Current View: Bolton World Catalog
Change View
Cite this page

Citing AntWeb


To cite this page, please use the following:

· For print: . Accessed

· For web:

Genus: Aenictogiton   Emery, 1901 


Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2019)


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Africa: Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
  Native biogeographic regions (according to species list records):

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Treatment Citation: Brown, W. L., 1975, Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. V. Ponerinae, tribes Platythyreini, Cerapachyini, Cylindromyrmecini, Acanthostichini, and Aenictogitini., Search: Agriculture; Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station 15, pp. 1-115


> AenictogitonHNS Emery, 1901, Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 33: 49 - 51, fig. 3, 4, [[ male ]]. Type: Aenictogiton fossiceps EmeryHNS, monobasic.

> Aenictogiton: Emery, 1910, DorylinaeHNS, Gen. Insectorum 102: 27 - 28, pl., fig. 5, 5 b, male. ----- Forel, 1913 f: 314 - 315, 2 n. spp. described from [[ male ]] [[ male ]]. ----- Santschi, 1924, Rev. Zool. Afr. 12: 198 - 200, fig. 2; 1 n. sp. described from [[ male ]], taxonomic notes and key to spp. based on [[ male ]] [[ male ]].

> Aenictogeton Santschi, 1919, Rev. Zool. Afr. 6: 246 - 248, fig. 2 a, b, c; 2 n. spp. and 1 n. var. described from [[ male ]] [[ male ]] (variant spelling).

Male: Long (TL 5 - 9 mm), slender insect with hypognathous head and long, subcylindrical, downcurved gaster; prevailingly smooth and shining, with some punctate areas; color basically tawny yellow (testaceous to yellow ferruginous).

Head somewhat depressed dorsoventrally; as seen fullface oblong, longer than broad without the huge compound eyes, but broader than long if the eyes are included; posterior angles sharply rounded, posterior margin concave, and sides straight or weakly convex, parallel or weakly converging or diverging posteriad. Compound eyes very large and bulging, their anterior margins reaching the mandibular insertions, occupying half or more of the sides of the head; inner margins convex; surfaces beset with short, fine, erect hairs. Front of head between eyes deeply concave; clypeus indistinguishably fused with cranium; antennal sockets close together, contiguous to anterior margin of head, which is essentially straight (more or less feebly sinuate), or concave and transverse. Frontal carinae completely fused and reduced to an inconspicuous carina that extends posteriad only a short distance between the antennal sockets before disappearing. Ocelli very large and prominent, set in partial sockets; immediately behind them is a deep and wide pit that is peculiar to AenictogitonHNS. Mandibles wide falciform, inserted far apart, tapering and curving evenly inward to acute apices that overlap at full closure, leaving a wide space between the more basal parts of the shafts; inner margins toothless and cultrate. Antennae 13 - merous, rather small and weak for insects of this size; scapes short, incrassate towards their apical halves, about equal to the combined first 5 funicular segments in length, but not reaching much beyond the midlength of the compound eyes when laid back. All funicular segments longer than broad except possibly IV-VII, one or more of which may be as broad as, or slightly broader than, long; pedicel clavate, nearly as long as the next 2 (II and III) funicular segments combined; funiculus distinctly incrassate in its apical 2 / 3; apical segment longest, but somewhat compressed in dry specimens.

Trunk elongate (2.3 - 2.6 times longer than wide), especially the pronotum and scutum; the latter takes up much more than half the truncal length. Notauli lacking; long, fine parapsidal furrows present but inconspicuous; in dried specimens, the scutum is usually partly buckled, so that an elongate concave area appears on either side of the dorsal midline. Scutellum simple, convex; metanotum forming a narrow transverse belt; propodeum rounded in both directions (fig. 138). Sides of pronotum and lower posterior half of trunk with broad and fairly deep hollows or sulci, which may be partly due to collapse of the thin integument. Since these hollows are present and similar in 8 specimens belonging to at least 2 species, I assume that they are spaces to accommodate the upfolded legs when the insect is being carried by workers or is feigning death. The pleura are unbroken by long sutures of any kind, except for the complete and strongly oblique one between the pronotum and sides of the mesothorax. Propodeal spiracle small and inconspicuous, situated below mid-height of the trunk; metapleural gland bulla and meatus apparently absent, or at least not visible from ordinary external views.

Wings long and broad, the forewing about as long as the body (minus the head), or longer, with primitive ponerine venation (fig. 137), except for the following: Rsf 2.3 detached at base from Rs + M; rarely Rsf 2.3 is curved posteriad and weakly attached to Mf 3, but usually its base is floating free as in fig. 137. Mf 1, though rather strongly oblique, originates well distad of cu-a. Pterostigma large, thick, and heavily pigmented. In the hindwing the anal lobe is lacking, and, although Rs and M are both usually present, r-m is completely absent. Hamuli inconspicuous, 8 - 12 (8 specimens examined). Occasionally stubby adventitious veins are found in the forewing, usually issuing posteriad from longitudinal veins. Crossvein cu-a is sometimes weak or absent in the hind wing.

Legs moderate in length; middle and hind coxae very deeply sulcate dorsally, and sharp genual edges are formed on either side of the cleft. Femora laterally compressed but broadened in the extensor-flexor plane, narrowing basad; their flexor edges with a variably extensive apical groove to receive the folded tibia. Tibiae subclavate, broadest in the distal half, the middle and hind pairs all bearing a narrowly pectinate spur and usually a smaller setiform spur. Tarsal segments slender; claws slender, simple.

Petiole (fig. 138) special in shape, depressed, subtrapezoidal, longer than wide to wider than long according to species, with concave anterior margin and slightly produced anterior corners; broadest behind and with prominent, often subacute posterior corners; dorsal face convex in front, but with a broad, shallow median sulcus crossing the summit from the front and widening behind to produce a deep subtriangular excavation that occupies much of the posterior half of the surface. From side view, the petiole is convex above, highest in the anterior half, with rounded front and rear corners; sides rounded and bulging; subpetiolar process a laterally compressed keel with curved outline, steep in front and tapering caudad.

Postpetiole incorporated with gaster, and not separated from gaster by any constriction. As seen from above, the postpetiole tapers anteriad and is narrowly rounded in front (the narrowly rounded tergal portion overhangs the sternum in front). Remaining gastric segments (true abdominal somites IV through VII) cylindrical, slightly wider than long, subequal among themselves. Postpetiolar tergum and sternum solidly fused; in succeeding segments, terga and sterna are unfused and readily separable. Pygidium (tergum VIII) rounded but not enlarged, with an apical rim (fig. 139); hypopygium forming a robust, slightly upcurved fork with acute, convex-sided prongs and a short, constricted, stalk-like base (fig. 84). Genital capsule partly retractile, with large, expanded, shell-like parameres (fig. 139), a similunar, non-serrate aedeagus (figs. 85, 139), and small volsella-lacinia differing in shape with the species.

Pilosity consisting of 3 types of hairs: (1) long, fine, flexuous, golden hairs bunched in tufts or rows on mandibles, clypeal margin, scapes, front half of dorsal surface of head and underside of head, along posterodorsal and posterolateral margins of pronotum, along posterior margin of scutum, on sides of mesothorax, on scutellum, on sides of propodeum and posterior corners of petiole (fig. 138), on underside of petiole and subpetiolar process, on femora, tibiae, and hind coxae, and on apex of gaster and terminalia (fig. 139); (2) short to long, appressed to decumbent, straight or slightly curved, golden hairs investing gaster like a coarse pubescence; (3) very short, fine, curved, erect to suberect hairs forming a sparse but rather even cover on upper (posterior) part of head, outer margins of mandibles, scutal surface, coxae, propodeal dorsum, petiolar disc, tarsae, and antennal funiculi.

Bionomics: To my knowledge, the only material of AenictogitonHNS found in collections consists of winged males taken at light. At least some of these samples were taken in or near forest or gallery forest, but I do not know the setting of many of the label localities. The habitus of these males certainly is generally like that of some army ants, though they are somewhat smaller than most army ant males. The tufts and fringes of long, golden hairs suggest the similar arrangements (" trichomes, " etc.) in many army ant males and in formicid and other insect inquilines in ant nests, and lead naturally to speculation that these males may be adapted towards gaining entrance to colonies of their own or another host species by attracting and offering the host workers allomones that convert or lull their aggressive behavior toward strangers. The army ant males must gain access to alien conspecific colonies to mate with their queens. But the inquiline males must achieve acceptance into the host species' colony in order to work their parasitic mischief.

To me, AenictogitonHNS males have a habitus much like that of the known army ants of the same caste. It is not beyond belief that they could be parasites, but then one would expect to find winged or dealate queens that corresponded to them, and no such queens have been seen. In fact, the lack of queens in collections suggests that they may be wingless and ergatoid or dichthadiiform, as in army ants. The males of AenictogitonHNS lack metapleural gland openings, as do army ant males of all genera, and also some parasitic ant groups. It was my hypothesis (Brown, 1968, Amer. Naturalist 102: 188 ff) that the metapleural glands secrete a nest odor, or at any rate an " alien nest " odor, but Maschwitz, Koob, and Schildknecht (1970, J. Insect Physiol. 16: 387 ff.) think instead that the gland puts out a substance aimed primarily at reducing microorganismal contamination. If this were true, then the absence of the gland in army ant males and some inquilinous ants could be accounted for by assuming that in these cases, the workers perform the antiseptic lavage. This question still needs investigation.

Distribution: All of the types of the described species came from Zaire, formerly Belgian Congo. Now I have seen additional material from northern Angola, Zambia, and even from Gabon (Makokou), as well as more samples from Zaire. It does seem as though the distribution of the genus centers on the Congo Basin, and does not extend very far beyond. A number of the records, however, come from localities at elevations of 1000 to 1500 meters, though many are from lower country.

See something amiss? Send us an email.
Enlarge Map