Odontomachus insularis

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Odontomachus insularis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Odontomachus
Species: O. insularis
Binomial name
Odontomachus insularis
Guérin-Méneville, 1844

Odontomachus insularis casent0217541 p 1 high.jpg

Odontomachus insularis casent0217541 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

The last taxonomic revision of Odontomachus (Brown 1976) revealed a tangle of names, subspecies and varieties for this and numerous allied forms. Odontomachus insularis is known to occur in the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas. Its presence in other areas is tenuous pending a more thorough taxonomic revision.


Brown (1976) - O. insularis has cephalic striation so fine that Guerin could not see it when he wrote the original description, and it has a sericeous look at lower magnifications. The male is black or piceous in color, with a brown gaster, and the worker has palpal segmentation 4, 3. In addition to the many records of insularis from Cuba (type locality) and the Bahamas, I have seen a single worker labeled as from Diquini, Haiti (W. M. Mann).

Odontomachus clarus is a very closely related species replacing insularis on the continent, where it ranges from Central Texas and southern Arizona southward in Mexico at least to Mexico City and the state of Guerrero, apparently mainly in arid and semiarid areas on the Mexican Plateau and in the cordilleras. Although it is more variable in size and color, clarus is like 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.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Barbados, Cuba (type locality), Dominican Republic, Greater Antilles, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Lesser Antilles, Mexico, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago.

It is also found in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada (but see above concerning this ant's taxonomy and distribution).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Association with Other Organisms

This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Kapala terminalis (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).



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

  • insularis. Odontomachus insularis Guérin-Méneville, 1844a: 423 (w.m.) CUBA. Forel, 1897b: 298 (q.). Subspecies of haematodus: Emery, 1890b: 44 (footnote); Smith, M.R. 1939d: 127. Revived status as species: Taylor & Wilson, 1962: 142. Material of the unavailable names pallens, wheeleri referred here by Brown, 1976a: 104.

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

Brown (1976) - Odontomachus insularis, as determined from the type worker, here designated as lectotype, in Paris (Musee National d'Histoire Naturelle), and confirmed by the original description, is the reddish form with yellowish appendages and dark (piceous or black) gaster, common and widespread in Cuba and the Bahamas. So far as I have been able to determine from actual specimens, the true insularis does not occur on the continent of North America or in the Florida Keys, although it would not be surprising to find it somewhere in Florida. The varieties pallens and wheeleri are just the ordinary insularis, judging from their types. In var. wheeleri, the dorsum of the propodeum and the petiole are perhaps more yellowish than usual, but this condition is approached by occasional workers in other nest series. Wheeler described pallens, apparently, while thinking the dark Cuban species, here referred to as O. brunneus, was insularis.


Type Material

Brown (1976) designated a specimen in the Musee National d'Histoire Naturelle as the lectotype.


  • 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 104, Material of the unavailable names pallens and wheeleri referred here by Brown)
  • Emery, C. 1890c. Studii sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 22: 38-80 (page 44, Race/subspecies of haematodus (footnote))
  • Forel, A. 1897b. Quelques Formicides de l'Antille de Grenada récoltés par M. H. H. Smith. Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 1897: 297-300 (page 298, queen described)
  • Guérin-Méneville, F. E. 1844a. Iconographie du règne animal de G. Cuvier, ou représentation d'après nature de l'une des espèces les plus remarquables, et souvent non encore figurées, de chaque genre d'animaux. Insectes. Paris: J. B. Baillière, 576 pp. (page 423, worker, male 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 127, Race/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)