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Species: Anoplolepis gracilipes   (Smith, 1857) 

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Current Valid Name:

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2023)

Formica gracilipes Smith, 1857a PDF: 55 (w.) SINGAPORE. Indomalaya. Primary type information: Primary type material: 2 syntype workers. Primary type locality: Singapore: “Sing. 30” (A.R. Wallace). Primary type depository: OXUM. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Replacement name for Anoplolepis longipes (Jerdon, 1851). [Junior primary homonym of Pheidole longipes (Latreille, 1802).]
[Note: Anoplolepis gracilipes (Smith, 1857) junior synonym of Anoplolepis longipes (Jerdon, 1851) (synonymy by Emery, 1887a PDF: 247, etc.); hence Anoplolepis gracilipes (Smith, 1857) first available replacement name for Anoplolepis longipes (Jerdon, 1851) (Bolton, 1995b: 67).]
Mayr, 1867a PDF: 73 (q.).
Combination in Prenolepis: Mayr, 1862 PDF: 698.
Combination in Plagiolepis: Mayr, 1867a PDF: 73.
Combination in Anoplolepis: Bolton, 1995b: 67.
Status as species: Smith, 1858a PDF: 22; Smith, 1859a PDF: 136; Smith, 1860a PDF: 68; Mayr, 1862 PDF: 698; Roger, 1863b PDF: 10; Mayr, 1863a PDF: 451; Mayr, 1865 PDF: 50; Mayr, 1867a PDF: 73 (redescription); Smith, 1871a PDF: 305; Mayr, 1872 PDF: 144; Mayr, 1876 PDF: 78; Emery, 1883 PDF: 147; Rothney, 1889 PDF: 373; Mayr, 1893b PDF: 197; Bolton, 1995b: 67; Zhou, 2001a PDF: 174; Wetterer, 2002 PDF: 129; Blard et al., 2003 PDF: 129; Bolton, 2003 PDF: 267; Imai et al., 2003 PDF: 82; Wetterer & Vargo, 2003 PDF: 417; Jaitrong & Nabhitabhata, 2005 PDF: 13; Wetterer, 2005 PDF: 77; Wetterer, 2006 PDF: 415; Don, 2007: 201; Clouse, 2007b PDF: 223; Framenau & Thomas, 2008 PDF: 61; Terayama, 2009 PDF: 206; Mohanraj et al., 2010 PDF: 6; Collingwood et al., 2011 PDF: 448; Pfeiffer et al., 2011 PDF: 36; Ran & Zhou, 2011: 66; Borowiec & Salata, 2012 PDF: 463; Guénard & Dunn, 2012 PDF: 27; Sarnat & Economo, 2012 PDF: 43; Sarnat et al., 2013 PDF: 69; Borowiec, 2014 PDF: 8; Ramage, 2014 PDF: 156; Bharti et al., 2016 PDF: 23; Jaitrong et al., 2016 PDF: 26; Dias et al., 2020 10.3897/zookeys.967.54432 PDF: 29; Khachonpisitsak et al., 2020 10.3897/zookeys.998.54902 PDF: 39; Wang et al., 2022 10.20362/am.015006 PDF: 35; Borowiec & Salata, 2022 PDF: 56 (redescription).
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Africa: Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles
    Americas: Chile, Mexico, United States
    Asia: Bangladesh, Borneo, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Krakatau Islands, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nicobar Island, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen
    Europe: Greece, United Kingdom
    Oceania: Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Australasia, Indomalaya, Malagasy, Nearctic, Neotropical, Oceania, Palearctic
  Native to (according to species list records):
    Indomalaya bioregion

Distribution Notes:

Global (Wetterer 2005): In tropical Asia and tropical islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, A. gracilipes occurs throughout the moist lowlands, but is not commonly found in arid regions and sites above 1200 m elevation. In tropical Africa, it is known only from Dar es Salaam and nearby Zanzibar. In tropical Australia, A. gracilipes has been recorded primarily from moist monsoon rainforests along perennial springs and streams in the northern region and in a few towns on the north and east coasts. In the Neotropics, there are records of A. gracilipes from western Mexico. In subtropical Asia, A. gracilipes ranges up to 26-27N in northern India, southern China, and southern islands of Japan. I found only six records from latitudes >27, two from exterminated urban populations (Auckland, New Zealand; Brisbane, Australia) and three from probably temporary populations (Valparaso, Chile; Durban, South Africa; Zayul, Tibet). The sixth population, on Amami-Oshima Island, Japan, may or may not be temporary. Anoplolepis gracilipes is not yet known from many moist lowland tropical areas where it would probably thrive, including west-central Africa and much of the Neotropics. Populations in western Mexico are prevented from expanding eastward by a central mountain range, but may be able to spread south, around the mountains, to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Records from arid Baja California, Mexico indicate that A. gracilipes can invade and persist in areas with arid climates, perhaps due to moderating effects of irrigation.

Fiji (Sarnat & Economo, in prep): Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Kadavu, Gau, Koro, Moala, Lakeba, Beqa, Yasawa Is., Macuata Is., Nanui-i-Ra I.

Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii


According to the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group A. gracilipes is among the 100 most pervasive and destructive invasive species in the world (Lowe, et al., 2000), and is most notably implicated in the 'ecological meltdown' of Christmas Island (O'Dowd, et al., 2001;2003). Introduced populations of Anoplolepis gracilipes can exhibit unicolonial behavior by forming multiple, populous high-density supercolonies. On Christmas Island, A. gracilipes was recorded to achieve the highest density of foraging ants ever recorded (Abbott, 2005). Colonies are polydomous and polygynous and disperse by budding. Nests occasionally hosting hundreds of queens and thousands of workers. The species has generalized foraging and nesting habits, and often achieve high densities in agricultural landscapes. Part of the species invasion success has been attributed to its strong mutualisms with nectar and honeydew producing insects like scales and aphids.


Anoplolepis gracilipes is a large, slender, brownish yellow species most easily identified by it extraordinarily long limbs. The antennal scapes are greater than 1.5x the head length, and the full antennae are longer than the entire body from the apical tip of the mandibles to the distal tip of the gaster. The head is ovoid and distinctly longer than broad. The antennae are 11-segmented and the mandibles have 8 teeth. The eyes are large and bulge well beyond the outline of the head in full face view. The mesosoma is long and slender. The pronotum in particular, is extended anteriorly giving the appearance of a long 'neck'. The mesonotal dorsum slopes downward towards the propodeum. The propodeum is gently rounded and convex, with approximately equal posterior and dorsal faces. The petiolar node is thick and upright with a longer posterior face than anterior face. The gaster is armed with an acidopore and tends to be darker than the rest of the body.

Among introduced ants, Anoplolepis gracilipes might be mistaken for Paratrechina longicornis (the Black Crazy Ant), which also has very long antennae and legs and eyes that break the outline of the head in full face view. In addition to the difference in color, A. gracilipes can also be distinguished by the lack of erect hairs on the mesosoma, petiole and gaster. Anoplolepis gracilipes can also be mistaken for species of Leptomyrmex and Oecophylla because of their similar sizes and very long limbs. Anoplolepis can be distinguished from Leptomyrmex by the presence of an acidopore. Anoplolepis can be distinguished from Oecophylla by the more compact petiole.

Diagnosis among introduced and commonly intercepted ants.
Antenna 11-segmented. Antennal club indistinct. Antennal scape length greater than 1.5x head length. Eyes large; break outline of head. Antennal sockets and posterior clypeal margin separated by a distance equal to or greater than the minimum width of antennal  scape. Dorsum of mesosoma with metanotal impression, but never with a deep and broad concavity. Metapleuron with a distinct gland orifice. Propodeum and petiolar node both lacking a pair of short teeth. Propodeum lacking posteriorly projecting protrusion. Propodeal declivity less than twice length of propodeal dorsum. Waist 1-segmented. Petiole upright and not appearing flattened. Gaster armed with acidopore. Distinct constriction not visible between abdominal segments 3+4. Hairs not long thick and produced in pairs. Yellowish-brown to reddish-brown. Monomorphic.

Male identification among New World Formicinae
Antenna 12-merous; mandible with 8-9 denticles, with one or two offset denticles on basal margin; maxillary palps longer than maximum compound eye length; scape more than twice head length; compound eyes situated at about head midlength.


Abbott, K.L. (2005) Supercolonies of the invasive yellow crazy ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes, on an oceanic island: Forager activity patterns, density and biomass. Insect. Soc., 52, 266-273.

Lowe, S., Browne, M., Boudjelas, S. & De Poorter, M. (2000) 100 of the world's worst invasive species. Aliens, 12, s1-s12.

O'Dowd, D.J., Green, P.T. & Lake, P.S. (2001) Invasional meltdown in island rainforest. In: Ganeshaiah, K.N., Shaanker, R.U. & Bawa, K.S. (Eds.) Tropical ecosystems. Structure, diversity and human welfare. Oxford and IBH, New Delhi, pp. 447-450.

O'Dowd, D.J., Green, P.T. & Lake, P.S. (2003) Invasional 'meltdown' on an oceanic island. Ecol. Lett., 6, 812-817.

Wetterer, J.K. (2005) Worldwide distribution and potential spread of the long-legged ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology, 45, 77-97.

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 13 times found in Rainforest, 2 times found in sugar cane field, 3 times found in port of entry/city, 5 times found in forest, 6 times found in degraded dry forest, 6 times found in primary rainforest, 9 times found in Secondary forest, 4 times found in palm forest, 7 times found in coastal forest, 6 times found in coastal scrub, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 88 times malaise trap, 16 times ground forager(s), 2 times under stone, 3 times sifted litter (leaf mold, rotten wood), 9 times sifted litter, 2 times recruiting to bait, 7 times on low vegetation, 7 times litter sample, 4 times ex rotten log, 1 times nesting in tree, 1 times clay mud mound at base of tree next to lake, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 103 times M, 27 times pan traps, 23 times Malaise trap, 18 times Davis sifting>hand collected|aspirator, 2 times 2 Maxi Winks, 6 times H, 4 times sweeping, 15 times Malaise traps, 14 times hand collected|aspirator, 9 times L, 12 times hand collected|aspirator>bait trap|peanut butter, ...

Elevations: collected from 1 - 1220 meters, 203 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1916-01-01 00:00:00.0 and 2022-08-07 00:00:00.0

Type specimens: holotype: anic32-017722; Not Provided: fba521419, casent0171031, casent0177676, casent0180545, casent0180551, casent0180553, casent0180554, casent0180559, casent0180560, casent0180563, casent0180564, casent0180565, casent0180566, casent0180570, casent0180572, casent0180575, casent0180576, casent0180578, casent0180580, casent0180583, casent0180585, casent0180593, casent0180597, casent0180598, casent0180599, casent0180603, casent0180605, casent0180606, casent0180608, casent0180612, casent0180620, casent0180622, casent0180623, casent0180625, casent0180627, casent0180632, casent0180637, casent0186756, casent0187238, casent0187413, casent0187428, casent0187431, casent0187461, casent0187467, casent0187476, casent0187485, casent0187496, casent0187497, casent0187498, casent0187499, casent0187500, casent0187501, casent0187503, casent0187504, casent0187505, casent0187506, casent0187507, casent0187508, casent0187509, casent0187510, casent0187511, casent0187512, casent0187513, casent0187514, casent0187515, casent0187516, casent0187517, casent0187518, casent0187519, casent0187520, casent0187521, casent0187522, casent0187523, casent0187524, casent0187525, casent0187526, casent0187527, casent0187528, casent0187530, casent0187532, casent0187533, casent0187534, casent0187535, casent0187536, casent0187537, casent0187538, casent0187539, casent0187540, casent0187541, casent0187542, casent0187543, casent0233428, casent0233429, casent0233430, casent0233431, casent0233432, casent0233433, casent0233434, casent0233435, casent0233436, casent0233437, casent0233438, casent0233439, casent0233440, casent0233441, casent0233442, casent0233443, casent0233444, casent0233445, casent0233446, casent0233447, casent0233448, casent0233449, casent0233450, casent0233451, casent0233452, casent0233453, casent0233454, casent0233455, casent0233456, casent0233457, casent0233458, casent0233459, casent0233460, casent0233461, casent0233462, casent0233463, casent0233464, casent0233465, casent0233466, casent0233467, casent0233468, casent0233469, casent0233470, casent0233471, casent0233472, casent0233473, casent0233474, casent0233475, casent0233476, casent0233477, casent0233478, casent0233479, casent0233480, casent0233481, casent0233482, casent0233483, casent0233484, casent0233485, casent0233486, casent0233487, casent0233488, casent0233489, casent0233490, casent0233491, casent0233492, casent0233493, casent0233494, casent0233495, casent0233496, casent0233497, casent0233498, casent0233499, casent0233500, casent0233501, casent0233502, casent0233503, casent0233504, casent0233505, casent0233506, casent0233507, casent0233508, casent0233509, casent0233510, casent0233511, casent0233512, casent0233513, casent0233514, casent0233515, casent0233516, casent0233517, casent0233518, casent0233519, casent0233520, casent0233521, casent0233522, casent0233523, casent0233524, casent0233525, casent0233526, casent0233527, casent0233528, casent0233529, casent0233530, casent0233531, casent0233532, casent0233533, casent0233534, casent0233535, casent0233536, casent0233537, casent0233538, casent0233539, casent0233540, casent0233541, casent0233542, casent0233543, casent0715182, casent0742298, casent0742330; syntype of Anoplolepis gracilipes: casent0102951, casent0103001, casent0903237; syntype of Formica subtilis: casent0901928

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