Current View: All Antweb
Change View
Cite this page

Citing AntWeb


To cite this page, please use the following:

· For print:      Citation: AntWeb. Version 8.86.1. California Academy of Science, online at Accessed .

· For web:

Genus: Acanthostichus   Mayr, 1887 


Current Valid Name:

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2023)

Extant: 23 valid species

Fossil: 1 valid species

Acanthostichus Mayr, 1887 PDF: 549. Type-species: Typhlopone serratula, by monotypy. AntCat AntWiki

Taxonomic history

Acanthostichus as genus: all authors.
Genus Acanthostichus catalogues
Genus Acanthostichus references
Emery, 1895l PDF: 748 (synopsis); Emery, 1911e PDF: 12, 13 (Acanthostichus, Acanthostichus (Ctenopyga) diagnoses); Gallardo, 1918c PDF: 8 (Argentina species key); Wheeler, 1922: 640 (genera, key); Wheeler, 1934g PDF: 162 (species key); Kusnezov, 1962a PDF: 125 (species key); Brown, 1975 PDF: 39 (diagnosis, review of tribe and genus); Brown, 1975 PDF: 42 (review of Ctenopyga); Bolton, 1990a PDF: 58 (abdominal morphology); MacKay, 1996 PDF: 129 (diagnosis, all species revision, key); Mackay & Mackay, 2002 PDF: 35 (U.S.A., New Mexico species key); Bolton, 2003 PDF: 33, 137 (diagnosis, synopsis); Brady et al., 2014 10.1186/1471-2148-14-93 PDF: 4 (phylogeny); Baccaro et al., 2015 10.5281/zenodo.32912 PDF: 146 (genus in Brazil); Borowiec, 2016 10.3897/zookeys.608.9427 PDF: 66, 72 (diagnosis); Palacio, 2019 PDF: 585 (Colombia species key).
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Nearctic, Neotropical
  Native biogeographic regions (according to species list records):
    Nearctic, Neotropical

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


> AcanthostichusHNS Mayr, 1887: 549 [[ worker ]] [[ male ]]. Type: Acanthostichus serratulusHNS

(= Typhlopone serratulus F. SmithHNS), monobasic.

> AcanthostichusHNS: Emery, 1895 a: 748 - 752; pl. 14, fig. 5 a-d; pl. 16, fig. 5, 6; pl. 17, fig. 12, 13; [[ worker ]] [[ queen ]] [[ male ]]; 3 n. spp. described. ----- Emery, 1899: 4, pl. 2, fig. 5 a-d, larva. ----- G. C. Wheeler, 1950: 109, fig. 2, larva.

> AcanthostichusHNS subgenus AcanthostichusHNS: Emery, 1911: 13, pl. 1, fig. 4, 4 b, 5, [[ worker ]] [[ queen ]] [[ male ]] diagnoses, species list.

> AcanthostichusHNS: Bruch, 1925: 110 - 114, pl., [[ worker ]] [[ male ]] larva, pupa. ----- Bruch, 1934. [[ worker ]] [[ queen ]] [[ male ]].

= AcanthostichusHNS (s. str.): Kusnezov, 1962, synopsis. ----- Kempf, 1964 b, critique of Kusnezov synopsis. = AcanthostichusHNS: Kempf, 1972: 10, species list. [[ ... ]] TyphloponeHNS: F. Smith, 1858: 111, [[ worker ]].

The worker, queen, and male are characterized above under the tribe.

bionomics: The species of AcanthostichusHNS, so far as known, are termite hunters. In keeping with the dichthadiiform queen known for some species, the behavior and raiding organization is very army-ant-like in at least some of the tropical forms. Karol Lenko and I found a column at midday raiding a termite nest in the floor of the forest near Benjamin Constant in Brasilian Amazonas. These were robust, dark brown ants of an undetermined species. The column moved mostly beneath the leaf litter and had made a substantial cache of dead worker termites beneath a piece of bark lying on the ground. From the cache, a column led to a crevice in the ground under the roots of a tree, and we could not reach the nest. We saw more than 50 workers, which were probably only a small part of the column. The workers move rapidly and remind one of army ants by the way they walk and use their antennae.

distribution: South America east of the Andes and south into northern Argentina; one doubtful species, skwarraeHNS, in southern Mexico.

species-level taxonomy: Kusnezov (1962) gave a review of AcanthostichusHNS with rather full notes on the biology of some species, a discussion of the taxonomy of certain forms, and a key to the species modified from an earlier one by Wheeler (1934: 162). Kusnezov's paper was published in Spanish in a journal not readily available to many potential users, but even so, I have not attempted to translate or revise the key here. In the first place, a later paper by Kempf (1964) criticized the Kusnezov review for accepting too readily the Wheeler key and the taxonomy on which it was based. Kempf also pointed out that some of Kusnezov's locality records were based on misdeterminations, and that a variety was doubtfully synonymized. Kempf himself did not attempt a revision of the genus because, as he, Kusnezov, Creighton, and others have all declared, the systematics of this group can only be clarified by the study of new material and the critical reexamination of the types of F. Smith, Emery, and Forel. In his Catalogo, Kempf (1972) listed the species of AcanthostichusHNS s. str., excluding CtenopygaHNS because it came from outside the neotropical area proper.

I find that there is little I can do at this time to further the revision of AcanthostichusHNS. Both Kempf and I have obtained a little more material during recent years, and I have been able to examine the types of A. serratulusHNS and A. kirbyiHNS and to compare them with other material, so that digms are available to the next reviser. But the considerable variation in color, sculpture, and size in the worker samples in collections is great enough to demand that still more material be gathered. The clarification of the species-level taxonomy probably will depend on the association of all the worker forms with their males, since the male genitalia seem to have good characters.

The one important revisionary move I feel should be made now is the separation of CtenopygaHNS from AcanthostichusHNS. This is explained below under the CtenopygaHNS generic heading.

See something amiss? Send us an email.
Log In to see maps.