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Mayriella abstinens Forel 1902

Compiled by Warwick Don & Richard Harris 2005
Biostatus: Introduced


Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Stenammini
Genus: Mayriella
Species: abstinens

Common name(s)


Synonyms (WWW5)

Mayriella overbecki Viehmeyer


Mayriella contains five described species (all in Australia) and several undescribed species, ranging from Nepal, South-East Asia, Papua New Guinea to Australia (Shattuck 1999). One Australian species, Mayriella abstinens has become established in New Zealand. It was first collected in this country by R.W.Taylor in Grey Lynn, Auckland, in 1957. More specimens were collected in Auckland in 1959 and 1960 (Taylor 1961), but the species was not collected again (in Auckland) until 1981. Several more recent collections, in and near Auckland, indicate continued establishment (Harris & Berry 2001).


Distribution is restricted to the Auckland region.

General Description


The antennae are 10-segmented with a two-segmented club. The upper surface of the head has a pair of deep grooves that contain the antennae when at rest. The eyes are elongate and the lower section narrows into a point (Shattuck 1999).

Diagnostic features of the worker

Length about 1.5 mm; propodeal teeth (paired) blunt; colour of body reddish-brown with yellow antennae and legs.


The workers move slowly and feign death, and so are often overlooked. Taylor (1961) described some nests at Grey Lynn as merely "shallow excavations in soil among grass roots, or beneath small wood fragments or pebbles." A nest at Mt Albert Domain in Auckland was exposed "from bark on the underside of a rotten log." According to Shattuck (1999), Mayriella species in Australia are commonly collected as foragers in litter samples. Nests in the open typically have a small mound of loose soil at the entrance. Colonies are small, containing some 50-100 workers and several queens. Taylor fed workers in artificial nests on freshly killed Collembola, Symphyla and geophilid centipedes. Workers are attracted to protein baits (RJH pers. obs.).

Pest Status

Rarely encountered. Impacts not known, but considered unlikely to be a pest.