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Subfamily: Cerapachyinae   Forel, 1893 


Current Valid Name:


Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2017)

Cerapachysii Forel, 1893b PDF: 162. Type-genus: Cerapachys. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Subfamily Cerapachyinae references
Emery, 1895l PDF: 765 (diagnosis); Wheeler, 1910a: 136 (diagnosis); Emery, 1911e PDF: 5 (tribes key); Wheeler, 1922: 51, 636 (diagnosis, tribes key); Morley, 1939: 114 (phylogeny); Smith, 1947f PDF: 528 (U.S.A. diagnosis, genera); Brown, 1954e PDF: 26 (phylogeny, notes); Eisner, 1957 PDF: 476 (proventriculus morphology); Gotwald, 1969: 43 (mouthparts morphology); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1972a PDF: 37 (diagnosis); Kempf, 1972b PDF: 263 (Neotropical, synoptic classification); Brown, 1975 PDF: 11 (revision of tribes and genera, diagnoses); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1976b PDF: 46 (larvae, review & synthesis); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1985b PDF: 261 (diagnosis); Ogata, 1987a PDF: 129 (Japan genera); Bolton, 1990a PDF: 53 (abdominal morphology, diagnosis, synoptic classification, zoogeography); Bolton, 1990c PDF: 1356 (diagnosis, morphology, phylogeny); Brandão, 1991 PDF: 390 (Neotropical fauna, synoptic classification, genera); Baroni Urbani, Bolton & Ward, 1992 PDF: 316 (phylogeny); Jaffe, 1993: 7 (Neotropical genera, synoptic classification); Lattke, in Jaffe, 1993: 165 (Neotropical genera); Bolton, 1994: 18 (diagnosis, synoptic classification, key to genera); Bolton, 1995a PDF: 1038 (census); Bolton, 1995b: 10 (catalogue); Hölldobler, Obermayer & Peeters, 1996: 158 (metatibial gland); Perfil'eva, 2002: 1239 (venation); Palacio & Fernández, in CANNOT FIND REFERENCE WITH ID 133005 : 238 (Neotropical genera keys); Brady, 2003 PDF: 6575 (phylogeny); Bolton, 2003 PDF: 32, 137 (diagnosis, synopsis); Brady & Ward, 2005 PDF: 593 (phylogeny); Moreau, Bell, et al. 2006: 102 (phylogeny); Brady, Schultz, et al. 2006: 18173 (phylogeny); Ward, 2007C PDF: 555 (classification); Keller, 2011 PDF: 1 (morphology, phylogeny); General & Alpert, 2012 PDF: 70 (Philippines genera key).


Workers of Cerapachyinae can be identified by the structure of the pygidium (the last visible dorsal segment of the abdomen): it is flattened and armed with a pair of distally converging rows of teeth or spines. In addition, the frontal carinae are usually reduced and the antennal sockets are at least partly exposed; the pronotum is fused immovably to the mesonotum (with one exception); the propodeal spiracle is small, circular and located low on the side of the propodeum; and abdominal spiracles 5-7 are visible under normal distension of the segments.


This subfamily is represented by a single rare species in California. Cerapachyine ants are specialized predators of other ants and are most prevalent in the Old World tropics.


Bolton (1990a, 1990e, 1994); Brown (1975); Ogata (1987a).

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Treatment Citation: Wheeler, W. M., 1922, The ants collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition., Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 45, pp. 39-269


I have recently proposed to regard Forel's tribe " CerapachysHNS " as constituting an independent subfamily, the larvae of these ants being so different from those of the true Ponerinae and much more like the larvae of the Dorylinae.1 The limits of this new subfamily agree with those of Emery's section Prodorylinae, and Emery was probably right in contending that the CerapachyinaeHNS are intermediate between the Dorylinae and Ponerinae.

The worker caste has a ponerine habitus, but is often long and slender. The postpetiole is separated from the third abdominal segment by a well-marked constriction, and as broad as the third segment. In the Indoaustralian Eusphinctus even the gastric segments are marked off from one another. A powerful sting is present.

The characters of the female in the various genera are peculiarly diverse. In some cases ( PhyracacesHNS), this caste is winged and not unlike the females of certain Ponerinae; in others (Parasyscia, Eusphinctus), the female is wingless and ergatomorphic; and, in still others (Acanthostichus , Nothosphinctus), the female is so much like the corresponding caste in the Dorylinae that it might be regarded as a dichthadiigyne. The male, on the other hand, though lacking the cerci, has a decidedly ponerine habitus. The male genitalia are completely retractile; the subgenital lamina deeply and broadly furcate.

Wheeler, Wm. M,. 1920. 'The subfamilies of Formicidae, and other taxonomie notes. Psyche, XXVII. pp. 46-55.

The larvae are extremely like those of the Dorylinae; they are elongate and almost cylindrical, uniformly covered with short hairs, and without piliferous tubercles. The mandibles are small, narrow, pointed, and rather feebly chitinized, and I have failed to find a trophorhinium, or triturating organ in the mouth. Apparently the young are fed only on soft food. Moreover, the foraging habits at least of certain Australian Cerapachyinae (Phyracaces) resemble those of the Dorylinae.1

Dr. W. M. Mann has recently sent me specimens of his Cerapachys majusculusHNS from Fiji, with several worker pupae which are enclosed in well-developed, brown cocoons. The Cerapachyniae seem, therefore, to agree with the Ponerinae in this character.

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