Prionopelta kraepelini

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Prionopelta kraepelini
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Amblyoponinae
Tribe: Amblyoponini
Genus: Prionopelta
Species: P. kraepelini
Binomial name
Prionopelta kraepelini
Forel, 1905

Prionopelta kraepelini casent0102524 profile 1.jpg

Prionopelta kraepelini casent0102524 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

In some SE Asian areas, collected from leaf litter samples in forested areas (mainly rainforests but including parkland on volcanic soil). In other locales it is primarily found in disturbed sites. The contrasting habitats that it has been found in, along with collections occurring across a wide range, suggests this ant is a tramp species.

At a Glance • Larval Hemolymph Feeding  • Limited invasive  


Shattuck (2008) - Sculpturing on dorsum of pronotum consisting of fine punctations which contrast markedly with widely spaced foveae on mesonotum and propodeum, the foveae on the propodeum varying in density across its width (weakest medially, stronger laterally). Head width less than 0.48mm. Petiole relatively narrow, PetW less than 0.21.

Brown (1960) confused this species with Prionopelta opaca and didn’t recognize the specimens here placed in Prionopelta robynmae as belonging to a separate species. In fact, all three of these species, while morphologically similar, can be separated as follows. In true kraepelini the sculpturing on the pronotum consists of small, fine punctures which contrast strongly with the widely spaced foveae on the mesonotum and propodeum. In opaca the pronotal sculpturing is composed of widely spaced foveae which are only slightly more dense than those on the mesonotum and propodeum. And in robynmae the sculpturing consists of small foveae on the pronotum which contrasts markedly with the widely spaced foveae on mesonotum and propodeum. In addition, the density of the sculpturing across the width of the propodeum is variable (weakest medially, stronger laterally) in kraepelini and robynmae and uniform in opaca. The shape of the petiolar node also differs across these species. It is narrowest and shortest in kraepelini, relatively longer and broader in opaca and long but narrow in robynmae. Essentially all presently known material can be unambiguously sorted into three sets representing these three taxa based on these character systems. In all other respects the material of these taxa is essentially identical or the differences are slight and random and show no obvious patterns. While kraepelini is allopatric to the others, opaca and robynmae have been collected together (from the same litter sample) in PNG.

The only apparent exception to this pattern is a single collection from Palolo, Palu, C. Celebes, Indonesia. In these specimens, the punctations on the propodeal dorsum are somewhat intermediate between kraepelini and opaca, although they are more similar to typical kraepelini than typical opaca. This is consistent with other material from Sulawesi which is typical of kraepelini. A reexamination of Brown’s Micronesian material has failed to uncover his “intergradient” forms as all could be placed with confidence into kraepelini, opaca or robynmae.

Keys including this Species


Shattuck (2008) - This is one of the most widely distributed species in the genus, being found from Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia east through the Philippines and Micronesia to Samoa.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 32.4635° to -6.75°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Fiji, Indonesia (type locality), Krakatau Islands, Malaysia, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore.
Oriental Region: India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan.
Palaearctic Region: China.

  • Hamer et al. (2023), Fig. 2. Distribution map of Amblyoponinae species in Hong Kong (SAR), iNat = iNaturalist. A) Prionopelta kraepelini; B) Stigmatomma amblyops, S. crypticum, S. draconis; C) Stigmatomma luyiae, S. pagei, S. zwaluwenburgi; D) Stigmatomma nr. quadratum. Dark green zones indicate greater tree cover.

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.


Hamer et al. (2023) - Leaf litter sampling within urban green spaces have resulted in numerous collections of P. kraepelini throughout Hong Kong. Urban sampling sites had little leaf litter hummus layer, and were largely composed of loose soil, stones and general anthropogenic debris. Sampling from more natural environments such as secondary forests, Feng Shui Woods and shrub lands, while commonly performed, has resulted in no specimens (Lee et al., 2021, Nooten et al., 2021). The collection of specimens from urban environments in Hong Kong reinforces the hypothesis that this species is indeed an exotic tramp species, being easily relocated via anthropogenic means (Ward 2006). In contrast, in Macau where recent surveys were performed and included leaf litter extractions, no P. kraepelini individuals have been detected to this date (Leong et al., 2017; Brassard et al., 2021).

The relative commonness of P. kraepelini in Hong Kong is interesting to note as this species is known only from a single collection in both Taiwan (Liuguei, Kaohsiung province, Terayama 2009) and Vietnam (Hanoi periphery, Anh et al., 2010), which represents the closest geographic records, but still located at 650 km and 850 km respectively from Hong Kong. While ecological information in Taiwan is missing, the record from Hanoi was collected from an organic Pomelo orchard, thus supporting the affinity of this species for disturbed habitats and exotic status in East Asia. Similarly, records from northern India were collected along roadsides and within fragmented habitats, but not in forested habitats (Bharti & Wachkoo 2012), while those from Sri Lanka appears to originate from a small forest fragment surrounded by urban development, based on Google Earth observations, with no ecological information provided directly in the original article (Dias et al., 2018). In contrast, other material collected from SE Asia appears to originate principally from forested habitats (Shattuck 2008) suggesting a native range that includes the Sundaland and Wallacean regions. Recent records from southern Thailand and collected in 2019 are from both secondary forests and oil palm plantation (Khachonpisitsak et al., 2020, Jaitrong pers. comm.), and the records from the Philippines did not include ecological information (General & Alpert 2012). Using Google Earth; specimens from the Philippines within Shattuck (2008) seemed to be recorded in both urban and agricultural habitats (MCZCT-215615), including a parkland (ANIC32-026204). It should be noted, however, that most of these specimens were collected within the last one hundred years, and the likelihood of environmental change since collection remains a possibility. While available information about the ecology of P. kraepelini is still fragmentary, habitat use observed for this species in several regions (Hong Kong, NW India, North Vietnam, Sri Lanka) suggest that it may have been introduced there, and that its native range may be limited to regions south of Peninsular Malaysia, the Philippines and the Wallacean region.


  • Hamer et al. (2023), Fig. 1. Prionopelta kraepelini, worker (ANTWEB1010881): A) head view B) lateral view C) dorsal view; alate queen (ANTWEB1010878): D) head view E) lateral view F) dorsal view; male (ANTWEB1010879): G) head view H) lateral view I) dorsal view.


. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Images from AntWeb

Prionopelta kraepelini casent0172314 head 1.jpgPrionopelta kraepelini casent0172314 profile 1.jpgPrionopelta kraepelini casent0172314 dorsal 1.jpgPrionopelta kraepelini casent0172314 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0172314. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ANIC, Canberra, Australia.


Images from AntWeb

Prionopelta kraepelini casent0172315 head 1.jpgPrionopelta kraepelini casent0172315 profile 1.jpgPrionopelta kraepelini casent0172315 profile 2.jpgPrionopelta kraepelini casent0172315 dorsal 1.jpgPrionopelta kraepelini casent0172315 label 1.jpg
Male (alate). Specimen code casent0172315. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ANIC, Canberra, Australia.


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

  • kraepelini. Prionopelta kraepelini Forel, 1905c: 3 (w.q.) INDONESIA (Java).
    • Type-material: syntype workers, syntype queens (numbers not stated).
    • Type-locality: Indonesia: Java, Buitenzorg (= Bogor), iii.1944 (K. Kraepelin).
    • Type-depository: MHNG.
    • Bharti & Wachkoo, 2012c: 818 (m.).
    • Status as species: Emery, 1911d: 33; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 26; Brown, 1960a: 177, 220; Wilson & Taylor, 1967: 19; Terayama, 1989b: 343; Dlussky, 1994: 53; Bolton, 1995b: 365; Lin & Wu, 2003: 67; Wetterer & Vargo, 2003: 416; Clouse, 2007b: 259; Shattuck, 2008b: 23 (redescription); Terayama, 2009: 95; Zhou & Ran, 2010: 102; Pfeiffer, et al. 2011: 32 Bharti & Wachkoo, 2012c: 816 (redescription); Sarnat & Economo, 2012: 23; Bharti, Guénard, et al. 2016: 18.
    • Distribution: Australia, Fiji Is, India, Indonesia (Java, Sulawesi), Malaysia (Peninsula, Sabah, Sarawak), Micronesia, Philippines (Luzon, Negros, Quezon), Samoa, Taiwan.

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



Hamer et al. (2023) - (n=9); HL 0.47-0.51; HW1 0.35-0.39; SL 0.24-0.27; ML 0.21-0.25; WL 0.55-0.61; DPW 0.18-0.21; DPL 0.14-0.17; T1W 0.3-0.35; GL 0.67-0.79; TL 2.29-2.58; CI 75.55-81.68; MI 41.91-49.21; SI 65.82-71.97; PI 125.15-145

Shattuck (2008) - Anterolateral corners of head, near mandibular insertions, rounded and lacking a tooth. Dorsal pronotal sculpturing consisting of fine punctations which contrast markedly with widely spaced foveae on mesonotum and propodeum. Foveae on dorsum of propodeum varying across its width (weakest medially, stronger laterally). Lateral mesosomal sculpturing consisting of small foveae on pronotum and anterior and ventral region of mesopleuron, dorsal region of mesopleuron and majority of propodeum smooth. Fenestra generally present but sometimes weakly developed within subpetiolar process. Colour pale yellow to yellow-red.


Hamer et al. (2023) - (alate) (n=1); HL 0.65-0.65; HW1 0.52-0.52; SL 0.35-0.35; ML 0.25-0.25; WL 0.87-0.87; DPW 0.27-0.27; DPL 0.16-0.16; T1W 0.4-0.4; GL 1-1; TL 3.2-3.2; CI 80.15-80.15; MI 39.08-39.08; SI 67.61-67.61; PI 170.37-170.37


Hamer et al. (2023) - (n=10); HL 0.41-0.49; HW1 0.44-0.5; SL 0.14-0.16; ML 0.17-0.21; WL 0.66-0.78; DPW 0.15-0.2; DPL 0.11-0.18; T1W 0.26-0.33; GL 0.59-0.84 ; TL 2.16-2.66 ; CI 93.21-109.39; MI 37.42-48.09; SI 30-33.1; PI 82.44-140

Type Material


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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  • Brown W. L., Jr. 1960. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. III. Tribe Amblyoponini (Hymenoptera). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 122: 143-230.
  • CSIRO Collection
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