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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Stenammini
Genus: Novomessor
Emery, 1915
Type species
Aphaenogaster cockerelli, now Novomessor cockerelli
3 species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)

Aphaenogaster cockerelli castype00622 profile 1.jpg

Aphaenogaster cockerelli castype00622 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Evolutionary Relationships

  (2 genera)

  (3 genera)


  (85 species)

  (3 species)

  (11 species)

  (226 species)

  (226 species)

  (163 species)

  (10 species)

  (12 species)

  (22 genera)

  (49 genera)

  (65 genera)

Based on Ward et al., 2014

A small genus of xeriphilous ants that inhabit the desert southwest of North America.


Demarco and Cognato (2015) - Morphological characters that separate Novomessor from Aphaenogaster include a head width and length each of greater than 2mm, and a striated frontal triangle above the clypeus. The intraocular distance is 1.4mm or greater. The distance between the tips of the spines is greater than 0.56mm and the spine length is 1mm or longer. The Weber’s length is 3mm or greater, and the promesonotal suture is indistinct or absent. Characters that diagnose Messor from Novomessor include a large metasternal process in Messor, which is smaller in Novomessor, and a quadrate head in Messor, which is elongate in Novomessor. In addition, Novomessor has no constriction of the postpetiole at the gaster, Messor and Veromessor have a slight constriction, and Aphaenogaster has a strong constriction.

AntWeb icon 02.png See images of species within this genus

Keys including this Genus


Keys to Species in this Genus


Demarco and Cognato (2015) - Novomessor albisetosus and Novomessor cockerelli occur in southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southwestern Texas, and northern Mexico at elevations from 150 to 300 m. N. cockerelli is found on the desert floor, with large, crater-like nest entrances surrounded by coarse gravel. N. albisetosus is found near N. cockerelli, but their nests occur in the desert foothills, under flat rocks or stones, and are surrounded by gravel. Novomessor ensifer has only been found in Mexico, in sandy soil with large stones present (Kannowski 1954).

Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


Demarco and Cognato (2015) - Both Novomessor cockerelli and Novomessor albisetosus forage late in the day and into evening, and feed upon small insects, seeds, and bits of plant tissue (Cook, 1953). Kannowski (1954) describes a different foraging pattern for Novomessor ensifer. He observed them foraging in the early morning and late afternoon, and also only observed them feeding on insects, but no plant material. He also found no plant pieces or seeds in their nests.



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

  • NOVOMESSOR [junior synonym of Aphaenogaster]
    • Novomessor Emery, 1915d: 73. Type-species: Aphaenogaster (Ischnomyrmex) cockerelli, by original designation.
    • Novomessor junior synonym of Aphaenogaster: Brown, 1974b: 47.
    • Novomessor revived from synonymy: Hölldobler, Stanton & Engel, 1976: 32.
    • Novomessor junior synonym of Aphaenogaster: Bolton, 1982: 364 (discussion pp. 339-341); Bolton, 1994: 106.
    • Novomessor revived from synonymy: Demarco & Cognato, 2015: 5.

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


Demarco and Cognato (2015) - Workers in Novomessor are 8–8.5mm in length and reddish brown. The head in all three species is longer than it is wide, the mesosoma has long transverse rugae, and the gaster is darker than the head. Novomessor albisetosus and Novomessor cockerelli have long hairs under the head resembling a psammophore, while Novomessor ensifer has only short hairs. They have well-developed propodeal spines, averaging 1mm in length. N. albisetosus and N. cockerelli can be difficult to distinguish from each other, but the long wavy rugae on the head end at the top of the eyes in N. cockerelli and extend to the occiput in N. albisetosus.


  • Bolton, B. 1982. Afrotropical species of the myrmecine ant genera Cardiocondyla, Leptothorax, Melissotarsus, Messor and Cataulacus (Formicidae). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Entomology, 46: 307-370 (page 364, Novomessor as junior synonym of Aphaenogaster)
  • Bolton, B. 1994. Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 222 pp. (page 106, Novomessor as junior synonym of Aphaenogaster)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 229, Novomessor as junior synonym of Aphaenogaster)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1974b. Novomessor manni a synonym of Aphaenogaster ensifera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomol. News 85: 45-47 (page 47, Novomessor as junior synonym of Aphaenogaster)
  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 155, Novomessor as genus)
  • Demarco, B.B. & Cognato, A.I. 2015. Phylogenetic analysis of Aphaenogaster supports the resurrection of Novomessor (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 1–10 (doi:10.1093/aesa/sau013).
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1943g. A list of the type-species of the genera and subgenera of the Formicidae. [part]. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 11(10): 617-688 (page 675, Novomessor in Myrmicinae, Myrmicini)
  • Emery, C. 1915k. Definizione del genere Aphaenogaster e partizione di esso in sottogeneri. Parapheidole e Novomessor nn. gg. Rend. Sess. R. Accad. Sci. Ist. Bologna Cl. Sci. Fis. (n.s.) 19: 67-75 (page 73, Novomessor as genus)
  • Emery, C. 1921c. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [part]. Genera Insectorum 174A:1-94 94: 1-94 + 7 (page 66, Novomessor in Myrmicinae, Pheidolini [subtribe Stenammini])
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 241, Novomessor in Myrmicinae, Pheidolini)
  • Hölldobler, B.; Stanton, R. C.; Engel, H. 1976. A new exocrine gland in Novomessor (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and its possible significance as a taxonomic character. Psyche (Camb.) 83: 32-41 (page 32, Novomessor as genus)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1972b. Catálogo abreviado das formigas da regia~o Neotropical. Stud. Entomol. 15: 3-344 (page 166, Novomessor in Myrmicinae, Myrmicini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 661, Novomessor in Myrmicinae, Pheidolini )
  • Wheeler, W. M.; Creighton, W. S. 1934. A study of the ant genera Novomessor and Veromessor. Proc. Am. Acad. Arts Sci. 69: 341-387 (page 343, Novomessor as genus)