Polyrhachis rastellata

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Polyrhachis rastellata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Camponotini
Genus: Polyrhachis
Subgenus: Cyrtomyrma
Species: P. rastellata
Binomial name
Polyrhachis rastellata
(Latreille, 1802)

Polyrhachis rastellata casent0903407 p 1 high.jpg

Polyrhachis rastellata casent0903407 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


The identity and distribution of this species has not been firmly established (see below) hence little can be inferred from any records about Polyrhachis rastellata biology.

Photo Gallery

  • Polyrhachis rastellata worker from Kerala, India. Photo by Kalesh Sadasivan.


Polyrhachis rastellata resembles Polyrhachis lepida. Polyrhachis lepida is generally smaller, with a distinctly more convex occiput and longer antennal scapes (SI 128-136 versus 111-123 in Polyrhachis rastellata). The petiolar spines differ, with the lateral pair in Polyrhachis lepida distinctly longer than the dorsal pair. In contrast, the petiolar spines in Polyrhachis rastellata are subequal or the lateral pair is somewhat shorter than the dorsal pair. The two species also differ in the colour of their legs with those of Polyrhachis lepida consistently darker. (Modified from Kohout 2006).

Keys including this Species


In the literature, Polyrhachis rastellata has been reported to occur over most of south-east Asia and south across Indonesia and New Guinea to northern Australia. However, many of these records are linked to the numerous infraspecies connected to that name. Several authors, including Mayr (1872: 138) and Wheeler (1919: 136) listed Polyrhachis rastellata from Borneo and various authors have listed it from New Guinea. Consequently, I have included it in the lists and keys of species from both regions. However, I have not seen any Bornean or New Guinean material satisfactorily comparable with the specimens from India that Donisthorpe considered to be Polyrhachis rastellata and I believe that the nominal form is restricted to India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and former Indochina, including Sumatra and possibly Java. (Kohout 2006)

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Indonesia (type locality), Malaysia, New Guinea, Philippines.
Oriental Region: India, Sri Lanka, Thailand.
Palaearctic Region: China.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb





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

  • rastellata. Formica rastellata Latreille, 1802c: 130 (q.) INDONESIA ("Indes orientales"). Mayr, 1862: 688 (w.); Mayr, 1876: 70 (m.); Crozier, 1970: 115 (k.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1990b: 756 (l.). Combination in Polyrhachis: Smith, F. 1858b: 59; in P. (Cyrtomyrma): Forel, 1915b: 107. Senior synonym of ceylonensis Donisthorpe: Dorow, 1995: 24. See also: Kohout, 2006b: 114. Current subspecies: nominal plus congener.
  • ceylonensis. Polyrhachis (Cyrtomyrma) rastellata var. ceylonensis Donisthorpe, 1938c: 256 (w.) SRI LANKA. [Unresolved junior primary homonym of ceylonensis Emery, above.] Junior synonym of rastellata: Dorow, 1995: 24.

Type Material

  • Formica rastellata: Holotype, queen, Indonesia.

Taxonomic Notes

The identity and range of Polyrhachis rastellata is somewhat muddled. Kohout (2006) explains: "During the past two centuries more than twenty infraspecific names have been connected to this name. My current interpretation of this species is based upon specimens from India that Donisthorpe considered to be Polyrhachis rastellata [‘Described from an Indian specimen (Wroughton)’ (Donisthorpe, 1938)]. However, the type locality of Polyrhachis rastellata is the ‘Indes orientales’ or the East Indies, and probably corresponds to modern day Malaysia and Indonesia. Consequently, interpreting Polyrhachis rastellata based on Indian material may well be incorrect. It would be highly desirable to establish the nomenclatural stability of this species by the designation of a neotype. However, I believe that such an action would not be appropriate here, as I have not attempted a revision of the Asian fauna of the subgenus."

From Kohout (2006): The holotype queen of Polyrhachis rastellata was apparently lost “a long time ago” (J. Casevitz Weulersse, Musee National d'Histoire Naturelle, pers. comm.). The type locality, given as the East Indies ("Indes Orientales"), probably corresponds to modern Malaysia and Indonesia.



  • n = 21, 2n = 42, karyotype = 8M+34SM (Malaysia) (Crozier, 1970b; Imai et al., 1983).


  • Baltazar, C. R. 1966. A catalogue of Philippine Hymenoptera (with a bibliography, 1758-1963). Pac. Insects Monogr. 8: 1-488 (page 275, listed)
  • Crozier, R. H. 1970a. Karyotypes of twenty-one ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with reviews of the known ant karyotypes. Can. J. Genet. Cytol. 12: 109-128 (page 115, karyotype described)
  • Dorow, W. H. O. 1995. Revision of the ant genus Polyrhachis Smith, 1857 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Formicinae) on subgenus level with keys, checklist of species and bibliography. Cour. Forschungsinst. Senckenb. 185: 1-113 (page 24, Senior synonym of ceylonensis Donisthorpe)
  • Forel, A. 1915b. Results of Dr. E. Mjöbergs Swedish Scientific Expeditions to Australia 1910-13. 2. Ameisen. Ark. Zool. 9(1 16: 1-119 (page 107, Combination in P. (Cyrtomyrma))
  • Kohout, R. J. 2006. Review of Polyrhachis (Cyrtomyrma) Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Formicinae) of Australia, Borneo, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands with descriptions of new species. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 52:87-146.
  • Latreille, P.A. 1802. Histoire Naturelle des Fourmis, et recueil de mémoires et d’observations sur les abeilles, les araignées, les faucheurs, et autres insectes. Paris.
  • Latreille, P. A. 1802b. Histoire naturelle générale et particulière des Crustacés et des insectes. Tome 3. Familles naturelles des genres. Paris: F. Dufart, xii + 467 pp. (page 130, queen described)
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 688, worker described)
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 688, Senior synonym of busiris)
  • Mayr, G. 1876. Die australischen Formiciden. J. Mus. Godeffroy 12: 56-115 (page 70, male described)
  • Roger, J. 1863b. Verzeichniss der Formiciden-Gattungen und Arten. Berl. Entomol. Z. 7(B Beilage: 1-65 (page 6, Senior synonym of busiris)
  • Smith, F. 1858a. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 59, Combination in Polyrhachis)
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1990b. Larvae of the formicine ant genus Polyrhachis. Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc. 116: 753-767 (page 756, larva described)