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Species: Dolichoderus thoracicus   (Smith, 1860) 

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Current Valid Name:

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2023)

Extant: 7 valid subspecies

Tapinoma thoracica Smith, 1860a PDF: 69 (w.) INDONESIA (Sulawesi). Indomalaya. Primary type information: Primary type material: 2 syntype workers. Primary type locality: Indonesia: Makassar, “Mak.” (A.R. Wallace). Primary type depository: OXUM. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Combination in Hypoclinea: Roger, 1863b PDF: 14.
Combination in Dolichoderus: Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 162.
Senior synonym of Dolichoderus sellaris: Donisthorpe, 1932c PDF: 457 (by implication); Shattuck, 1994 PDF: 70; Bolton, 1995b: 177; Dill, 2002 PDF: 64.


Dolichoderus thoracicus is a brown to blackish brown species most easily recognized by the deep and broad concavity on the mesosomal dorsum separating the propodeum from the mesonotum, the strongly convex propodeum which forms a blunt posteriorly projecting protrusion, and the strongly concave propodeal declivity. The type specimen of the species was collected by the great naturalist Alfred Wallace from Sulawesi. Dolichoderus thoracicus is native to Southeast Asia, where, despite its use as a biological control agent, little is known about its basic biology. The species is capable of nesting opportunistically both in leaf litter on the ground and arboreally between leaves and fronds (Way & Khoo, 1991). Maschwitz et al. (1991)reported an undetermined species assigned to the ‘D. thoracicus group’ as the first Dolichoderine known to produce silk nests. 

// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Africa: Nigeria
    Asia: Borneo, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Afrotropical, Australasia, Indomalaya
  Native to (according to species list records):
    Indomalaya bioregion

Distribution Notes:

Native range (Shattuck, 1994). Southeast Asia: Borneo, Cambodia, India, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Sulawesi, Vietnam.Sulawesi, Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Vietnam, India


It is possible that the native range of D. thoracicus has been expanded in parts of Asia by intentional introduction (McGlynn, 1999b). Although it has not been reported to have established outside of Asia, the species has been intercepted occasionally at US ports of entry, and several interceptions are recorded from New Zealand (Ward et al., 2006).

Dolichoderus thoracicus is known to suppress populations of various pests of perennial crops in Southeast Asia, most notably cocoa and sapodilla (Cuc & Van Mele, 1999; Khoo & Ho, 1992). In one study farmers in Vietnam were reported to encourage the presence of these ants in their orchards by providing artificial nesting and food resources, and 25% fewer farmers sprayed insecticides than in orchards where D. thoracicus was absent (Van Mele & Cuc, 2001).Add your content here.


Diagnosis among workers of introduced and commonly intercepted ants in the United States. Antenna 12-segmented. Antennal scape length less than 1.5x head length. Eyes medium to large (greater than 5 facets); do not break outline of head. Antennal sockets and posterior clypeal margin separated by a distance less than the minimum width of antennal scape. Dorsum of mesosoma with deep and broad concavity; erect hairs present. Propodeum with distinct and posteriorly projecting protrusion. Waist 1-segmented. Petiole upright and not appearing flattened. Gaster armed with ventral slit. Color uniformly brown to blackish brown.

Dolichoderus thoracicus is a morphologically variable species (Emery, 1887e), as evidenced by the high number of subspecific names (Shattuck, 1994). Among commonly intercepted ants, D. thoracicus is recognizable by the deep and broad mesosomal depression, the unique shape of the propodeum, and the strongly concave propodeal declivity. It is most likely confused with Ochetellus glaber, but can be separated by the deeper and broader mesosomal depression and the presence of erect hairs on the mesosoma. 


Cuc, N.T.T. & Van Mele, P. (1999) Beneficial effects of black ants (Dolichoderus thoracicus Smith) in sapodilla production in Vietnam. In: Loke, W.H. & Sastroutomo, S.S. (Eds.) Symposium on Biological Control in the Tropics, Serdang, Malaysia. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp. 29-33.

Emery, C. (1887e) Catalogo delle formiche esistenti nelle collezioni del Museo Civico di Genova. Parte terza. Formiche della regione Indo-Malese e dell'Australia (continuazione e fine). [part]. Ann. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat., 25[=(2)5], 433-448.

Khoo, K.C. & Ho, C.T. (1992) The influence of Dolichoderus thoracicus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on losses due to Helopeltis theivora (Heteroptera: Miridae), black pod disease, and mammalian pests in cocoa in Malaysia. Bull. Entomol. Res., 82, 485-491.

Maschwitz, U., Dumpert, K., Botz, T. & Rohe, W. (1991) A silk-weaving dolichoderine ant in a Malaysian rain forest. Insect. Soc., 38, 307-316.

McGlynn, T.P. (1999) The worldwide transfer of ants: geographical distribution and ecological invasions. J. Biogeogr., 26, 535-548.

Shattuck, S.O. (1994) Taxonomic catalog of the ant subfamilies Aneuretinae and Dolichoderinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Univ. Calif. Publ. Entomol., 112, i-xix, 1-241.

Smith, F. (1860) Descriptions of new species of hymenopterous insects collected by Mr. A. R. Wallace at Celebes. J. Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. Zool., 5(17b) (suppl. to vol. 4), 57-93.

Van Mele, P. & Cuc, N.T.T. (2001) Farmers' perceptions and practices in use of Dolichoderus thoracicus (Smith) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) for biological control of pests of sapodilla. Biol. Control, 20, 23-29.

Ward, D.F., Beggs, J.R., Clout, M.N., Harris, R.J. & O'Connor, S. (2006) The diversity and origin of exotic ants arriving in New Zealand via human-mediated dispersal. Diversity Distrib., 12, 601-609.

Way, M.J. & Khoo, K.C. (1991) Colony dispersion and nesting habits of the ants, Dolichoderus thoracicus and Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in relation to their success as biological control agents on cocoa. Bull. Entomol. Res., 81, 341-350.

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 4 times found in Port of entry, 2 times found in rainforest, 1 times found in botanical garden, 1 times found in litter, rainforest, Garcinia mangostana times found in host, Pterocarpus sp. times found in host, 1 times found in N. beach, 1 times found in plot 3 summit, 1 times found in tropical dry forest.

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times forager, 1 times on Lansium domesticum fruit, 1 times on fruit, 1 times near house, 1 times in dead twig on ground, 1 times Hibiscus tiliaceus foliage, 1 times ex dead twig, 1 times with Lansium domesticum, 1 times on low vegetation.

Collected most commonly using these methods: 1 times pitfall, 1 times pitfall, litter, 1 times search, 1 times beating vegetation and hand collections, 1 times direct collection, 1 times Plot-1.

Elevations: collected from 10 - 290 meters, 144 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1911-12-31 00:00:00.0 and 2022-08-16 00:00:00.0

Type specimens: syntype of Dolichoderus thoracicus: casent0901926; syntype of Hypoclinea bituberculata: casent0915560; syntype of Hypoclinea bituberculata: casent0902976; type of Hypoclinea bituberculata: focol0528; type of Hypoclinea sellaris: focol2773, focol2774; Type of nomen nudum: Dolichoderus thoracicus brunnea: casent0917094

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