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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
{ref 124599}: 765 (diagnosis); {ref 130044}: 136 (diagnosis); {ref 124702}: 5 (tribes key); {ref 133015}: 51, 636 (diagnosis, tribes key); {ref 127460}: 114 (phylogeny); {ref 128808}: 528 (U.S.A. diagnosis, genera); {ref 123108}: 26 (phylogeny, notes); {ref 124480}: 476 (proventriculus morphology); {ref 140901}: 43 (mouthparts morphology); {ref 129891}: 37 (diagnosis); {ref 126357}: 263 (Neotropical, synoptic classification); {ref 123055}: 11 (revision of tribes and genera, diagnoses); {ref 129906}: 46 (larvae, review & synthesis); {ref 129918}: 261 (diagnosis); {ref 127579}: 129 (Japan genera); {ref 122851}: 53 (abdominal morphology, diagnosis, synoptic classification, zoogeography); {ref 122856}: 1356 (diagnosis, morphology, phylogeny); {ref 122994}: 390 (Neotropical fauna, synoptic classification, genera); {ref 122513}: 316 (phylogeny); {ref 126108}: 7 (Neotropical genera, synoptic classification); Lattke, in {ref 126108}: 165 (Neotropical genera); {ref 122834}: 18 (diagnosis, synoptic classification, key to genera); {ref 122859}: 1038 (census); {ref 122860}: 10 (catalogue); {ref 131493}: 158 (metatibial gland); {ref 141009}: 1239 (venation); Palacio & Fernández, in {ref 133005}: 238 (Neotropical genera keys); {ref 130821}: 6575 (phylogeny); {ref 130789}: 32, 137 (diagnosis, synopsis); {ref 130829}: 593 (phylogeny); {ref 140914}: 102 (phylogeny); {ref 140913}: 18173 (phylogeny); {ref 132572}: 555 (classification); {ref 132879}: 1 (morphology, phylogeny); {ref 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.

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