Temnothorax smithi

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Temnothorax smithi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Temnothorax
Species group: rugatulus
Species: T. smithi
Binomial name
Temnothorax smithi
(Baroni Urbani, 1978)

Temnothorax smithi casent0104053 profile 1.jpg

Temnothorax smithi casent0104053 dorsal 1.jpg


Arboreal and nesting in cavities in trees under bark. This species is common in Ohio, nesting in galleries of hardened, weathered logs and old, deserted cabins exposed to the sun. Sexuals were found in nests in early August. Workers were observed feeding on exuviae of wood-boring beetles. This species is very desiccation resistance, having 3 rectal pads, which are used to absorb water from the feces. Modified from Mackay (2000) with information from Wesson and Wesson (1940) and Hood and Tschinkel (1990)."


Mackay (2000) - A member of the Temnothorax silvestrii species complex. This is a large (total length over 3mm), concolorous reddish-brown species in which the head is very roughly sculptured with coarse rugae and roughened intrarugal spaces, that are only slightly shiny. The antenna has 11 segments. The propodeal spines are very well developed, their length is nearly equal to the distance between the tips. The subpetiolar process is developed, but not large. The node of the petiole is truncate in profile.

This species is similar to Temnothorax silvestrii, having the same roughened sculpture, the raised area anterior to the antennal fossa (similar to Tetramorium), the long propodeal spines and the nearly quadrate petiolar node. Thus it is considered to be a member of the silvestrii species complex. It is unlikely that this species would be confused with any other species in the subgenus Myrafant. It can be easily separated from Temnothorax silvestrii on the basis of the distribution (Temnothorax smithi in the eastern half of the US, Temnothorax silvestrii in Arizona) and the gaster is completely smooth and glossy (sculptured in Temnothorax silvestrii). In addition, Temnothorax smithi has an 11-segmented antenna, whereas Temnothorax silvestrii has a 12-segmented antenna.

Keys including this Species


United States: Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 39.492° to 27.18333°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).

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.



Open areas with trees.




Regional Notes


"One colony was found nesting in an oak tree, apparently in the hardwood where the ants could be seen entering and leaving by small holes in the wood which I believe to have been made by some small boring beetle. March 20, 1922 I found a colony nesting in a niche in a dead. but fallen cottonwood tree. In this colony were 2 dealated females, 31 workers and a number of larvae, but no other immature forms. Apri1 25, 1928 another colony was found nesting in a cavity beneath the bark of a well rotted pine stump. In this nest were found 3 dealated females, 40 workers, and numerous larvae. When the nest was disturbed the workers made frantic efforts to conceal themselves by crawling in small crevices, etc. The ants have also been taken in similar habitats at Adaton, Mississippi. Nothing is known concerning their feeding habits." (Smith 1929)


Temnothorax smithi appears to be a polygynous species (Smith 1929).

Nesting Habits

Makes nests in dead and live trees.


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

  • wheeleri. Leptothorax wheeleri Smith, M.R. 1929: 547, fig. 1 (w.q.) U.S.A. Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1989a: 323 (l.). Combination in L. (Myrafant): Smith, D.R. 1979: 1395. [Junior secondary homonym of wheeleri Mann, above.] Replacement name: smithi Baroni Urbani, 1978b: 557.
  • smithi. Leptothorax smithi Baroni Urbani, 1978b: 557. Replacement name for Leptothorax wheeleri Smith, M.R. 1929: 547. [Junior secondary homonym of Macromischa wheeleri Mann, 1920: 422.] Combination in Temnothorax: Bolton, 2003: 272. See also: Mackay, 2000: 409.

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



(Smith 1929) Worker.-Length: 2.2-2.9 mm. Head, rather large, subrectangular, excluding the mandibles, slightly longer than broad, with practically straight posterior border, rounded posterior angles and feebly convex, almost straight, subparallel sides. Eyes moderately large, oval, convex, placed at a distance from the mandibles equivalent to or slightly surpassing their greatest diameter. Mandibles with 5 distinct teeth. Clypeus convex, with rounded anterior border, and a rounded posterior border extending for some distance between the frontal carince. Frontal area obsolete. Antennae 11-segmented; scapes fairly robust not attaining the posterior angles of the head, first segment of the funiculi almost as long as the next three taken together, the distal segment longer than the two preceding segments taken together. Thorax robust, narrower than the head, anteriorly with rounded, yet distinct humeral angles; dorsum convex, sides not laterally compressed as with fortinodis and related species. Epinotal spines rather robust, long and curved, slowly narrowing to their apices which are directed upward, backward, and outward. Petiole viewed in lateral profile, not strikingly larger than the postpetiole, with feebly concave anterior and faintly convex or somewhat flattened dorsal surface, below with a distinct ventral tooth. Postpetiolar node strongly convex dorsally. Gaster viewed from above oval, truncate at base, with distinct humeral angles, apex with a sting. Legs stout, with inC'rassated femora.

Head, thorax, petiole, postpetiole and antennae opaque. Mandibles longitudinally striated. Clypeus coarsely, longitudinally rugulose. Head, thorax, and petiole rather coarsely rugulose-recticulate, with the interspaces finely punctate; on the head and thorax the rugulae are decidedly longitudinal. Post petiole finely punctate. Gaster smooth and shining, the legs less so.

Hairs light yellowish or grayish, short and rather abundant, erect on the head, thorax, epinotal spines, petiole, postpetiole and gaster.

Color, light to dark ferruginous red; gaster except the posterior borders of the segments and legs slightly paler. Mandibular teeth black. Antennae somewhat infuscated, especially the funiculi.


(Smith 1929) Female (dealated).-Length: 3.9-4.2 mm. Like the worker in coloration except that the ocelli, the mesoparapteral furrows, the wing insertions, the posterior edge of the scutellum, the metanotum, and a rather broad band at the distal end of the first gastric segment and a fainter band at the tip of the second and third gastric segments are infuscated.

Sculpturing similar to that of the worker, but coarser, especially on the thorax. Epinotal spines not as proportionally large as with the worker, but shorter and blunter, the intraspinal spaces greater than the length of either epinotal spine. The petiolar node of the female is decidedly more convex dorsally and has a sharper more abrupt posterior slope than that of the worker.

Pilosity and pubescence not noticeably different from that of the worker.


The male is undescribed.

Type Material

Mackay (2000) - A. & M. College, Mississippi (now known as Mississippi State University, which is located in Starkville). American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Comparative Zoology, National Museum of Natural History [seen].


Commemorative. The original name was a homonym and was replaced with smithi after the ant taxonomist M.R. Smith, who first described the species.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Annotated Ant Species List Ordway-Swisher Biological Station. Downloaded at http://ordway-swisher.ufl.edu/species/os-hymenoptera.htm on 5th Oct 2010.
  • Carroll T. M. 2011. The ants of Indiana (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Master's Thesis Purdue university, 385 pages.
  • Coovert G. A. 2005. The Ants of Ohio (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ohio Biological Survey, Inc. 15(2): 1-207.
  • Coovert, G.A. 2005. The Ants of Ohio (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Ohio Biological Survey Bulletin New Series Volume 15(2):1-196
  • Deyrup M., C. Johnson, G. C. Wheeler, J. Wheeler. 1989. A preliminary list of the ants of Florida. Florida Entomologist 72: 91-101
  • Deyrup, M. 2003. An updated list of Florida ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Florida Entomologist 86(1):43-48.
  • Deyrup, M. and J. Trager. 1986. Ants of the Archbold Biological Station, Highlands County, Florida (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Florida Entomologist 69(1):206-228
  • Ipser R. M. 2004. Native and exotic ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Georgia: Ecological Relationships with implications for development of biologically-based management strategies. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Georgia. 165 pages.
  • Ipser, R.M., M.A. Brinkman, W.A. Gardner and H.B. Peeler. 2004. A Survey of Ground-Dwelling Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Georgia. The Florida Entomologist 87(3) 253-260.
  • Ivanov, K. 2019. The ants of Ohio (Hymenoptera, Formicidae): an updated checklist. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 70: 65–87.
  • Johnson C. 1986. A north Florida ant fauna (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insecta Mundi 1: 243-246
  • Lubertazzi D. and Tschinkel WR. 2003. Ant community change across a ground vegetation gradient in north Florida’s longleaf pine flatwoods. 17pp. Journal of Insect Science. 3:21
  • MacGown J. A., J. G. Hill, and M. Deyrup. 2009. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Little Ohoopee River Dunes, Emanuel County, Georgia. J. Entomol. Sci. 44(3): 193-197.
  • MacGown, J.A. and JV.G. Hill. Ants of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee and North Carolina).
  • Wilson E. O. 1952. Notes on Leptothorax bradleyi Wheeler and L. wheeleri M. R. Smith (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomological News 63: 67-71.