Every Ant Tells a Story - And Their Stories Are Here
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Temporal range: 48.6–0 Ma
Eocene – Recent
Pachycondyla crassinoda
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Alliance: Pachycondyla genus group
Genus: Pachycondyla
Smith, F., 1858
Type species
Formica crassinoda, now Pachycondyla crassinoda
17 species
19 fossil species
(Species Checklist)

Pachycondyla crassinoda casent0217556 p 1 high.jpg

Pachycondyla crassinoda casent0217556 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Pachycondyla has been the focus of the greatest taxonomic confusion within Ponerinae, and was previously considered the senior synonym of numerous genera which are now considered distinct. Pachycondyla is in reality a small Neotropical genus (less than 20 described species) that is closely related to Dinoponera. Relatively little is known about its habits.


Schmidt and Shattuck (2014) - Pachycondyla workers are fairly generalized and lack any obvious autapomorphies, making their diagnosis more complicated than for most ponerine genera. They can most easily be identified by the following combination of characters: mandibles triangular, anterior clypeal margin without projecting teeth, metanotal groove at most present as a faint suture, propodeal spiracles slit-shaped, metapleural gland orifice with a posterior U-shaped cuticular lip, arolia not prominent, tarsal claws unarmed, petiole a thick block-like node, stridulitrum absent from pretergite of A4, and hypopygium with a row of stout spines on either side of the sting. Pachycondyla is most likely to be confused with Dinoponera, Neoponera, Ectomomyrmex, or Bothroponera, but Pachycondyla differs from Dinoponera in its smaller size, triangular mandibles, unarmed clypeal margin and tarsal claws, and block-like petiole; from Neoponera in its lack of a stridulitrum on the pretergite of A4 and by its hypopygial spines; from Ectomomyrmex in its complex metapleural gland orifice and hypopygial spines; and from Bothroponera in its hypopygial spines.

Keys including this Genus



The range of Pachycondyla extends from the southern United States (Louisiana and Texas) to northern Argentina, and includes some islands of the Caribbean (Kempf, 1961). Pachycondyla harpax covers most of the range of the genus, but most other Pachycondyla species have a much more restricted range.

Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


Relatively little is known about the ecology and behavior of Pachycondyla. Longino (2013) reports that Pachycondyla harpax and Pachycondyla impressa forage on the forest floor and are never observed foraging arboreally. They are presumably generalist predators and scavengers, though published accounts of their food preferences are scant. Wheeler (1900b) reported that P. harpax workers in captivity would feed on egg yolk and sugar but ignored termites, Overal (1987) stated that P. harpax eats soft-bodied insects (including termites) and myriapods, and Garcia-Pérez et al. (1997) observed P. harpax preying predominantly on termites. Pachycondyla striata will readily harvest and consume fruits and the arils of seeds from the forest floor, though it is unknown if this behavior occurs in other members of the genus (Pizo & Oliveira, 1998, 2001; Passos & Oliveira, 2002, 2003, 2004; Raimundo et al., 2004). Nestmates are apparently recruited to food sources via tandem running (observed in P. harpax and P. impressa; S. Levings, pers. comm. cited in Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990).

When reported, nests are constructed in the ground (P. harpax and P. impressa; Wheeler, 1900b; Overal, 1987; Longino, 2013) or in soil collected in the crowns of palms (P. harpax; Overal, 1987). Mating occurs via typical nuptial flights (P. harpax: Longino, 2013; P. impressa: Ortius & Lechner, 1997). Wheeler (1900b) reported on egg production by workers of P. harpax, which he interpreted as being ergatoid queens but which are more likely just normal workers laying haploid eggs, as is common in Ponerinae. The mandibular, Dufour’s and venom gland secretions of P. striata were studied by Morgan et al. (1999, 2003; the mandibular gland of this species was also studied by Tomotake et al., 1992, and Mathias et al., 1995), the ovaries and corpora allata of P. striata queens and workers were compared by Thiele & Mathias (1999) and Figueira & Mathias (2002), respectively, the fat body of P. striata queens was studied by Thiele & Mathias (2003), and the structure of the venom gland in P. striata was described by Ortiz & Mathias (2003, 2006). Overal (1987) observed that P. harpax produces a foamy defensive secretion from the tip of the abdomen, similar to the behavior exhibited by Pseudoneoponera. P. harpax also injects venom from the sting, and Orivel & Déjean (2001) measured the toxicity of this species’ venom.

Association with Other Organisms

All Associate Records for Genus

Explore Associate Data: All, Drilldown
Taxon Relationship Associate Type Associate Taxon Associate Relationship Locality Source Notes
Pachycondyla crassinoda host fungus Ophiocordyceps australis pathogen Sanjuan et al., 2015; Shrestha et al., 2017
Pachycondyla harpax host fungus Ophiocordyceps evansii pathogen Sanjuan et al., 2015; Shrestha et al., 2017
Pachycondyla impressa host fungus Ophiocordyceps evansii pathogen Sanjuan et al., 2015; Shrestha et al., 2017
Pachycondyla striata host fungus Ophiocordyceps australis pathogen Shrestha et al., 2017




All Karyotype Records for Genus

Explore Karyotype Data: All, Drilldown
Taxon Haploid Diploid Karyotype Locality Source Notes
Pachycondyla crassinoda 62 22M+40A Brazil Mariano et al., 2006c; Mariano et al., 2007
Pachycondyla harpax 90 16M+74A Brazil Velasco et al., 2014
Pachycondyla harpax 92 16M+76A Brazil Velasco et al., 2014
Pachycondyla harpax 96 12M+84A Brazil Mariano et al., 2006c; Mariano et al., 2007
Pachycondyla impressa 94 8M+86A Brazil Mariano et al., 2012
Pachycondyla striata 104 4M+100A Brazil Mariano et al., 2007

The karyotypes listed as belonging to two unidentified Pachycondyla species by Goni et al. (1982) and Imai et al. (1983), both from Malaysia, are not Pachycondyla species and their taxonomic placement is unclear.


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

  • PACHYCONDYLA [Ponerinae: Ponerini]
    • Pachycondyla Smith, F. 1858b: 105. Type-species: Formica crassinoda, by subsequent designation of Emery, 1901a: 42.

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


Schmidt and Shattuck (2014):


Medium to large (TL 7–20 mm) robust ants with the standard characters of Ponerini. Mandibles triangular, sometimes with a faint basal groove. Anterior margin of clypeus convex and often medially emarginate. Frontal lobes moderately large. Eyes of moderate size and located anterior of head midline. Pronotum often with sharp lateral margins. Mesopleuron variable: fully, partially, or not at all divided by a transverse groove. Metanotal groove absent or at most present as a faint suture. Propodeum broad dorsally. Propodeal spiracles slit-shaped. Metapleural gland orifice with a posterior U-shaped cuticular lip and a lateral depression. Metatibial spur formula (1s, 1p). Petiole with a thick block-like node which widens posteriorly. Gaster with only a weak girdling constriction between pre- and postsclerites of A4. Hypopygium with a row of stout spines on either side of the sting. Head and body densely punctate to striate (rugoreticulate in at least one population of P. harpax), with abundant pilosity and dense pubescence. Color dark brown to black.


Winged, with ocelli and the other modifications typical of ponerine queens, and slightly larger than the worker, but otherwise very similar to that caste.


See descriptions for individual species in Smith (1858) and Santschi (1921).


Described for individual species by Wheeler & Wheeler (1952).


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  • Arnold, G. 1915. A monograph of the Formicidae of South Africa. Part I. Ponerinae, Dorylinae. Ann. S. Afr. Mus. 14: 1-159 (page 53, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae, Ponerini)
  • Ashmead, W. H. 1905c. A skeleton of a new arrangement of the families, subfamilies, tribes and genera of the ants, or the superfamily Formicoidea. Can. Entomol. 37: 381-384 (page 382, Pachycondyla in Pachycondylinae, Pachycondylini)
  • Bolton, B. 1994. Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 222 pp. (page 164, Pachycondyla senior synonym of Bothroponera, Brachyponera, Ectomomyrmex, Eumecopone, Euponera, Hagensia, Megaponera, Mesoponera, Neoponera, Ophthalmopone, Paltothyreus, Pseudoneoponera, Pseudoponera, Syntermitopone, Termitopone, Trachymesopus, Wadeura, Xi)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 165, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae, Ponerini)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 32, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae)
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 767, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae, Ponerini)
  • Emery, C. 1901b. Notes sur les sous-familles des Dorylines et Ponérines (Famille des Formicides). Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 45: 32-54 (page 42, Type-species: Formica crassinoda, by subsequent designation)
  • Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 73, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae, Ponerini [subtribe Pachycondylini])
  • Forel, A. 1895b. A fauna das formigas do Brazil. Bol. Mus. Para. Hist. Nat. Ethnogr. 1: 89-139 (page 114, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae, Ponerini)
  • Forel, A. 1899b. Formicidae. [part]. Biol. Cent.-Am. Hym. 3: 1-24 (page 10, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae, Ponerini)
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 237, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae, Ponerini)
  • Hölldobler, B.; Wilson, E. O. 1990. The ants. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, xii + 732 pp. (page 11, Pachycondyla senior synonym of Bothroponera, Ectomomyrmex, Eumecopone, Mesoponera, Neoponera, Pseudoneoponera, Pseudoponera, Syntermitopone, Termitopone, Trachymesopus, Wadeura, Xiphopelta)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1961e. As formigas do gênero Pachycondyla Fr. Smith no Brasil (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Rev. Bras. Entomol. 10: 189-204 (page 195, junior synonym of impressa)
  • Mackay, W. P., and E. E. Mackay 2010. The Systematics and Biology of the New World Ants of the Genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellon Press, Lewiston. Information from this publication is used with permission from the authors.
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 713, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae [Poneridae])
  • Mayr, G. 1865. Formicidae. In: Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte "Novara" um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859. Zoologischer Theil. Bd. II. Abt. 1. Wien: K. Gerold's Sohn, 119 pp. (page 13, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae [Poneridae])
  • Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, S.O. 2014. The higher classification of the ant subfamily Ponerinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with a review of ponerine ecology and behavior. Zootaxa 3817, 1–242 (DOI 10.11646/zootaxa.3817.1.1).
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  • Smith, F. 1871a. A catalogue of the Aculeate Hymenoptera and Ichneumonidae of India and the Eastern Archipelago. With introductory remarks by A. R. Wallace. [part]. J. Linn. Soc. Lond. Zool. 11: 285-348 (page 324, Pachycondyla in Poneridae)
  • Snelling, R. R. 1981. Systematics of social Hymenoptera. Pp. 369-453 in: Hermann, H. R. (ed.) Social insects. Volume 2. New York: Academic Press, xiii + 491 pp. (page 389, Pachycondyla senior synonym of Bothroponera, Brachyponera, Ectomomyrmex, Eumecopone, Mesoponera, Neoponera, Pseudoneoponera, Pseudoponera, Syntermitopone, Termitopone, Trachymesopus, Wadeura, Xiphopelta)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 135, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae, Ponerini)
  • 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 648, Pachycondyla in Ponerinae, Ponerini)