Contents Contents The Ants of Egypt
SUBFAMILY FORMICINAE - Genus Lepisiota (Mayr)
Also circum-Mediterranean and West Asian species

Genus Lepisiota (Mayr) (previously Acantholepis Mayr, 1861: 42)

Genus Introduction in Ants of Africa


Diagnostic Features - Antennae 11-segmented. Eyes well developed, ocelli present but may be reduced. Mandibles with the apical margin oblique and dentate, overhung by clypeus. Alitrunk constricted in the mesonotal region, the propodeum swollen and bidentate or bituberculate. Petiole a scale with the dorsal margin bispinose, bidentate or emarginate. Acidopore borne on a conical projection of the hypopygium, surrounded by a fringe of hairs.

The evidence at present for this area is for the existence of two species-groups - note the early authors mostly used two "species" -"capensis" and "frauenfeldi". The capensis species had a petiole which was bidentate not bispinose. True Lepisiota capensis (from South Africa) is black with sparse erect black hairs. Some of the confusion may stem from Forel (1892a: 43) where his key had - capensis (from South Africa, Madagascar and Indian continent) with "erect pilosity whitish, abundant on body, none on tibiae and scapes". also "petiole scale narrow with two short spines" - This clearly was erroneous in both those aspects.

Note - the diagnosis and separation of the carbonaria-group species is somewhat speculative, as the many of original descriptions are minimal separations of "subspecies". The efforts of Collingwood, later with Agosti, are admirable but the papers again give fairly minimal information and their separations also seem to owe more than a little to informed guesswork. Some species are included for comparison with those now known from Egypt, e.g L. simplex and L. incisa. The "frauenfeldi page deliberately is wide-ranging because of the poor, confused state of the knowledge.

frauenfeldi-group - elongated, shiny species; with long antennae and legs; propodeum and petiole usually with sharp prominences or spines; plus reduced or no pilosity and little pubescence
"frauenfeldi" - see analysis page, an attempt to sort out a taxonomic mess and with details opaciventris described from Egypt, and, on separate pages, Lepisiota aegyptiaca new status; Lepisiota gracilicornis, Lepisiota nigra, Lepisiota splendens; and Lepisiota syriaca. The type form is not known from Egypt.
From Tunisia also Lepisiota ajjer separated by its contrasting yellow-orange appendages
{Lepisiota gracilicornis}
carbonaria-group - stockier species, duller in appearance due to dense sculpturation; mostly TL 2.0-2.5 mm; propodeum with rounded or blunt prominences and petiole without spines; shorter antennae and legs; plus substantial coarse pilosity and dense variably coarse pubescence {Lepisiota canescens}

Lepisiota frauenfeldi species-group

Lepisiota elegantissimaBizarre and uniquely elongated species; TL 4.25-4.60 mm; HL 0.80-0.82, HW 0.46-0.61, SL 2.0; SI 444.
United Arab Emirates (Collingwood & Van Harten, 2011: 64, in Collingwood et al, 2011)
1 Slender elongated species with very long antennae, SI at least 175, and legs 2
-- Stocky and less elongated with shorter antennae, SI ca 150, and legs 4
2 {short description of image}SI ca 230; almost completely black, except for scapes, mandibles and lower legs gracilicornis
-- SI < 200 3
3 Lepisiota aegyptiacaTL 2.3 mm; with relatively long, narrow head (cf frauenfeldi) upper marging of petiole weakly incised (less than frauenfeldi); SI ca 175 (photographed specimens) aegyptiaca new status
-- Lepisiota splendens non-typeTL 2.5 mm; scapes long SI >190; petiole narrow, very shiny; propodeum with distinct spines; brown-black, appendages more brown Questionable record from Egypt - splendens
Damaged type worker from Saudi Arabia; separated (Collingwood & Agosti, 1996: 363) as SI 200-205; dorsum of alitrunk and gaster without erect hairs - appears almost identical to splendens
4 {short description of image}TL 2.0-3.2 mm; petiole scale wide & acutely dentate; propodeum with short teeth about than 0.5 X basal space; clypeus with weaker median carina; less shiny but finely and distinctly reticulate; alitrunk black with no more than mesonotum red; SI ca 150 (photographed specimens & Finzi drawing) syriaca
Lepisiota dammamaTL , HW 0.61, SL 0.95, SI 153 ; slightly bicoloured yellow-brown; propodeal and petiole spines sharp
Saudi Arabia, Dammam
Collingwood & Agosti (1996: 366) gave the head as "brilliant black" - which is not the case with either of the specimens on Antweb - see
The label dates "March-April '79" differ from the type information of 5.i.79, location and collector the same.
Lepisiota kabulicaTL 3.0-3.5 mm; dark red-brown; petiole scale high but fairly narrow, acutely dentate
Aghanistan, Saroubi
-- Lepisiota nigraBlack specimens from desert areas with workers TL 2.8-3.0 mm, possibly alternatively identifable as bipartita, which remains as a subspecies of frauenfeldi (see above). In his key, Finzi (1936: 188) noted - petiole scale large (bipartita type); maximum width at about about double the depth of the incision of the scale. Agosti & Collingwood (1987b: 279, in key) separated nigra from frauenfeldi as the former being wholly black with a smooth pronotum; whereas the latter has "part of body usually with a small patch of red, pronotum sculptured". Questionable record from Egypt - nigra
Lepisiota harteniTL 2.80, HL 0.61, HW 0.57, SL 0.70; very short propodeal spines but long petiole spines; head fringed with short suberect pubescence
Lepisiota dhofaraHolotype only; HW 0.60, SL 1.05, SI 175; densely sculptured and opaque; propodeal spines long but petiole spines short

Lepisiota carbonaria species-group

Collingwood's (1985) separation of the carbonaria-group, with some points and measurements from Collingwood & Agosti (1996), and additional material on African species gives the following (the links are to individual species pages) -

Species with the head and gaster sculptured

1 {Lepisiota obtusa}HW 0.61-0.62 SI 116-118
Propodeum profile flat with junction of dorsum and declivity an acute angle but without teeth or spines; erect hairs sparser and shorter, gaster with spare pubescence; overall appearance duller; eyes flatter and appear dull; perhaps slightly redder in colour with more distinctively contrasting mandibles, seemingly always visible
-- {Lepisiota erythraea}Petiole rounded with very shallow emargination; propodeum with blunt projections only; whole body sculptured and dull; alitrunk entirely without dorsal hairs; HW 0.57-0.58 SI 107
Base colour dark red-brown; head in full face view heart shaped, erect hairs short and not obviously distinctive; overall appearance only weakly shiny, due to a visibly shagreened (roughened) surface
-- Dorsal hairs on alitrunk sparse, mainly restricted to pronotum or nil 2
2 Petiole angles produced into long spines 3
-- Petiole emarginate or dentate at most 4
3 Lepisiota incisaPetiole spines longer than their intervening width; HW 0.57-0.57 SI 105-107 - for comparison incisa
-- Lepisiota carbonariaPetiole spines about half as long as their intervening width; HW 0.60-0.61 SI 116
Specimen from Sudan
-- {Lepisiota hirsuta}Petiole spines about half as long as their intervening width or less, scale narrow apically in profile; with abundant variably long erect white hairs on all surfaces; distinctive downcurved hairs on clypeus - not Saudi Arabia
With somewhat longer erect hairs on the pronotum, general pilosity is shaggier, with abundant pubescence on the gaster; head in full face view with a more rectangular appearance; the mandibles often concealed when closed; eyes distinctly convex and protruding; overall appearance shinier and blacker, eyes viewed from most angles seem to be black
4 {Lepisiota depilis}Petiole dentate; coarse dorsal sculpture especially on pronotum not obscuring cuticular shine; one or two occasional pronotal hairs; HW 0.62 SI 112-113; Emery (1897e) erect hairs on gaster confined to apical row on each tergite; pubescence more copious than other carbonaria; almost all of body sub-opaque, metanotum and propodeum opaque
Specimen from Sudan
Lepisiota pubescensPetiole dentate; sculpture fine but visible; TL 3.2-4 mm; shiny; Tunisia

Species with the head and gaster smooth and brilliant

1 {Lepisiota canescens}Covered with fine, sharp, whitish hairs; TL max 2.5 mm; petiole spines weak (?) less developed than type (capensis) but clear; ? petiole with prolonged posterior pedicel. BT - head ovoid narrower anteriorly, scapes darkened apically otherwise with funiculi brownish yellow; specimen from Sudan for comparison
-- Lepisiota simplexvery few erect hairs on alitrunk; for comparison; type location Somalia
2005, 2006, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.