Paratrechina longicornis

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Paratrechina longicornis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Lasiini
Genus: Paratrechina
Species: P. longicornis
Binomial name
Paratrechina longicornis
(Latreille, 1802)

Paratrechina longicornis casent0063128 profile 1.jpg

Paratrechina longicornis casent0063128 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


This ant has been transported to almost all the populated subtropical and tropical areas in the world. It is usually in disturbed areas but can invade undisturbed areas as well. It is a general scavenger and also tends honeydew-producing Homoptera. Nests are in accumulations of dry litter or mulch or under objects on the ground.

Paratrechina longicornis (A. Narendra).JPG

At a Glance • Polygynous  



Keys including this Species


A common tramp ant that has been spread to most of the world's subtropical and tropical areas with substantial human populations.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Cameroun, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Saint Helena, Senegal (type locality), Socotra Archipelago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen.
Australasian Region: Australia, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island.
Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Indonesia, Kiribati, Krakatau Islands, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), New Guinea, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Réunion, Seychelles.
Nearctic Region: United States.
Neotropical Region: Anguilla, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Galapagos Islands, Greater Antilles, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Lesser Antilles, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Venezuela.
Oriental Region: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Maldives, Nepal, Nicobar Island, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam.
Palaearctic Region: Bahrain, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Canary Islands, China, Estonia, France, Iberian Peninsula, Iran, Israel, Japan, Libya, Malta, Oman, Spain, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


San Cristóbal, República Dominicana. Video by Judá Isaí Martínez Uribe.

Sharaf et al. (2017) report on this species in Yemen: The known habitats of this species are diverse, no doubt enabling its wide distribution. We observed Paratrechina longicornis nesting in moist soil under a rock adjacent to a date palm tree. Another nest was collected from dry soil under shrub Frangula alnus Mill. (Rhamnaceae). Many workers were found in leaf litter under a date palm tree where the soil was moist and rich in accumulated sheep and goat faeces. Several workers were foraging in leaf litter on dry soil under an Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter (Poaceae) tree, where the soil was dry. A nest was observed under a rock in moist, compacted, clay soil. Hundreds of workers were foraging in moist leaf litter and on twigs of a small shrub. Several workers were nesting under a stone in humid soil and next to banana plantations. A nest was found under a rock next to a dragon blood tree, Dracaena cinnabari Balf.f. (Asparagaceae). This species has been reported as a pest in greenhouses in both temperate and tropical regions (Nylander 1856; Motschoulsky 1863).

Bertelsmeier et al. (2015) examined elements of interspecific aggression between this species and several other highly invasive ants. In laboratory assays Paratrechina longicornis was adept at avoiding aggressive interactions. When confronted by workers of other invasive ant species P. longicornis either acted indifferently or moved away.

Florida (USA) - Introduced into Florida and found as far north and west as Leon County, but much commoner in south Florida. Pest status: a minor nuisance in outdoor eating areas, and frequently enters buildings where there is easy access to the outside. First published Florida record: Smith 1930. (Deyrup, Davis & Cover, 2000.)


McCreery et al. (2019) tested movement initiation and obstacle navigation in group foraging. Baits of various sizes were used, with testing conducted in the field in Tempe, Arizona. They found P. longicornis excel at cooperative transport despite wide load variation. The effects of load properties vary across transport challenges, and groups struggling to move large loads may find obstacle navigation easier once a load has begun to be moved.

Nesting Habits

Jaffe (1993) reported that at low tide on the beaches of Mumbai, India, hundreds of meters of new coast are exposed, filled with marine debris and human detritus. In this area, some 100 m from the high tide line, he found colonies of Paratrechina longicornis nesting in the sand and foraging on the debris around their nest up to 25 m away. Nest density was very high (estimated in over 1 nest/ m2), although as colonies are known to be polydomic and all nests likely formed a single colony. These ants have to hide in their nests at high tide, which probably are protected from flooding thanks to trapped air in their galleries.

Chemical Ecology

LeBrun et al. (2015) found a behaviour, first noted and resulting from interactions between Solenopsis invicta and Nylanderia fulva, that detoxifies fire ant venom is expressed widely across ants in the subfamily Formicinae. This behavior was also studied and shown in experiments with P. longicornis. See the biology section of the N. fulva page for a description of acidopore grooming and the use of formic acid for detoxification of a specific class of venoms that are produced by ants that may interact with formicines in the context of predation and food competition.

Association with Other Organisms





Additional images can be found here.


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

  • longicornis. Formica longicornis Latreille, 1802c: 113 (w.) SENEGAL. Jerdon, 1851: 124 (q.); André, 1881b: 60 (m.); Hung, Imai & Kubota, 1972: 1024 (k.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1986d: 336 (l.); Fox, et al. 2007: 3 (l.). Combination in Prenolepis: Roger, 1863b: 10; in Pr. (Nylanderia): Emery, 1910a: 129; in Paratrechina: Wheeler, W.M. 1921e: 112. Senior synonym of currens: Emery, 1892b: 166; of gracilescens: Roger, 1863b: 10; of vagans: Dalla Torre, 1893: 179. Senior synonym of hagemanni: LaPolla, Brady & Shattuck, 2010a: 128. See also: Mayr, 1865: 50; Forel, 1891b: 81; Forel, 1894c: 406; Emery, 1910a: 129; Trager, 1984b: 153.
  • vagans. Formica vagans Jerdon, 1851: 124 (w.q.) INDIA. [Unresolved junior primary homonym of Formica vagans Olivier, 1792: 501.] Junior synonym of longicornis: Dalla Torre, 1893: 179; Forel, 1894c: 408.
  • gracilescens. Formica gracilescens Nylander, 1856a: xxviii (w.) FRANCE. [Also described as new by Nylander, 1856b: 73.] Junior synonym of longicornis: Roger, 1863b: 10.
  • currens. Paratrechina currens Motschoulsky, 1863: 14 (w.) SRI LANKA. Junior synonym of longicornis: Emery, 1892b: 166. Neotype designated: LaPolla, Brady & Shattuck, 2010b: 1.
  • hagemanni. Prenolepis longicornis var. hagemanni Forel, 1901h: 65 (w.) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. Combination in Paratrechina: Emery, 1925b: 217. Junior synonym of longicornis: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 942. Revived from synonymy: Emery, 1925b: 217. Junior synonym of longicornis: LaPolla, Brady & Shattuck, 2010a: 128.

Type Material

  • Formica longicornis: Syntype, worker(s), Senegal.

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



LaPolla et al. (2013) - Measurements in millimeters (n=4): TL: 2.1- 2.5; HW: 0.46-56; HL: 0.49-0.7; EL: 0.17-0.23; SL: 0.98-1.16; PW: 0.34-0.43; WL: 0.82-0.98; PrFL: 0.6-0.9; GL: 0.83-0.9. Indices: CI: 73-94; REL2: 38-42 ; SI: 182-226.

Overall coloration pale to very dark brown, often with a distinct blueish iridescent sheen, especially on the mesosoma and gaster. Mandibles, antennae and legs (especially the trochanters of all legs, which are a strongly contrasting very pale yellow-brown) much lighter in color; cuticle smooth and moderately shining with faint shagreenate sculpture, which is most obvious on head and gaster. Head narrow, distinctly longer than broad, with abundant pale (yellow-brown to almost white), erect macrosetae; anterior clypeal margin with a shallow medial indentation; scapes with a dense layer of very fine pubescence but lacking erect macrosetae; eyes large and convex, extending beyond head lateral margin in full frontal view; posterior head margin with rounded posterolateral corners; three distinct ocelli present. Mesosoma with scattered pale erect macrosetae (PSC = 3; MSC = 3-4); in profile pronotum and mesonotum almost flat dorsally, with a broadly angled junction; metanotal area relatively indistinct, medially about 1/5 the length of the mesonotum but longer laterally than medially; dorsum of propodeum almost flat to very shallowly domed, rounding evenly into the short declivitious face; anterolateral portion of dorsal face with some scattered pubescence. Gaster with abundant erect pale macrosetae.


  • n = 8, 2n = 16, karyotype = 14M+2A (India) (Imai et al., 1984).
  • n = 16 (Indonesia) (Imai et al., 1985).
  • 2n = 16 (Taiwan) (Hung et al., 1972).