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Subfamily: Cerapachyinae   Forel, 1893 


Current Valid Name:


Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2016)

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

Taxonomic history

Cerapachyinae as family: Bernard, 1951c: 1046 [Cerapachyidae]; Bernard, 1953b PDF: 215 [Cerapachyidae].
Cerapachyinae as group of Dorylinae: Emery, 1901b PDF: 36 [Cerapachinae].
Cerapachyinae as dorylomorph subfamily of Formicidae: Bolton, 2003 PDF: 32, 137; Brady & Ward, 2005 PDF: 593.
Cerapachyinae as formicoid subfamily of Formicidae: Moreau, Bell, et al. 2006: 102.
Cerapachyinae as formicoid dorylomorph subfamily of Formicidae: Brady, Schultz, et al. 2006: 18173; Ward, 2007C PDF: 555.
Subfamily Cerapachyinae references
Emery, 1895lEmery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zoologische Jahrbücher. Abteilung für Systematik, Geographie und Biologie der Tiere 8:685-778. [1895-10-18] PDF 124599: 765 (diagnosis); Wheeler, 1910aWheeler, W. M. 1910a. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. [1910-03] 130044: 136 (diagnosis); Emery, 1911eEmery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118:1-125. [1911-09-09] PDF 124702: 5 (tribes key); Wheeler, 1922Wheeler, W. M. 1922. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. New York: Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 1139. 133015: 51, 636 (diagnosis, tribes key); Morley, 1939Morley, B. D. W. 1939. The phylogeny of the Cerapachyinae, Dorylinae, and Leptanillinae (Hym. Formicidae). Bulletin de la Société Entomologique de France 44:114-118. [1939-05-27] 127460: 114 (phylogeny); Smith, 1947fSmith, M. R. 1947f. A generic and subgeneric synopsis of the United States ants, based on the workers. American Midland Naturalist 37:521-647. [1947-07-27] PDF 128808: 528 (U.S.A. diagnosis, genera); Brown, 1954eBrown, W. L., Jr. 1954e. Remarks on the internal phylogeny and subfamily classification of the family Formicidae. Insectes Sociaux 1:21-31. [1954-03] PDF 123108}: 26 (phylogeny, notes); Eisner, 1957Eisner, T. 1957. A comparative morphological study of the proventriculus of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 116:439-490. [1957-07] PDF 124480: 476 (proventriculus morphology); Gotwald, 1969: 43 (mouthparts morphology); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1972aWheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1972a. The subfamilies of Formicidae. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 74:35-45. [1972-03-28] PDF 129891: 37 (diagnosis); Kempf, 1972bKempf, W. W. 1972b. Catálogo abreviado das formigas da região Neotropical. Studia Entomologica 15:3-344. [1972-08-25] PDF 126357: 263 (Neotropical, synoptic classification); Brown, 1975Brown, W. L., Jr. 1975. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. V. Ponerinae, tribes Platythyreini, Cerapachyini, Cylindromyrmecini, Acanthostichini, and Aenictogitini. Search. Agriculture (Ithaca, New York) 5(1):1-115. [1975-06] PDF 123055}: 11 (revision of tribes and genera, diagnoses); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1976bWheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1976b. Ant larvae: review and synthesis. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Washington 7:1-108. [1976] PDF 129906: 46 (larvae, review & synthesis); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1985bWheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1985b. A simplified conspectus of the Formicidae. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 111:255-264. [1985-07-30] PDF 129918: 261 (diagnosis); Ogata, 1987aOgata, K. 1987a. A generic synopsis of the poneroid complex of the family Formicidae in Japan (Hymenoptera). Part 1. Subfamilies Ponerinae and Cerapachyinae. Esakia 25:97-132. [1987-01-31] PDF 127579: 129 (Japan genera); Bolton, 1990aBolton, B. 1990a. Abdominal characters and status of the cerapachyine ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Journal of Natural History 24:53-68. [1990-02-22] PDF 122851: 53 (abdominal morphology, diagnosis, synoptic classification, zoogeography); Bolton, 1990cBolton, B. 1990c. Army ants reassessed: the phylogeny and classification of the doryline section (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Journal of Natural History 24:1339-1364. [1990-10-19] PDF 122856: 1356 (diagnosis, morphology, phylogeny); Brandão, 1991Brandão, C. R. F. 1991. Adendos ao catálogo abreviado das formigas da região Neotropical (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 35:319-412. [1991-08-31] PDF 122994: 390 (Neotropical fauna, synoptic classification, genera); Baroni Urbani, Bolton & Ward, 1992Baroni Urbani, C.; Bolton, B.; Ward, P. S. 1992. The internal phylogeny of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Systematic Entomology 17:301-329. [1992-10] PDF 122513: 316 (phylogeny); Jaffe, 1993Jaffe, K. 1993. El mundo de las hormigas. Baruta, Venezuela: Equinoccio (Ediciones de la Universidad Simón Bolívar), 188 pp. [1993-07] 126108: 7 (Neotropical genera, synoptic classification); Lattke, in Jaffe, 1993Jaffe, K. 1993. El mundo de las hormigas. Baruta, Venezuela: Equinoccio (Ediciones de la Universidad Simón Bolívar), 188 pp. [1993-07] 126108: 165 (Neotropical genera); Bolton, 1994Bolton, B. 1994. Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 222 pp. [1994-07-25] 122834: 18 (diagnosis, synoptic classification, key to genera); Bolton, 1995aBolton, B. 1995a. A taxonomic and zoogeographical census of the extant ant taxa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of Natural History 29:1037-1056. [1995-08] PDF 122859: 1038 (census); Bolton, 1995bBolton, B. 1995b. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 504 pp. [1995-10] 122860: 10 (catalogue); Hölldobler, Obermayer & Peeters, 1996Hölldobler, B.; Obermayer, M.; Peeters, C. 1996. Comparative study of the metatibial gland in ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Zoomorphology (Berlin) 116:157-167. [1996-12-17] 131493}: 158 (metatibial gland); Perfil'eva, 2002: 1239 (venation); Palacio & Fernández, in {ref 133005}: 238 (Neotropical genera keys); Brady, 2003Brady, S. G. 2003. Evolution of the army ant syndrome: the origin and long-term evolutionary stasis of a complex of behavioral and reproductive adaptations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 100:6575-6579. [2003-05-27] PDF 130821: 6575 (phylogeny); Bolton, 2003Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and classification of Formicidae. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 71:1-370. [2003-11-10] PDF 130789: 32, 137 (diagnosis, synopsis); Brady & Ward, 2005Brady, S. G.; Ward, P. S. 2005. Morphological phylogeny of army ants and other dorylomorphs (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Systematic Entomology 30:593-618. [2005-10] PDF 130829: 593 (phylogeny); Moreau, Bell, et al. 2006: 102 (phylogeny); Brady, Schultz, et al. 2006: 18173 (phylogeny); Ward, 2007CWard, P. S. 2007C. Phylogeny, classification, and species-level taxonomy of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 1668:549-563. [2007-12-21] PDF 132572: 555 (classification); Keller, 2011Keller, R. A. 2011. A phylogenetic analysis of ant morphology (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with special reference to the poneromorph subfamilies. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 355:1-90. [2011-08-10] PDF 132879: 1 (morphology, phylogeny); General & Alpert, 2012General, D. M.; Alpert, G. D. 2012. A synoptic review of the ant genera (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of the Philippines. ZooKeys 200:1-111. [2012-06-05] PDF 133060: 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.

(-1 examples)

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