Tapinoma litorale

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Tapinoma litorale
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Genus: Tapinoma
Species: T. litorale
Binomial name
Tapinoma litorale
Wheeler, W.M., 1905

Tapinoma litorale casent0104532 profile 1.jpg

Tapinoma litorale casent0104532 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


This species, which is sufficiently distinct from all the species of Tapinoma of which I have seen descriptions, was very common at Card 's Point, Florida, along the Southern Bight, Andros Island, at West Bay, and about Nassau, N. P. (Fort Charlotte, Blue Hills, Hog Key, etc.). In all of these localities it was found nesting along the, ‘swashes' and beaches between the leaves of Tillandsias, in the hollow culms of Uniola and Cladium, or in the twigs of trees and bushes. It thus resembles in habits Tapinoma ramulorum Emery from Costa Rica. The nest entrance in the culms consisted of a little perforated papilla of gray vegetable paste made by the ants. This papilla projected slightly from the outer surface of the culm, and was often continued a short distance into the cavity inhabited by the insects. Males were found in all the nests opened during May and June. At Card's Point the species seemed to have a predilection for forming double nests with other ants; at any rate I found several colonies living in the same Tillandsias with colonies of Cephalotes varians, Pseudomyrmex elongatulus, or Camponotus planatus. These double nests were in all respects similar to those which I have described from Mexico as cases of parabiosis. (Wheeler 1905).

At a Glance • Polygynous  • Brachypterous Queen  • Xenobiotic  


Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 29.1° to 9.2°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States.
Neotropical Region: Bahamas (type locality), Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Venezuela.

It has also been found in the United States.

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.


Jack Longino: This species occurs in lowland rainforest. It is arboreal, nesting in thin dead sticks or other small plant cavities in highly insolated microhabitats, such as forest edges or high in the canopy. For example, I observed one nest in the core of a thin, soft rotten stick. There was a small tubular chamber in the center, about 5cm long, that housed a total of 20 adult workers and one dealate queen. Most colonies I have seen have been polygynous, with multiple dealate queens in nests.

Life History Traits

  • Queen number: polygynous (Frumhoff & Ward, 1992)


Queen described as brachypterous (J. Heinze, pers. comm.)


Images from AntWeb

Tapinoma litorale casent0105858 head 1.jpgTapinoma litorale casent0105858 profile 1.jpgTapinoma litorale casent0105858 dorsal 1.jpgTapinoma litorale casent0105858 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0105858. Photographer Dan Kjar, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by USNM, Washington, DC, USA.
MCZ-ENT00022634 Tapinoma litorale had.jpg


Images from AntWeb

Tapinoma litorale casent0104533 head 1.jpgTapinoma litorale casent0104533 profile 1.jpgTapinoma litorale casent0104533 dorsal 1.jpgTapinoma litorale casent0104533 label 1.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0104533. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ABS, Lake Placid, FL, USA.


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

  • litorale. Tapinoma litorale Wheeler, W.M. 1905b: 109 (w.q.m.) BAHAMAS. Current subspecies: nominal plus cubaense.

Taxonomic Notes

Jack Longino: I take a broad view of litorale, to include Tapinoma panamense Wheeler 1934 (and its synonym canalis Wheeler 1942). There is considerable variation and there could well be multiple cryptic species.

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



Length 1.25-1.5 mm.

Head, excluding the mandibles, a little longer than broad, as broad behind as in front, with convex cheeks and straight posterior border. Eyes small, with about 6-7 ommatidia in the longitudinal diameter, flattened, in front of the middle of the head. Mandibles multidenticulate along their entire inner edges, the teeth on the basal portion of the blade being very minute, but gradually increasing in length to the apex. Clypeus broadly rounded in front, slightly sinuate in the middle of the anterior border. Antennal scapes not reaching the posterior angles of the head; first funicular joint as long as the two succeeding joints, second joint broader than long; joints 3-10 subequal, hardly longer than broad, terminal as long as the three preceding joints, constricted at its base, so that it seems to form a one-jointed club. Thorax of the usual shape. Petiole with flattened upper surface, without a node. Basal segment of gaster concealing the petiole. Anus large and terminal.

Subopaque throughout, the surface of the body microscopically reticulate; mandibles feebly punctate.

Body, antennae, and legs uniformly covered with very fine white pubescence. There are a few inconspicuous white hairs on the gaster, clypeus, and mandibles but none on the thorax.

Pale yellow; upper surface of body brownish in some specimens, which have also the posterior edges of the gastric segments broadly yellow. Eyes and mandibular teeth black.


(dealated). — Length 3-3.5 mm.

Head distinctly narrowed in front. Antennal scape reaching to the posterior corner of the head; terminal joint less distinctly separated from the rest of the funiculus than in the worker. Gaster long and narrow.

Sculpture, pilosity, and pubescence as in the worker, except that the hairs at the tip of the gaster are more numerous.

Head and thorax yellow, with their dorsal surfaces dark brown. Gaster dark brown, posterior edges of segments broadly yellow. Antennre, mouthparts, legs, and petiole yellow. Mandibular teeth and eyes black.


Length 1.3-1.5 mm.

Head large, excluding the mandibles and including the very large prominent eyes, as broad as long. Cheeks very short; postocular borders straight, converging behind, posterior border straight. Ocelli large and protruding. Mandibles hardly as long as the eyes, acute, with finely and obscurely denticulate blades. Clypeus short, with straight anterior border. Antennal scape long, reaching to the posterior corner of the head, funicular joints subequal, distinctly longer than broad, terminal joint about 1 1/2 times as long as the preceding. Thorax rather small, thickset; mesonotum not arched above, hardly as broad as the head. Epinotum sloping, faintly angular in profile. Gaster with large, exserted genitalia, the outer appendages of which are broadly rounded. Wings with one cubital and no discal cell.

Surface of body much more shining than in the worker, microscopically reticulate.

Hairs almost completely absent; pubescence much more dilute than in the worker.

Pale yellow; upper surface of head, thorax, and gaster brownish ; antennae slightly infuscated, inner borders of mandibles black.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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