The antennal sensory array of the nocturnal bull ant Myrmecia pyriformis

Fiorella Ramirez-Esquivel*, Jochen Zeil, Ajay Narendra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Insects use antennal sensilla to not only detect chemical and mechanical cues but also to sense changes in temperature, humidity and CO2 levels. Very little is known about the variation in numbers, size and structure of sensilla in ants. Here we describe in detail the array of sensilla on the apical segment of the antennae of the nocturnal Australian bull ant Myrmecia pyriformis. Using scanning electron microscopy techniques we identified eight types of sensilla: trichodea curvata, basiconica, trichodea, coelocapitular, chaetica, trichoid II, ampullacea and coeloconica. Mapping the spatial location of each sensillum revealed distinct distribution patterns for different types of sensilla which were consistent across different individuals. We found, in most cases, the number of sensilla increases with the size of the apical antennomere, which in turn increases with body size. Conversely, the size of sensilla did not appreciably increase with the size of the apical antennomere. We discuss the size, numbers and distribution of sensilla of M.pyriformis compared to other ant species. Lastly, given the inconsistent use of sensillum nomenclature and difficulties associated in reliable identification we have attempted to consolidate the ant sensilla literature to make possible interspecific comparisons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-558
Number of pages16
JournalArthropod Structure and Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Antennae
  • Myrmecia pyriformis
  • Sensilla distribution
  • Sensilla numbers
  • Sensilla size


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