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Species: Cardiocondyla emeryi   Forel, 1881 

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See Also:

Cardiocondyla emeryi chlorotica, Cardiocondyla emeryi fezzanensis, Cardiocondyla emeryi mahdii, Cardiocondyla emeryi nitida, Cardiocondyla emeryi rasalamae, Cardiocondyla emeryi schatzmayri

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2015)

1 subspecies

Cardiocondyla emeryi Forel, 1881: 5 (w.) VIRGIN IS. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki

Taxonomic history

André, 1881c PDF: 69 (m.); Forel, 1904g PDF: 422 (q.); Emery, 1909a PDF: 26 (m. ergatoid m., not q.); Arnold, 1916 PDF: 201 (q.).
Senior synonym of Cardiocondyla nereis: Wilson & Taylor, 1967b PDF: 53; of Cardiocondyla monilicornis: Baroni Urbani, 1973a PDF: 200; of Cardiocondyla mahdii, Cardiocondyla mauritia, Cardiocondyla rasalamae: Bolton, 1982 PDF}: 312.
Current subspecies: nominal plus Cardiocondyla emeryi fezzanensis.


Cardiocondyla emeryi is an accomplished tramp species that originated in Africa and has since spread across the globe’s tropical and subtropical regions (Seifert, 2003). The species is very small and difficult to distinguish from its trampy congeners, and occurs in both light and dark morphs (Seifert, 2003). Cardiocondyla emeryi is among the few introduced ant species for which a moderate amount of natural history information is known that is not also a significant pest. It is omnivorous, polygynous, ground-nesting species capable of dispersing by colony budding, and it lives in small colonies (Creighton & Snelling, 1974; Heinze et al., 2006; King & Porter, 2007; Seifert, 2003). The strategies of Cardiocondyla species as successful tramp species is reviewed by Heinze (2006).


Native range: Africa.

Current range includes. Mauritius, Madeira, Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, St. Helena, Morocco, Israel, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Madagascar, Seychelles, Chagos Island, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Hawaii, entire Caribbean, Florida, Brazil, Fiji, Samoa, Costa Rica.

Intercept records: New Zealand (Ward, 2007); USA (USNM specimens).

In Fiji: Koro: Mt. Kuitarua 500. Moala: Naroi 75. Viti Levu: McDonalds Resort 10 b, Suva 10.


The biology of a free and laboratory colony of Cardiocondyla emeryi introduced in Texas was chronicled in detail by Creighton (Creighton & Snelling, 1974). The observed colony’s nest was a tiny, circular opening about one millimeter in diameter in soil. He reported the species as being omnivorous, equally likely to take nectar as protein, and proposed that the species probably hunts small, soft-bodied insects and scavenges larger ones. Workers of aggressive superior species such as Pheidole dentata, Solenopsis geminata, and Linepithema humile were observed to shrink back when encountering foragers of C. emeryi, which suggested to Creighton the emission of effective repellents.  The species was observed forage singly or in tandem pairs, but always with frequent stops and in erratic directions. (In Fiji, however, the species was observed to form relatively strong recruitment trails (Sarnat & Economo, In Press), as evidenced by the large number of workers videotaped at a bait (2008b)). The developmental periods of the captive colony were observed as follows: Egg to larva 12 days, larva to pupa 27 days, pupa to adult 16 days, egg to adult 55 days.

Seifert (2003)attributed the unusual success of Cardiocondyla species establishing outside their native range by the very small space needed for nest construction, the expressed polygyny in several species, a sufficient survival rate after shortage of water, and in particular the fact that, in some species, a dozen of detached workers with brood can establish a fully reproductive new colony containing all castes.

In the United States, C. emeryi is known from Texas (Creighton & Snelling, 1974), Florida (Deyrup, 1991;2003; Deyrup et al., 2000), and Hawaii (Krushelnycky et al., 2005). In Hawaii the species is reported to occur in low density, polygynous colonies in lowland communities, and is not believed to have a large impact on the native invertebrate community (Reimer, 1994).

Natural History in Costa Rica (Jack Longino)These are ants of open areas and synanthropic habitats that can be expected in any low to midelevation urban area in Costa Rica. I have found workers foraging on the ground in the town squares of La Cruz and Liberia in Guanacaste Province. I have collected workers while sweeping low vegetation along the dusty roadside near La Pita, on the road from the PanAmerican Highway to Monteverde. On the Atlantic side of Costa Rica, I collected workers on the beach margin beneath coconut palms near Puerto Viejo de Limon.


The genus was revised on a global scale by Seifert (2003), who noted that the cosmopolitan population of C. emeryi shows extreme polymorphism in microsculpture clearly exceeding the usual intraspecific variability known for Cardiocondyla, and that two color forms can be distinguished as follows. Light form: lateral area of mesosoma, waist, and appendages yellowish; scutellum, gaster, and antennal club dark brown; remaining body parts yellowish brown. Dark form: whole body dark brown; coxae, femora, tibiae, scape, base of funiculus, and ventrolateral area of pronotum yellowish.

Among introduced Cardiocondyla species, C. emeryi (together with C. obscurior and C. wroughtonii) is differentiated by (1) a distinctly impressed metanotal groove, (2) relatively long propodeal spines, and (3) a postpetiole that is as high as the petiole and possessing a distinct ventral bulge. It is distinguished from C. obscurior and C. wroughtonii by the postpetiole, which in dorsal view has gently rounded (versus sharply angled in C. obscurior and C. wroughtonii) anterolateral corners. 

Diagnosis among workers of introduced and commonly intercepted ants in the United States. Worker caste monomorphic. Head shape subrectangular. Antenna 12-segmented. Antennal club 3-segmented. Antennal scapes easily extended beyond eye level but scapes do not extend beyond posterior margin of head. Antennal scrobe lacking. Antennal insertion not surrounded by a raised sharp-edged ridge. Eyes greater than 5 facets; not unusually large (distinctly less than half head length). Posterolateral corners of head unarmed, without spines. Mandibles triangular. Mesosoma lacking erect hairs. Metanotal groove distinctly impressed.  Pronotal spines absent. Propodeal spines relatively long. Slope of mesosoma gradual. Waist 2-segmented. Petiole with a distinct and upright node; lacking large subpetiolar process. Petiole with peduncle. Postpetiole appearing swollen, in dorsal view wider than long and much broader than petiole; attached to lower surface of gaster. Postpetiole as high as petiole and with a distinct ventral bulge, postpetiole in dorsal view with gently rounded anterolateral corners. Color of gaster often darker than the rest of body.


Caste of types: (m)


Creighton, W.S. & Snelling, R.R. (1974) Notes on the behavior of three species of Cardiocondyla in the United States (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc., 82, 82-92.

Deyrup, M. (1991) Exotic ants of the Florida keys (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). In: Eshbaugh, W.H. (Ed.) Proceedings of the 4th symposium on the natural history of the Bahamas. Bahamian Field Station, San Salvador, Bahamas, pp. 15-22.

Deyrup, M. (2003) An updated list of Florida ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Florida Entomol., 86, 43-48.

Deyrup, M., Davis, L. & Cover, S. (2000) Exotic ants in Florida. Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc., 126, 293-326.

Heinze, J., Cremer, S., Eckl, N. & Schrempf, A. (2006) Stealthy invaders: the biology of Cardiocondyla tramp ants. Insect. Soc., 53, 1-7.

Heinze, J. & Trenkle, S. (1997) Male polymorphism and gynandromorphs in the ant Cardiocondyla emeryi. Naturwissenschaften, 84, 129-131.

King, J.R. & Porter, S.D. (2007) Body size, colony size, abundance, and ecological impact of exotic ants in Florida's upland ecosystems. Evol. Ecol. Res., 9, 757-774.

Reimer, N.J. (1994) Distribution and impact of alien ants in vulnerable Hawaiian ecosystems. In: Williams, D.F. (Ed.) Exotic ants. Biology, impact, and control of introduced species. Westview Press, Boulder.  xvii + 332 p., pp. 11-22.

Sarnat, E.M. & Economo, E.P. (In Press) Ants of Fiji. University of California Publications in Entomology.

Seifert, B. 2003. The ant genus Cardiocondyla (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae): A taxonomic revision of the C. elegans, C. bulgarica, C. batesii, C. nuda, C. shuckardi, C. stambuloffii, C. wroughtonii, C. emeryi, and C. minutior species groups. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien Serie B Botanik und Zoologie 104B:203-338.

Taxon Page Author History

On 2012-06-14 09:17:18 Eli Sarnat modified Biology
On 2012-06-14 09:15:26 Eli Sarnat modified References
On 2012-06-14 09:09:13 Eli Sarnat modified Distribution

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Forel, A., 1912:
[[ male ]], aile. Correspond bien a la description d'Andre, mais les taches foncees de la tete et du thorax sont a peine brunatres.
Seychelles: Mahe, Anonyme Island.
Le [[ male ]] de Madere recolte par M. Schmitz dans le temps est au contraire entierement d'un brun noiratre; du reste identique.
[[ queen ]]. L. 2 mill. D'un brun roussatre ou d'un roux brunatre plus fonce que chez l'ouvriere. Ailes hyalines. Pattes d'un testace clair. Tete, thorax et pedicule bien plus mats et plus fortement sculptes que chez l'ouvriere; n oe uds plus larges. Correspond du reste bien a l'ouvriere de Madagascar.
Seychelles: Silhouette, 1500 pieds; Mahe, 1000 pieds. Peut-etre est-ce simplement une variete foncee de Y emeryi et pas la vraie rasalamae .
Seychelles: Mahe et Silhouette, 1000 a 2000 pieds.

Espadaler, X., 2007:
(*) (37, w; 41, w). This widespread tramp species was detected only at two seaside small towns, on poorly attended gardens.

Wheeler, W. M., 1922:
A single worker taken at Thysville by Bequaert. This minute ant is very widely distributed through the tropics of both hemispheres. It was originally described from the island of St. Thomas in the West Indies, but was later recorded from Syria, Madeira, Madagascar, and the East Indies. Arnold records it from South Africa and my collection contains specimens from the Bahamas, Cuba, Porto Rico, Jamaica, Bermuda, Tepic in Western Mexico, and Miami, Florida. According to Arnold it "is usually found nesting in grassy soil; the entrance to the nest is a minute hole, not surrounded by earth or other substances."

Emery, C., 1894:
Les exemplaires des Sechelles sont intermediaires pour la couleur entre le type de l'espece et la variete Rasoherinae Forel, de Madagascar.

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 22 times found in urban/garden, 9 times found in Uapaca woodland, 12 times found in tropical forest, 15 times found in tropical dry forest, 14 times found in rainforest, 14 times found in gallery forest, 11 times found in dry forest, 8 times found in grassland, 5 times found in spiny forest/thicket, 3 times found in gallery forest, degraded, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods or in the following microhabitats: 81 times Malaise trap, 67 times Malaise, 7 times MW 20 sample transect, 5m, 8 times Malaise trap, 1 trap, 1 times 10 Maxiwinks, 6 times Search, 10 times ER28 Malaise trap, 2 times sweeping, 1 times pitfall trap, PF 25 cup sample transect, 10m, 2 times 10 MaxiWinks, mixed samples, 6 times Winkler, ...

Elevations: collected from 5 - 1980 meters, 524 meters average

Type specimens: Holotype: casent0102942; syntype of Cardiocondyla emeryi mahdii: casent0908342; type of Cardiocondyla emeryi: casent0901745

(-1 examples)

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