Ooceraea biroi

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ooceraea biroi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Ooceraea
Species: O. biroi
Binomial name
Ooceraea biroi
(Forel, 1907)

Cerapachys biroi casent0055090 profile 1.jpg

Cerapachys biroi casent0055090 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


Common Name
Language: Japanese
Clonal Raider Ant
Language: English

A small, inconspicuous ant that has spread around the world in tropical and subtropical regions through human commerce. It is found in a range of habitats, nesting in soil or under stones. Colonies may include a few hundred workers and ergatoid queens.

At a Glance • Parthenogenetic  • Highly invasive  



Dias et al (2018) - The species appears robust with opaque body having closely spaced piligerous punctures and dense pilosity. The species displays a great variation in colour and we also observed that the colour of specimens mostly corresponds to the colour of soil they inhabit. Mandibles subtriangular, dentate; antennae 9-segmented; scapes short and clavate reaching up to half of posterior head margin; eyes and ocelli absent; anterior clypeal margin entire and convex; vertex deflexed and flat.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 32.7496° to 22.1575°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Comoros.
Indo-Australian Region: Guam, Hawaii, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore (type locality).
Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Mayotte, Seychelles.
Neotropical Region: Guadeloupe, Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands.
Oriental Region: India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Vietnam.
Palaearctic Region: China, Japan.

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.



Wetterer et al. (2012) - Cerapachys biroi has small colonies, typically consisting of a few hundred workers. Workers are only 2-3 mm in size and are entirely subterranean. Cerapachys biroi feeds primarily on the brood of other ants (Tsuji and Yamauchi, 1995), but also may consume the soft-bodied larvae of other insects (Wocott, 1948). Cerapachys workers have heavily sclerotized cuticle that protects them against attack or injury when raiding the broods of other ants (Holldobler, 1982).

The reproductive cycle of Cerapachys biroi is similar to that of some army ants in that C. biroi colonies produce brood in distinct cohorts, synchronized with cycles of alternating statary and nomadic phases (Ravary and Jaisson, 2002, Ravary et al., 2006). Cerapachys biroi has received particular attention because, unlike most ants, all workers can produce diploid eggs through thelytokous parthenogenesis, although workers differ in their number of ovaries and their potential reproductive output (Tsuji and Yamauchi, 1995, Ravary and Jaisson, 2004, Lecoutey et el., 2011). This means that any colony fragment can theoretically found a new population. It is possible that this method of reproduction has facilitated the spread of C. biroi around the world.

Figure 1. Reproductive cycle of C. biroi showing two alternating phases of activity synchronized with the brood stages. PP = prepupae, WP = white pupae, RP = reddish pupae, L1 = 1st larval instar, L2=1nd larval instar, L3 = 3rd larval instar, G = brood generation

Ravary and Jaisson (2002) examined life-history attributes of laboratory colonies of O. biroi . They documented a biphasic reproductive cycle (Figure 1) similar to that of a few specie of well-studied army ants, e.g., Eciton burchellii). There are two alternating phases of adult activity, a foraging phase and statary phase. Brood development is synchronous and larvae develop through three instars. The transition from the foraging to statary phase occurs when the brood are in the pupal stage and do not need to be fed. A new cohort of brood is produced by the now idled foragers, with virgin workers laying diploid eggs. The statary phase ends with the callow workers emerging as adults and the eggs hatch. The adult workers begin again to forage for food. This provides the food resources needed by the synchronously maturing larvae.

Life History Traits

  • Queen type: absent (Tsuji and Yamauchi, 1995; Ravary & Jaisson, 2004; Mizuno et al., 2021) (clonal species without queen caste)
  • Mean colony size: 150-600 (Tsuji and Yamauchi, 1995; Ravary & Jaisson, 2004; Mizuno et al., 2021)



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

  • biroi. Cerapachys (Syscia) biroi Forel, 1907a: 7 (w.) SINGAPORE.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: Singapore: (L. Biró).
    • Type-depositories: HNHM, MHNG.
    • Imai, et al. 1984: 5 (k.).
    • Combination in Ooceraea: Borowiec, M.L. 2016: 198.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1911d: 10; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 20; Brown, 1975: 22, 73; Onoyama, 1980: 196; Ogata, 1983: 136; Terayama, et al. 1988: 38; Morisita, et al. 1989: 31; Brandão, 1991: 337; Bolton, 1995b: 142; Tang, J., Li, et al. 1995: 25; Wu, J. & Wang, 1995: 48; Imai, et al. 2003: 210; Lin & Wu, 2003: 60; Wetterer & Vargo, 2003: 417; Clouse, 2007b: 203; Framenau & Thomas, 2008: 58; Terayama, 2009: 121; Guénard & Dunn, 2012: 24; Wetterer, Kronauer & Borowiec, 2012: 1; Bharti & Akbar, 2013a: 82 (in key); Bharti & Wachkoo, 2013d: 1192 (in key); Bharti, Guénard, et al. 2016: 21; Chen, Shi & Zhou, 2016: 9 (in key); Yamada, Luong & Eguchi, 2018: 21 (in key); Rasheed, et al. 2019: 428; Zhou, Chen & Chen 2020: 142 (in key).
    • Senior synonym of ierensis: Brown, 1975: 22, 73; Ogata, 1983: 136; Brandão, 1991: 337; Bolton, 1995b: 142.
    • Senior synonym of seini: Brown, 1975: 22, 73; Ogata, 1983: 136; Brandão, 1991: 337; Bolton, 1995b: 142.
    • Senior synonym of silvestrii: Brown, 1975: 22, 73; Onoyama, 1980: 196; Ogata, 1983: 136; Bolton, 1995b: 142.
    • Senior synonym of sinensis: Brown, 1975: 22, 73; Ogata, 1983: 136; Bolton, 1995b: 142.
    • Distribution [tramp species]:
    • Malagasy: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius (Mascarene Is), Seychelles.
    • Malesian: Christmas I., Hawaii, Indonesia (Bali), Malaysia (Peninsula), Micronesia, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore.
    • Neotropical: Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Turks & Caicos Is, Virgin Is.
    • Oriental: China, India, Japan, Nepal, Taiwan, Vietnam.
  • ierensis. Cerapachys (Syscia) ierensis Weber, 1939a: 94 (w.) TRINIDAD.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated, “a series”).
    • Type-locality: Trinidad: St Augustine, 17.v.1935, and 20.v.1936 (N.A. Weber).
    • Type-depositories: AMNH, MCZC.
    • Status as species: Kempf, 1972a: 76.
    • Junior synonym of biroi: Brown, 1975: 22, 73; Ogata, 1983: 136; Brandão, 1991: 337; Bolton, 1995b: 143.
  • seini. Cerapachys (Syscia) seini Mann, 1931: 440, fig. 1 (w.) PUERTO RICO.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated, “a series”).
    • Type-locality: Puerto Rico: Insular Experiment Station, Rio Piedras (F. Sein).
    • Type-depositories: MCZC, USNM.
    • Status as species: Smith, M.R. 1937: 823; Kempf, 1972a: 76.
    • Junior synonym of silvestrii: Wilson & Taylor, 1967: 33.
    • Junior synonym of biroi: Brown, 1975: 22, 73; Ogata, 1983: 136; Brandão, 1991: 337; Bolton, 1995b: 144.
  • silvestrii. Cerapachys (Syscia) silvestrii Wheeler, W.M. 1909c: 269 (w.) HAWAII.
    • Type-material: 6 syntype workers.
    • Type-locality: U.S.A.: Hawaii, Hilo (F. Silvestri).
    • Type-depository: MCZC.
    • [Note: according to Brown, 1975: 73, only 1 syntype is in MCZC; the remainder may be in DEUN.]
    • Combination in Syscia: Wilson & Taylor, 1967: 33.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1911d: 10; Wheeler, W.M. 1934h: 9; Wheeler, W.M. 1935g: 8; Wilson & Taylor, 1967: 33; Dlussky, 1994: 53 (error).
    • Junior synonym of biroi: Brown, 1975: 22, 73; Onoyama, 1980: 196; Ogata, 1983: 136; Bolton, 1995b: 144.
  • sinensis. Cerapachys (Syscia) sinensis Wheeler, W.M. 1928c: 3 (w.) CHINA (Shanghai).
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: China: Shanghai (F. Silvestri).
    • Type-depository: MCZC.
    • Status as species: Wheeler, W.M. 1930h: 57; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 20.
    • Junior synonym of biroi: Brown, 1975: 22, 73; Ogata, 1983: 136; Bolton, 1995b: 144.



  • 2n = 28, karyotype = 25M+3A (India) (Imai et al., 1984) (as Cerapachys biroi).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Bharti H., Y. P. Sharma, M. Bharti, and M. Pfeiffer. 2013. Ant species richness, endemicity and functional groups, along an elevational gradient in the Himalayas. Asian Myrmecology 5: 79-101.
  • Bharti H., and S. A. Akbar. 2013. Taxonomic studies on the ant genus Cerapachys Smith (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from India. ZooKeys 336: 79-103.
  • Brandao, C.R.F. 1991. Adendos ao catalogo abreviado das formigas da regiao neotropical (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Rev. Bras. Entomol. 35: 319-412.
  • Brown W. L., Jr. 1975. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. V. Ponerinae, tribes Platythyreini, Cerapachyini, Cylindromyrmecini, Acanthostichini, and Aenictogitini. Search Agric. (Ithaca N. Y.) 5(1): 1-115.
  • Dad J. M., S. A. Akbar, H. Bharti, and A. A. Wachkoo. 2019. Community structure and ant species diversity across select sites ofWestern Ghats, India. Acta Ecologica Sinica 39: 219–228.
  • Eguchi K., B. T. Viet, and S. Yamane. 2014. Generic Synopsis of the Formicidae of Vietnam (Insecta: Hymenoptera), Part II—Cerapachyinae, Aenictinae, Dorylinae, Leptanillinae, Amblyoponinae, Ponerinae, Ectatomminae and Proceratiinae. Zootaxa 3860: 001-046.
  • Eguchi K., T. V. Bui, S. Yamane, H. Okido, and K. Ogata. 2004. Ant faunas of Ba Vi and Tam Dao, North Vietnam (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bull. Inst. Trop. Agr. Kyushu Univ. 27: 77-98.
  • Fontanilla A. M., A. Nakamura, Z. Xu, M. Cao, R. L. Kitching, Y. Tang, and C. J. Burwell. 2019. Taxonomic and functional ant diversity along tropical, subtropical, and subalpine elevational transects in southwest China. Insects 10, 128; doi:10.3390/insects10050128
  • General D. M., and G. D. Alpert. 2012. A synoptic review of the ant genera (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of the Philippines. Zookeys 200: 1-111.
  • Imai H. T., C. Baroni Urbani, M. Kubota, G. P. Sharma, M. H. Narasimhanna, B. C. Das, A. K. Sharma, A. Sharma, G. B. Deodikar, V. G. Vaidya, and M. R. Rajasekarasetty. 1984. Karyological survey of Indian ants. Japanese Journal of Genetics 59: 1-32.
  • Leong C. M., S. F. Shiao, and B. Guenard. 2017. Ants in the city, a preliminary checklist of Formicidae (Hymenoptera) in Macau, one of the most heavily urbanized regions of the world. Asian Myrmecology 9: e009014.
  • Li Z.h. 2006. List of Chinese Insects. Volume 4. Sun Yat-sen University Press
  • Ogata K. 1983. The ant genus Cerapachys F. Smith of Japan, with description of a new species (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Esakia 20:131-137.
  • Ogata K. 2005. Asian ant inventory and international networks. Report on Insect inventory Project in Tropic Asia TAIIV: 145-170.
  • Oxley P. R., L. Ji, I. Fetter-Pruneda, S. K. McKenzie, C. Li, H. Hu, G. Zhang, and D. J. Kronauer. 2014. The genome of the clonal raider ant Cerapachys biroi. Current Biology 24: 451-458.
  • Tang J., Li S., Huang E., Zhang B. and Chen Y. 1995. Hymenoptera: Formicidae (1). Economic Insect Fauna of China 47: 1-133.
  • Tiwari R.N., B.G. Kundu, S. Roychowdhury, S.N. Ghosh. 1999. Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae. Pp. 211-294 in: Director; Zoological Survey of India (ed.) 1999. Fauna of West Bengal. Part 8. Insecta (Trichoptera, Thysanoptera, Neuroptera, Hymenoptera and Anoplura). Calcutta: Zoological Survey of India, iv + 442 pp.
  • Wetterer J. K., D. J. C. Kronauer, and M. L. Borowiec. 2012. Worldwide spread of Cerapachys biroi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Cerapachyinae). Myrmecological News 17: 1-4.
  • Yamane S.; Bui T. V.; Ogata K.; Okido H.; Eguchi K. 2002. Ant fauna of Cuc Phuong National Park, North Vietnam (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bulletin of the Institute of Tropical Agriculture Kyushu University 25: 51-62.
  • Zryanin V. A. 2011. An eco-faunistic review of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). In: Structure and functions of soil communities of a monsoon tropical forest (Cat Tien National Park, southern Vietnam) / A.V. Tiunov (Editor). – M.: KMK Scientific Press. 2011. 277 р.101-124.