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Species: Tapinoma melanocephalum   (Fabricius, 1793) 

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See Also:

Tapinoma melanocephalum_cf, Tapinoma melanocephalum australe, Tapinoma melanocephalum australis, Tapinoma melanocephalum coronatum, Tapinoma melanocephalum malesianum

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2015)

2 subspecies

Formica melanocephala Fabricius, 1793 PDF: 353 (w.) FRENCH GUIANA. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki

Taxonomic history

Emery, 1887a PDF: 249 (m.); Forel, 1891c PDF: 102 (q.); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1951 PDF: 197 (l.); Crozier, 1970a PDF: 119 (k.).
Combination in Micromyrma: Roger, 1862b PDF: 258; in Tapinoma: Mayr, 1862 PDF: 651; in Tapinoma (Micromyrma): Santschi, 1928e PDF: 475.
Senior synonym of Tapinoma pellucida: Mayr, 1886c PDF: 359; of Tapinoma nana: Emery, 1892c PDF: 166; of Tapinoma familiaris: Forel, 1899B: 101; of Tapinoma australis: Wilson & Taylor, 1967b PDF: 80; of Tapinoma australe: Bolton, 1995b: 401.
See also: Smith, 1979: 1421; Shattuck, 1994 PDF: 148.


One record from Wallonia, only indoors


Natural History:

This is a widespread tropical tramp species, introduced throughout the world. Its native range is unknown. It is ubiquitous in non-airconditioned dwellings anywhere in the lowland tropics. Regardless of whether you are in Guinea, New Guinea, or Guyana, if you are sitting at a table with a sugar dispenser you are likely to see workers of T. melanocephalum running about on the surface. They always seem to be able to find their way into the sugar container, and sugar on tropical tables always contains some non-negligible fraction of T. melanocephalum workers. When you put a spoonful of sugar in your drink, you can judge the level of contamination by how many workers are left floating on the surface.

In quantitative biodiversity surveys, this species often has to be excluded from data analysis because the laboratory where samples are processed contains T. melanocephalum as a pest, and contamination of samples occurs.

Although most often found in houses, they can also move out into surrounding vegetation in highly disturbed and highly insolated habitats, opportunistically nesting in small plant cavities. Nests readily relocate, and overnight they can move into a shoe or an umbrella left on a porch.


Introduced species


(Dutch vernacular name: spookdraaigatje)

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Forel, A., 1893:
(No. 16 a). [[ worker ]] et [[ queen ]]. Espece cosmopolite des tropiques.
(16). Common about houses at Kingstown, and at Georgetown. Its white abdomen and quick, jerky walk give it a very peculiar appearance. The formicarium is small, consisting apparently of a single chamber, in a cavity of a wall, or under a stone. There may be fifty or more workers in the colony.
(16 a). Near Kingstown; shady place on a hill-side near sea-level. Small nest in rubbish lodged between two stones.
(Found also at Georgetown, on the windward coast).

Emery, C., 1893:
- Colombo.

Forel, A., 1912:
[[ worker ]] [[ queen ]]. Seychelles: Silhouette, Mare aux Cochons, 1000 pieds.

Espadaler, X., 2007:
(*) (41, w). Running workers were detected in irrigated gardens next to recently built bungalows. This is the first record for El Hierro of this well known tramp species.

Ward, P. S., 2005:
I [introduced species]

Forel, A., 1895:
- Cosmopolite.

Wild, A. L., 2007:
Central, Concepción (ALWC, INBP). [* = species not native to Paraguay]

Forel, A., 1908:
[[ worker ]] L. 1,5 a 1,8 mill. Tres semblable au melanocephalum F. et a l´ indicum Forel, mais il en differe comme suit: Mandibules a bord terminal court, arme de 6 a 7 dents. Les scapes depassent fortement le bord occipital, au moins autant que chez le melanocephalum (chez l´ indicum ils ne le depassent pas). Les palpes sont assez courts et ne sont pas dilates (longs et dilates chez le melanocephalum ). Le thorax n'a aucune echancrure; son dos est continu (un peu echancre chez le melanocephalum ). La face declive est tronquee net, obliquement, comme chez le melanocephalum ; bord anterieur de l'epistome entier, ou peu s'en faut. Tete et thorax subopaques, moins luisants que chez le melanocephalum .
Tete (sauf les antennes et les mandibules), metathorax, parfois le pronotum, cotes du thorax, une tache au bord de chaque segment abdominal et le pygidium bruns (la tete d'un brun fonce). Tout le reste d'un jaune pale.
Puntarenas, cote Pacifique de Costa Bica (Biolley), Jamaique (moi-meme), etc.
La place de cette variete est un peu douteuse. Je la rattache provisoirement au melanocephalum .

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 35 times found in urban/garden, 52 times found in mature wet forest, 35 times found in coastal scrub, 25 times found in rainforest, 13 times found in urban garden, 10 times found in secondary thicket and diverse vegetation, 19 times found in dry forest, 18 times found in disturbed forest, 8 times found in tropical dry forest, 11 times found in secondary forest, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods or in the following microhabitats: 70 times MiniWinkler, 6 times hand collection, 14 times Berlese, 9 times search, 6 times beating low vegetation, 5 times Winkler, 2 times davis-sifting; incidental aspirated, 3 times 9 MaxiWinks, mixed samples, 4 times flight intercept trap, 1 times at baited pitfall, 4 times pan trap, ...

Elevations: collected from 1 - 2000 meters, 164 meters average

Type specimens: syntype of Myrmica pellucida: casent0901925; syntype of Myrmica pellucida: casent0903062; syntype of Tapinoma melanocephalum australe: casent0911572; syntype of Tapinoma melanocephalum australe: casent0903063

(-1 examples)

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