|The Ants of
Variability of the species "Oecophylla longinoda" (Latreille)
|Return to main Oecophylla page|
Oecophylla longinoda sensu strictu (Latreille) - list as in Bolton (1995: 298)
Type location Senegal
(Formica longinoda, Latreille, 1802c: 184, illustrated, worker;
Emery 1892d: 564, queen; Forel, 1913b: 339, queen [not male as given in Bolton, 1995: 298]; status as species
Dalla Torre, 1893: 176); minor described as Oecophylla brevinodis
nov sp, André, 1890: 313 (synonymy by Wheeler, 1922a: 945; correctly
this should be attributed to Emery, 1892d: 564, although he seems to
have regarded brevinodis as simply very small examples of longinoda)
from Sierra Leone
Note: Now (October 2014) type images are available of most of the above, the exceptions being the type major of longinoda and the type of rufescens
In my original Guide, I followed the information in Bolton (1973a) which simply described the "single West African species" as dimorphic and gave no indication of any variability. In Nigeria, all the numerous collections and innumerable observations we made on the species never once indicated anything other than simple dimorphism and no more than minor variations in overall body colour. Specimens sent to me in 2001 from Cameroun by Professor Doyle McKey's team showed how that simple view was a delusion.
Turning to Wheeler (1922) revealed how much the single species actually does vary. Despite that, Wheeler had the observation -
"fusca was originally described by Emery [1899e] as an independent species, but Forel reduced it to subspecific rank on finding the variety rubriceps, which shows some colour variation in the direction of the typical longinoda. The discovery of another variety, annectens described below, connecting rubriceps and longinoda, is additional evidence that fusca, cannot be maintained as a species. In my opinion it is merely an extreme melanic variety) for I am unable to detect in it any morphological characters of even subspecific value. All of the varieties of longinoda, are equally polymorphic in the worker caste and the smallest individuals all agree with the description of Andre's brevinodis, except in colour".
The specimens from Cameroun (Cameroon) sent to me by Professor Doyle McKey's Wolbachia research team, coupled with the ease and convenience of digital photography now (2005) have led me to what really is a reversion to the early opinion of Emery (1899). Thus, I come to a clear separation into two species-groups and possible further separation into distinct species. Despite the review by Wheeler (1922), to which he refers, in his contribution to Wytsman's "Genera Insectorum", Emery (1925b: 52) still had a single extant species - Oecophylla smaragdina, with subspecies Oecophylla longinoda and African varieties thereof - viz. annectens, fusca, rubriceps and textor. Contrary to what Wheeler wrote, Forel (1913h) had not reduced fusca to "subspecific rank" but regarded longinoda, fusca and rubriceps equally as races of smaragdina.
I have appended a section on Oecophylla smaragdina for comparison, especially with textor which perhaps is closer to smaragdina than to longinoda.
Key to speciues
|Return to main Oecophylla page||
© 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.