Odontomachus clarus

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Odontomachus clarus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Odontomachus
Species: O. clarus
Binomial name
Odontomachus clarus
Roger, 1861

Odontomachus clarus casent0004300 profile 1.jpg

Odontomachus clarus casent0004300 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Long thought to exist as two disjunct populations (Florida region in the SE and SW North America), recent findings of this species in Louisiana (Adams et al. 2010) suggests it may have a single contiguous range.


Odontomachus clarus 0089.jpg

Brown (1976) - Odontomachus clarus is like Odontomachus insularis, and it also shares with insularis the dark-colored male and 4, 3 palpal segmentation. In fact, the only reliable worker character I can find to separate the two is the different development of the acute apex of the petiolar node. In insularis, the node narrows fairly abruptly (in side view) to a long, thin, backcurved spine, which may occupy a quarter or more of the total height of the node. In O. clarus, the node as seen from the side tapers rapidly to a much shorter spine, which often is not really a spine at all, but simply a sharp conical apex. The shortest and most stumpy nodes tend to occur in small, pale yellowish-brown individuals from the northern limits of the species in Central Texas, and especially in the mountains of southeastern Arizona (Huachuca, Chiricahua and Santa Rita Mountains at altitudes of 1000- 1500 m., for example).

Identification Keys including this Taxon


Southwestern North America from Arizona and New Mexico to southern Mexico and a disjunct occurrence in Florida.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Nests are often found under rocks or in grasses associated with both arid and mesic habitats. They have also been located under downed trees in fine sand and gravel soils (Smith 1939, Cokendolpher & Francke 1990, Deyrup and Cover 2004).

Regional Notes


Adams et al. (2010) - "On 11 August 2009 two head capsules were collected in the midden pile of a colony of Dorymyrmex flavus McCookon the road near the Corral Camp area of the Kisatchie National Forest in Central Louisiana (31°31.774’N 093°03.510’W Elev. 323’). The head capsules were missing the recognizable jaws but the converging dorsal furrows on the capsules matched the characters of Odontomachus (Deyrup et al. 1985, Brown 1976). Coloration and head size indicated a species other than the non-native Odontomachus haematodus (Linnaeus), already known to exist in southeastern Louisiana. Presence of the capsules within the midden pile indicate possible predation of Odontomachus by Dorymyrmex. Aggressive interaction between Dorymyrmex bureni (Trager) and O. brunneus has previously been reported by Wild (in Deyrup and Cover 2004). An Odontomachus colony was located on 26 March 2010 in the Kisatchie district of Kisatchie National Forest on the Long Leaf Vista trail (31°28.576’N 092°59.683’W Elev. 238’). Three workers were collected under a rock in sandy soil at the base of a rock bluff. Workers were hand collected and stored in ethanol. Another colony was located on 18 June 2010 near Corral Camp (31°32.105’N 093°03.403’W Elev. 270’) under a large rock next to a rotting stump near the road. The entire colony was collected, including workers and male and female alates. Vouchers are deposited in the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum."

New Mexico

Mackay and Mackay (2002) - Habitat. Semi-desert areas, especially in riparian areas. Biology. This ant nests under stones, and may be locally common, although they are rarely collected. Odontomachus clarus are fascinating predators which snap the elongated mandibles shut on prey. When placed in a vial, they can snap the mandibles together with such force they can flip completely out of the vial.

Cokendolpher and Francke (1990) - In Arizona we have found this species, usually in small numbers, under rocks and grass tussocks, in both dry and mesic sites. In western Texas it shows a preference for more mesic sites and fine soils; nests are usually found under rocks or logs.



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

  • clarus. Odontomachus clarus Roger, 1861a: 26 (w.) U.S.A. Patton, 1894: 618 (m.); Wheeler, W.M. 1908e: 407 (q.); Petralia & Vinson, 1980: 381 (l.). Subspecies of haematodus: Emery, 1911d: 115; Wheeler, W.M. 1914b: 40; Smith, M.R. 1939d: 129. Revived status as species: Taylor & Wilson, 1962: 142; Brown, 1976a: 136. Senior synonym of clarionensis: Taylor & Wilson, 1962: 142; of coninodis, desertorum: Brown, 1976a: 103; of texana: Wheeler, W.M. 1902f: 26. See also: Deyrup, Trager & Carlin, 1985: 192.
  • texana. Odontomachus texana Buckley, 1867: 335 (w.) U.S.A. Junior synonym of insularis: Emery, 1895c: 268; of clarus: Wheeler, W.M. 1902f: 26.
  • coninodis. Odontomachus haematodus subsp. coninodis Wheeler, W.M. 1915b: 391 (w.q.) U.S.A. Junior synonym of clarus: Brown, 1976a: 103. See also: Smith, M.R. 1939d: 128.
  • clarionensis. Odontomachus haematoda subsp. clarionensis Wheeler, W.M. 1934f: 141 (w.) MEXICO. Junior synonym of clarus: Taylor & Wilson, 1962: 142.

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

Brown (1976) - In Odontomachus clarus, the node as seen from the side tapers rapidly to a much shorter spine, which often is not really a spine at all, but simply a sharp conical apex. The shortest and most stumpy nodes tend to occur in small, pale yellowish-brown individuals from the northern limits of the species in Central Texas, and especially in the mountains of southeastern Arizona (Huachuca, Chiricahua and Santa Rita Mountains at altitudes of 1000- 1500 m., for examples). The mountain samples have been considered as a separate subspecies coninodis, but I see no need to give a formal name to these depauperate ecotypes or ecophenotypes occurring at the upland range boundary of a variable species. Samples from nearby Tucson, taken at lower altitudes in the desert (types of subsp. desertorum) are large, richly colored, and similar to samples of O. clarus from much farther south in Mexico; I do not hesitate to call them conspecific without making further distinction. A transect of collections taken from the Sonoran desert flats up into the mountains should establish clines connecting the lowland and upland forms. Until this transect is properly established, there will of course remain some doubt as to whether the upland form might be a local species. The subspecies clarionensis is based on a worker from Clarion Island, far out in the Pacific of Mexico. This worker proves to be a rather typical specimen of O. clarus, as already indicated by Taylor and Wilson (1961) without comment.



Rubidotestaceus, sparsissime pubcscens, nilidus, squama pedibusque pallidioribus, abdomine fusco, capite postice et in lateribus haud suiato, squama unispinosa. 8 Millim. long.

Eine haematodes sehr nahe stehende Art, aber kleiner und durch den an den Seiten und dem obern Drittel nicht gestreiften Kopf, sowie durch etwas andere Sculptur des Prothorax verschieden. — Der ganze Korper, mit Ausnahme des Hinterleibs, der schwarz oder schwarzbraun ist, ist hell rothlich gelb, die Beine und auch die Schuppe sind noch heller. Der Korper ist, aufser an den gestreiften Partien, die etwas matt erscheinen, glanzend und sehr sparlich mit anliegenden Harchen besetzt; langere abstehende Haare finden sich nur an den Mandibeln und der Unterseite und Spitze des Hinterleibs. Der Kopf ist langer als breit, hinten nicht verengt und etwas ausgerandet. Der Fuhlerschaft ist kaum so lang als der Kopf. Die Geifselglieder sind gedrungen. Die Mandibeln haben am Schneiderand, namentlich nach vorn, kleine Zahnchen und sind an der Spilze winklig gebogen, stumpf dreizahnig. Der Ranm zwischen den Fuhlergruben ist fein langs gestreift, der breite Hinterrand und die Seitenrander des Kopfs sind einzeln fein punktirt, aber gar nicht dicht und deshalb glansend. Alles Uebrige am Kopf wie bei haematodes. Der Prothorax ist quer koncentrisch gestreift; der ubrige Thorax zeigt feine Querstreifen. Die Schuppe ist konisch, allmalig zugespitzt und endet in einen nicht so scharfen und plotzlich zugespitzen Dorn, wie bei haematodes; unten sitzt ein denlicher Zahn. Das Abdomen hat eine abgestutzte, oben abgerundete Vorderseite, gelb gesaumte Spitzenrander an den einzelnen Segmenten und ist sehr glanzend und glatt. Das Uebrige wie bei haematodes.

Determination Clarifications

Records of clarus from the West Indies (Smith 1979) refer to some other species, perhaps Odontomachus ruginodis. All references to clarus in Florida (Deyrup et al. 1985; Deyrup 1989; Deyrup et al. 1989; Deyrup 1990; Sivinski et al. 1998) should be referred to Odontomachus relictus.


  • B. J. Adams, X. Chen and L. M. Hooper-Bùi, "Odontomachus clarus Roger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) reported in Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana," [Midsouth Entomologist, vol. 3, no. pp. 104-105, 2010].
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1976c. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. Part VI. Ponerinae, tribe Ponerini, subtribe Odontomachiti. Section A. Introduction, subtribal characters. Genus Odontomachus. Stud. Entomol. 19: 67-171 (page 136, Revived status as species; page 103, Senior synonym of cominodis and desertorum)
  • Deyrup, M.; Trager, J.; Carlin, N. 1985. The genus Odontomachus in the southeastern United States (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomol. News 96: 188-195 (page 192, see also)
  • Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 115, subspecies of haematodus)
  • MacGown, J.A., Boudinot, B., Deyrup, M. & Sorger, D.M. 2014. A review of the Nearctic Odontomachus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae) with a treatment of the males. Zootaxa 3802(4): 515-552.
  • MacKay, W.P. & MacKay, E.E. 2002. The Ants of New Mexico: 400 pp. Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, N.Y.
  • Patton, W. H. 1894. Habits of the leaping-ant of southern Georgia. Am. Nat. 28: 618-619 (page 618, male described)
  • Petralia, R. S.; Vinson, S. B. 1980 [1979]. Comparative anatomy of the ventral region of ant larvae, and its relation to feeding behavior. Psyche (Camb.) 86: 375-394 (page 381, larva described)
  • Roger, J. 1861a. Die Ponera-artigen Ameisen (Schluss). Berl. Entomol. Z. 5: 1-54 (page 26, worker described)
  • Smith, M. R. 1939d. A study of the subspecies of Odontomachus haematoda (L.) of the United States (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 47: 125-130 (page 129, subspecies of haematodus)
  • Taylor, R. W.; Wilson, E. O. 1962 [1961]. Ants from three remote oceanic islands. Psyche (Camb.) 68: 137-144 (page 142, Revived status as species, senior synonym of clarionensis)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1902g. A consideration of S. B. Buckley's "North American Formicidae.". Trans. Tex. Acad. Sci. 4: 17-31 (page 26, Senior synonym of texana)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1914c. Ants collected by W. M. Mann in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 22: 37-61 (page 40, subspecies of haematodus)