., 1996).


  • Clark, J. 1925b. The ants of Victoria. Part II. Vic. Nat. (Melb.). 42:135-144. (page 143, queen, male described)
  • Clark, J. 1951. The Formicidae of Australia. 1. Subfamily Myrmeciinae: 230 pp. CSIRO, Melbourne. [(31.xii).1951.]
  • Crawley, W. C. 1926. A revision of some old types of Formicidae. Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 1925:373-393 (page 376, see also)
  • Douglas, A.; Brown, W. L., Jr. 1959. Myrmecia inquilina new species: the first parasite among the lower ants. Insectes Soc. 6:13-19. (page 14, see also)
  • Forel, A. 1907j. Formicidae. In: Michaelsen, W., Hartmeyer, R. (eds.) Die Fauna Südwest-Australiens. Band I, Lieferung 7. Jena: Gustav Fischer, pp. 263-310. (page 264, see also)
  • Haskins, C. P.; Haskins, E. F. 1974. Notes on the necrophoric behaviour in the archaic ant Myrmecia vindex. Psyche. 81:258-267. (page 258, see also)
  • Heterick, B. E. 2009. A guide to the ants of South-western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 76:1-206.
  • Ogata, K.; Taylor, R. W. 1991. Ants of the genus Myrmecia Fabricius: a preliminary review and key to the named species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmeciinae). J. Nat. Hist. 2 25:1623-1673. (page 1661, Senior synonym of basirufa)
  • Ogawa, Y., M. Falkowski, A. Narendra, J. Zeil, and J. M. Hemmi. 2015. Three spectrally distinct photoreceptors in diurnal and nocturnal Australian ants. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences. 282:20150673. doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.0673
  • Roger, J. 1861a. Die Ponera-artigen Ameisen (Schluss). Berl. Entomol. Z. 5:1-54. (page 34, queen described)
  • Smith, F. 1858a. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 144, worker described)
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1971d. Ant larvae of the subfamily Myrmeciinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pan-Pac. Entomol. 47:245-256. (page 254, larva described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Forel A. 1915. Results of Dr. E. Mjöbergs Swedish Scientific Expeditions to Australia 1910-13. 2. Ameisen. Ark. Zool. 9(16): 1-119
  • Ogata K. and Taylor R.W. 1991. Ants of the genus Myrmecia Fabricius: a preliminary review and key to the named species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmeciinae), Journal of Natural History, 25: 1623-1673