Welcome to the new AntWeb!

We here at AntWeb have been busy working on our newest (and most ambitious) version of the site - and there are lots of great new things! Which means there are lots of changes (don't worry, they're all for the best).

And we've put together a handy little guide to show you all the new features and enhancements - why don't you have a quick look to check out all the new features and enhancements?

No thanks
Current View: Global: Bolton World Catalog
Change View
Cite this page

Citing AntWeb

X

To cite this page, please use the following:

· For print: . Accessed

· For web:

Species: Hypoponera punctatissima   (Roger, 1859) 

Classification:
Download Data

See Also:

Hypoponera punctatissima exacta, Hypoponera punctatissima glabrata, Hypoponera punctatissima indifferens, Hypoponera punctatissima jugata

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2014)

Overview:

Hypoponera punctatissima is a relatively nondescript small, shining brownish yellow to dark brown species with short antennal scapes and minute but conspicuous eyes. Although likely native to the Afrotropics or possibly Central Asia (Delabie & Blard, 2002), the species was first described from hothouses in Germany (Roger, 1859)and has established introduced populations across the nearly all the globe’s warmer regions in addition to many colder regions such as northern Europe and northern North America (Delabie & Blard, 2002). It is most often collected from the leaf litter and rotting wood, and is often found in association with disturbed habitats such as gardens, plantations, and crop fields, in addition to buildings and hothouses in colder climates. In the southeastern United States H. punctatissima is considered a pest species on account of the nuisances and stings caused during the large dispersal flights of the females (Deyrup et al., 2000). The global distribution, biology and reasons for ecological success was reviewed by Delabie and Blard (2002).

Distribution:

Native range. Old World. Likely African in origin, but Central Asia has also been proposed.
Introduced range. Cosmopolitan tramp species. Occurs outdoors across tropical/subtropical habitats and indoors in more temperate climates. 

Biology:

Hypoponera punctatissima is reported to have been following humans for a very long time, having arrived in Western Europe by 1,000 A.D. (Seifert, 1996; Timmins & Stradling, 1993; Whitehead, 1994), and continuing to invade new regions (Boer et al., 2006; Delabie & Blard, 2002; Harris, 2003; Olsen, 1994). Although the material referred to in the literature may prove to be several distinct species (Bolton & Fisher, 2011; Seifert, 2003b), the introduced range of what is currently considered to be H. punctatissima is rivaled only by M. pharaonis. The introduced range includes Europe (Rasplus et al., 2010), North America (Smith, 1979), Central America, South America (Delabie & Blard, 2002), the Caribbean (Jaffe & Lattke, 1994; Pressick & Herbst, 1973), the Pacific Islands (Sarnat & Economo, In Press; Wilson & Taylor, 1967), New Zealand (Harris, 2003). The African distribution, part of which may be introduced, is given in Bolton and Fisher (2011). See Delabie and Blard (2002)for additional distribution records.

Workers and nests of the species are often quite cryptic and rarely collected. More often the species is detected by flying queens (the males are ergatoid). The species is reported to only occur where temperatures exceed 21°C (Timmins & Stradling, 1993), and preys exclusively on live insects (Harris, 2003). Delabie and Blard (2002)propose that H. punctatissima was able to spread from its warm native range into colder regions by taking advantage of the heat generated by organic decomposition of compost heaps, horse dung, horse stables, chicken dung and other hallmarks of human settlement. The more modern spread of H. punctatissima is associated with the advent of year round heating in houses, greenhouses and hospitals. In tropical countries where H. punctatissima has been introduced, the apparent rarity of the species may be due to the limited nest sites afforded by decomposing matter and wood detritus close to human establishments (Delabie & Blard, 2002).

In Florida, Hypoponera punctatissima may occur in enormous numbers, especially in highly disturbed areas such as urban, suburban, roadsides and improved pastures, and may have considerable impact on some native species (Deyrup et al., 2000). It is reported to nest there in disturbed fields, lawns, edges of ditches, and marsh grass tussocks, and is probably a predator of small soil organisms. The species is often reported as a pest when queens fly in large numbers, stinging when they land on human skin if they are touched, trapped under clothing, or stuck in sweat (Deyrup et al., 2000).

Identification:

Hypoponera punctatissima has a very complicated taxonomic history littered with infraspecific names, synonyms and misidentifications. The material and names associated with H. punctatissima in Europe (Seifert, 2003b) and the Afrotropical and West Palaearctic regions (Bolton & Fisher, 2011) were recently revised. Combined, these two revisions synonymized 16 previously published names with H. punctatissima. Of particular importance to the New World, evidence was marshaled by Bolton and Fisher to synonymize H. ergatandria (Forel), which had previously been considered a distinct species in various North American and Caribbean studies. Those authors also synonymized H. schauinslandi (Emery) which Seifert had considered a distinct species based on micro-morphometrics subjected to discriminant analysis.

Diagnosis among workers of introduced and commonly intercepted ants in the United States. Antenna 12-segmented. Antennal scapes do not reach posterior head margin. Eyes small (equal to or less than 5 facets); situated distinctly below midline of head. Frontal lobes relatively narrow. Clypeus with anterior margin flat to convex, but never forming a distinct triangle that projects anteriorly beyond the base of the mandibles. Mandibles triangular; with more than 7 teeth and denticles. Metanotum does not form a prominent convexity bordered by distinct suture lines. Hind coxae lacking dorsal spine. Hind tibia with pectinate spur, but without simple spur. Tarsal claws lacking subapical tooth. Waist 1-segmented. Petiole narrowly attached to gaster; conspicuous posterior face. Gaster armed with sting. Distinct constriction between abdominal segments 3+4. Abdominal segment 4 lacking deep longitudinal furrows. Color brownish yellow to dark brown approaching black. Sculpture mostly shining.

Among introduced and commonly intercepted ants of the United States, H. punctatissima is most likely to be confused with H. opaciceps, but can be reliably distinguished by the antennal scapes which fail to reach the posterior head margin (vs. reach and slightly exceed the posterior head margin), the more smooth and shining sculpture (especially the mesopleuron region), and the relatively shorter and broader petiole with the anterior and posterior faces slightly converging apically. Another species more easily confused with H. punctatissima is H. ragusai. Although H. ragusai has not been reported as introduced or intercepted in the United States, it has long been misidentified as H. punctatissima and records previous to Bolton and Fisher (2011)may require reexamination. This is especially true for Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. Hypoponera punctatissima can be distinguished by (1) the petiolar node, which in profile is relatively shorter and higher (LPeI 43–53); and (2) in dorsal view the petiolar node is relatively shorter from front to back, (DPeI 140–165). According to Bolton and Fisher (2011), in addition to differences in the shape of the petiolar node, H. ragusai workers are always yellow to light brownish yellow, fall at the bottom end of the known size range of H. punctatissima (e.g. HW 0.42–0.50, versus 0.46– 0.60 in H.punctatissima) and have heads that average relatively slightly narrower and scapes that are relatively slightly longer than in H. punctatissima; compare CI and SI above with CI 79–87 and SI 75–84 in H. punctatissima. Finally, the queen of H. ragusai is considerably darker in color than her workers, whereas in H. punctatissima the two castes have the same color.


Worker: head finely punctate and sublucid; in lateral view petiole thick, with parallel anterior and posterior faces, rounding into the dorsal face; body light yellow- or orange-brown and somewhat shiny.

Comments:

Introduced species.

CASENT0103973 is one of the weird flightless males of H. punctatissima, characterized by large head & jaws, hairiness, and pale coloration. There are actually two morphs of flightless males in this species, but no winged males that anybody has seen. This specimen was verified by Bill Brown. The Japanese H. bondroiti is similar to punctatissima, and has the same range of morphs. This species has been studied more extensively by Yamauchi et al. (1969). The two species are quite similar, and Japan happens to be one of the few well-studied areas where puntatissima does not occur as a tramp.

Notes:

first record in NZ; 2003 (Harris 2003)

References:

Bolton, B. & Fisher, B.L. (2011) Taxonomy of Afrotropical and West Palaearctic ants of the ponerine genus Hypoponera Santschi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa, 2843, 1-118.

Delabie, J.H.C. & Blard, F. (2002) The tramp ant Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae): new records from the Southern Hemisphere. Neotrop. Entomol., 31, 149-151.

Deyrup, M., Davis, L. & Cover, S. (2000) Exotic ants in Florida. Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc., 126, 293-326.

Harris, A.C. (2003) A first record of Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) (Formicidae: Ponerinae) established in Dunedin, New Zealand. Weta, 26, 7-11.

Jaffe, K. & Lattke, J.E. (1994) Ant fauna of the French and Venezuelan islands in the Caribbean. In: Williams, D.F. (Ed.) Exotic ants. Biology, impact, and control of introduced species. Westview Press, Boulder.  xvii + 332 p., pp. 181-190.

Rasplus, J.Y., Villemant, C., Paiva, M.R., Delvare, G. & Roques, A. (2010) Hymenoptera. BioRisk, 4(2), 669-776.

Reimer, N.J. (1994) Distribution and impact of alien ants in vulnerable Hawaiian ecosystems. In: Williams, D.F. (Ed.) Exotic ants. Biology, impact, and control of introduced species. Westview Press, Boulder.  xvii + 332 p., pp. 11-22.

Roger, J. (1859) Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Ameisenfauna der Mittelmeerländer. I. Berl. Entomol. Z., 3, 225-259.

Seifert, B. (1996) Ameisen beobachten, bestimmen. Naturbuch Verlag, Augsburg, 351 pp.

Seifert, B. (2003) Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) and H. schauinslandi (Emery) - Two morphologically and biologically distinct species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Abh. Ber. Naturkundemus. Gorlitz, 75(1), 61-81.

Smith, D.R. (1979) Superfamily Formicoidea. In: Krombein, K.V., Hurd, P.D., Jr., Smith, D.R. & Burks, B.D. (Eds.) Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Volume 2. Apocrita (Aculeata). Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.  pp. i-xvi, 1199-2209 p., pp. 1323-1467.

Timmins, C.J. & Stradling, D.J. (1993) Horse dung: a new or old habitat for Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)? Entomologist, 112, 217-218.

Whitehead, P.F. (1994) Rural breeding populations of Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) (Hym., Formicidae) in Worcestershire. Entomol. Mon. Mag., 130, 194.

Wilson, E.O. & Taylor, R.W. (1967) The ants of Polynesia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pac. Insects Monogr., 14, 1-109.

Bolton, B. & Fisher, B.L. (2011) Taxonomy of Afrotropical and West Palaearctic ants of the ponerine genus Hypoponera Santschi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa, 2843, 1-118.

Delabie, J.H.C. & Blard, F. (2002) The tramp ant Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae): new records from the Southern Hemisphere. Neotrop. Entomol., 31, 149-151.

Deyrup, M., Davis, L. & Cover, S. (2000) Exotic ants in Florida. Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc., 126, 293-326.

Harris, A.C. (2003) A first record of Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) (Formicidae: Ponerinae) established in Dunedin, New Zealand. Weta, 26, 7-11.

Jaffe, K. & Lattke, J.E. (1994) Ant fauna of the French and Venezuelan islands in the Caribbean. In: Williams, D.F. (Ed.) Exotic ants. Biology, impact, and control of introduced species. Westview Press, Boulder.  xvii + 332 p., pp. 181-190.

Rasplus, J.Y., Villemant, C., Paiva, M.R., Delvare, G. & Roques, A. (2010) Hymenoptera. BioRisk, 4(2), 669-776.

Reimer, N.J. (1994) Distribution and impact of alien ants in vulnerable Hawaiian ecosystems. In: Williams, D.F. (Ed.) Exotic ants. Biology, impact, and control of introduced species. Westview Press, Boulder.  xvii + 332 p., pp. 11-22.

Roger, J. (1859) Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Ameisenfauna der Mittelmeerländer. I. Berl. Entomol. Z., 3, 225-259.

Seifert, B. (1996) Ameisen beobachten, bestimmen. Naturbuch Verlag, Augsburg, 351 pp.

Seifert, B. (2003) Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) and H. schauinslandi (Emery) - Two morphologically and biologically distinct species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Abh. Ber. Naturkundemus. Gorlitz, 75(1), 61-81.

Smith, D.R. (1979) Superfamily Formicoidea. In: Krombein, K.V., Hurd, P.D., Jr., Smith, D.R. & Burks, B.D. (Eds.) Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Volume 2. Apocrita (Aculeata). Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.  pp. i-xvi, 1199-2209 p., pp. 1323-1467.

Timmins, C.J. & Stradling, D.J. (1993) Horse dung: a new or old habitat for Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)? Entomologist, 112, 217-218.

Whitehead, P.F. (1994) Rural breeding populations of Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) (Hym., Formicidae) in Worcestershire. Entomol. Mon. Mag., 130, 194.

Wilson, E.O. & Taylor, R.W. (1967) The ants of Polynesia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pac. Insects Monogr., 14, 1-109.

Taxon Page Author History

On 2012-10-29 13:18:48 brian fisher modified Comments
On 2012-10-29 13:16:04 brian fisher modified Comments
On 2012-10-29 13:05:39 brian fisher modified Comments
On 2012-07-18 09:19:25 Eli Sarnat modified Identification
On 2012-07-17 17:07:44 Eli Sarnat modified References
On 2012-07-17 17:07:12 Eli Sarnat modified References
On 2012-07-17 17:05:20 Eli Sarnat modified Identification
On 2012-07-17 17:04:37 Eli Sarnat modified Identification
On 2012-07-17 17:01:25 Eli Sarnat modified Biology
On 2012-07-17 16:58:58 Eli Sarnat modified Distribution
On 2012-07-17 16:58:43 Eli Sarnat modified Distribution
On 2012-07-17 16:56:26 Eli Sarnat modified Overview
On 2011-03-31 23:46:13 Eli Sarnat modified References
On 2011-03-31 23:46:13 Eli Sarnat modified Identification
On 2011-03-31 23:46:13 Eli Sarnat modified Distribution
On 2011-03-31 23:46:13 Eli Sarnat modified Biology

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Bolton, B., 2011:
(Figs 97 – 102)
Ponera punctatissima Roger , 1859: 246, pl. 7, fig. 7. Syntype workers and queen, POLAND: Rauden (now Rudy, Opole Prov.) and GERMANY: Berlin, in hothouses (Roger) (MNHN) [examined]. [Combination in Hypoponera : Taylor, 1967: 12.] (See note 1.)
Ponera androgyna Roger , 1859: 246 (footnote). Syntype ergatoid males (not workers), POLAND: Rauden (now Rudy, Opole Prov.) (Roger) (ZMHB) [not seen]. [Junior synonym of punctatissima : Emery & Forel, 1879: 455; Seifert, 2003: 69.]
Ponera tarda Charsley , 1877: 162. Syntype workers and queen, GREAT BRITAIN: Oxford, 1877 (R.S. Charsley) (OXUM) [not seen]. [Junior synonym of punctatissima : Dalla Torre, 1893: 41; Seifert, 2003: 69.]
Ponera punctatissima r. jugata Forel , 1892: 251. Holotype queen, MADAGASCAR: Prov. d’Imerina (Sikora) (MHNG) [not seen]. [Raised to species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 39. Reverted to subspecies of punctatissima : Emery, 1899: 268. Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 215. Junior synonym of punctatissima : Seifert, 2003: 69.]
Ponera ergatandria Forel , 1893: 365. Syntype workers, queens and ergatoid male, SAINT VINCENT I. (Antilles): 41b (H.H. Smith). (MHNG, BMNH) [BMNH ergatoid male examined]. [Junior synonym of punctatissima : Taylor, 1968: 65. Revived status as species and combination in Hypoponera : Kempf, 1972: 122. Reverted to junior synonym of punctatissima : Smith, D.R. 1979: 1343, here confirmed.] (See note 2).
Ponera kalakauae Forel , 1899: 115. Syntype worker-queen intercaste (not worker) and queen, HAWAIIAN IS: Kauai I., Lahue, 2000 ft, vii.1896 (R.C.L. Perkins) (intercaste), and Honolulu (Oahu I.), xi.1896 (R.C.L. Perkins) (queen) (BMNH) [examined]. [Junior synonym of gleadowi : Wilson, 1958: 328. Junior synonym of punctatissima : Wilson & Taylor, 1967: 29 (in text).] (See note 3.)
Ponera punctatissima subsp. schauinslandi Emery , 1899: 439. Syntype queens, HAWAIIAN IS: Laysan I. (now Laycan I.) (Schauinsland) (MSNG) [not seen] Syn. rev. [Combination in Hypoponera and junior synonym of punctatissima : Wilson & Taylor, 1967: 28. Revived from synonymy and raised to species: Seifert, 2003: 69.]
Ponera ergatandria subsp. bondroiti Forel , 1911: 285. Syntype workers, queen and ergatoid male, BELGIUM: Bruxelles, Jardin Bot., xi.1909, 5.xi.1909, 15.xi.1909 (Bondroit) (MHNG) [not seen] Syn. n. [Raised to species: Santschi, 1937b: 364. Combination in Hypoponera : Onoyama, 1989: 2. Previously junior synonym of schauinslandi : Seifert, 2003: 69.]
Ponera dulcis var. aemula Santschi , 1911: 351. Lectotype and paralectotype workers (designated by Seifert, 2003: 68), TANZANIA: Kilimandjaro, zone des cultures, Kiboscho, 1400 m, 1904 (Ch. Alluaud) (NHMB) [examined] Syn. n. [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 213. Previously junior synonym of schauinslandi : Seifert, 2003: 69.] (See note 4.)
Ponera ergatandria st. cognata Santschi , 1912: 153. Syntype workers, ANGOLA: Benguela, Cucula (J. Cruchet) (NHMB) [examined]. Syn. n. [Unresolved junior primary homonym of Ponera cognata Emery , 1896: 56 (now in Pachycondyla ). Raised to species: Bernard, 1953: 202. Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 213.] (See note 5.)
Ponera ragusai var. sordida Santschi , 1914a: 54. Holotype worker, KENYA: région côtière , Shimoni, st. no. 9, xi.1911 (Alluaud& Jeannel) (NHMB) [examined]. Syn. n. [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 216.]
Ponera incisa Santschi , 1914b: 320, fig. 8. Holotype ergatoid male (not worker), NIGERIA: Lagos (F. Silvestri) (not in NHMB, presumably in DEUN) [not seen]. Syn. n. [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 214.] (See note 6).
Ponera sulcatinasis r. durbanensis Forel , 1914: 213. Syntype workers, SOUTH AFRICA: Natal, Durban, 16.i.1914, no. 323 (G. Arnold) (MHNG) [examined]. Syn. n. [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 214.]
Ponera ergatandria r. petri Forel , 1916: 397. Holotype worker-queen intercaste (not worker), DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: St Gabriel (Kohl) (MHNG) [examined]. Syn. n. [Raised to species: Santschi, 1938: 78. Combination in Hypoponera: Bolton, 1995: 216.]
Ponera brevis Santschi , 1921a: 113, fig. 1a-c. Holotype worker, BENIN (Dahomey on label): Porto Novo (Le Moult) (NHMB) [examined]. Syn. n. [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 213.] (See note 7.)
Ponera punctatissima var. exacta Santschi , 1923: 134. Syntype workers, TUNISIA: Hammamet (Santschi) (NHMB, BMNH) [BMNH syntype examined]. [Junior synonym of punctatissima : Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 71; Seifert, 2003: 69.]
Ponera mina Wheeler , W.M. 1927b: 131, fig. 2. Syntype workers, queens and ergatoid male, AUSTRALIA: Norfolk I., 1915 (A.M. Lea) (MCZC and possibly SAMA) [not seen]. [Junior synonym of gleadowi : Wilson, 1958: 329. Revived from synonymy and combination in Hypoponera : Taylor & Brown, D.R. 1985: 31. Junior synonym of punctatissima : Wilson & Taylor, 1967: 29 (in text); Taylor, 1987: 30.]
Ponera argonautorum Arnol'di , 1932: 66, figs. 6, 7. Holotype queen, RUSSIA: Black Sea Coast, Anapa, 26.viii.1925, Nr. 422 (K.V. Arnol’di ) (probably in ZMUM) [not seen]. Syn. n. (provisional). [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995b: 213.] (See note 8.)
Ponera mumfordi Wheeler , W.M. 1933: 141. Syntype workers, FRENCH POLYNESIA: Marquesas Is, Uapou; Kohepu (Tekohepu) summit, alt. 3000 ft, 3.xi.1931 (LeBronnec) (probably in MCZC) [not seen]. [Junior synonym of gleadowi : Wilson, 1958: 328. Junior synonym of punctatissima : Wilson & Taylor, 1967: 29 (in text).]
Ponera mesoepinotalis Weber , 1942: 44, fig. 4. Holotype worker, SUDAN: Imatong Mts, 2.viii.1939, 6400 ft, no. 1395 (N.A. We b e r) (not in MCZC, presumed lost) Syn. n. [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 215.] (See note 9.)
Ponera breviceps Bernard , 1953: 202, fig. 3A. LECTOTYPE dealate queen (by present designation) and two paralectotype dealate queens, GUINEA: Nimba (Lamotte) (MNHN) [examined]. Syn. n. [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 213.] (See note 10.)
Ponera ursoidea Bernard , 1953: 203, fig. 3C. LECTOTYPE worker-queen intercaste (not worker) (by present designation), GUINEA: Crête de Nion, 1300 m. (no collector’s name, probably Lamotte) (MNHN) [examined]. Syn. n. [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 216.] (See note 11.)
Ponera sulcitana Stefani , 1970: 1, figs. 1 – 12. Holotype worker; paratype workers, queens and ergatoid male, ITALY: Sardinia, Grotta dei Fiori presso Carbonia (A. Serra) (IZUC) [not seen] Syn. n. [Combination in Hypoponera : Bolton, 1995: 216.] (See note 12.)
NOTES.
1 Seifert (2003) refers to each of the punctatissima type-specimens he examined as a paralectotype. While there seems no doubt that the material originated in Roger’s collection and is type-material, no trace of a lectotype designation can be found. Therefore the two MNHN specimens examined here, and those recorded by Seifert as present in ZMHB and DEIC, revert to syntype status.
2 The BMNH ergatoid male has the data: “41b” and “ Ponera ergatandria Forel , male type, St. Vincent ” . This is certainly a minor ergatoid male of punctatissima (yellow, eyeless and with 12 antennal segments). In the publication, Forel (1893) gives the following localities for ergatandria , all of which are syntypes. 41a: Bowwood Valley, nr Kingston, 800 ft, 15.x.; 41b: Islet fronting Châteaubelais Bay, 31.x.; 41c: Richmond Estate, 31.x.; 41d: Villa Estate, south end of island, 14.x.
3 Wilson (1958: 328-329) recorded the names decipiens , kalakauae , mina and mumfordi as junior synonyms of gleadowi . In the text of Wilson & Taylor (1967: 29) all these names were transferred to the synonymy of punctatissima, but decipiens was later reverted to the synonymy of gleadowi by Onoyama (1989) following his examination of its holotype. These transfers of synonymy were inadvertently omitted from the Bolton (1995) catalogue.
4 The short history of the name aemula amply illustrates the confused nature of the early taxonomy of Afrotropical Hypoponera . When introduced, aemula was described as an infraspecific form of dulcis , now in H. dulcis group. At its next appearance (Santschi, 1914a: 53) aemula had become an infrasubspecific name attached to coarctata subsp. boerorum . The first of these names is now in a separate genus ( Ponera ) and boerorum is a member of the H. boerorum group. The first critical examination of the syntypes of aemula , by Seifert (2003), placed it firmly in what is now the H. punctatissima group, which is confirmed here.
5 In the original description of cognata, Santschi mentions three workers, with the data recorded above. Of these, two are normally mounted and the head of the third is mounted on a small perspex slide, without any remnants of its body. In NHMB are two more workers, also labelled as “types” but from “ Benguela, Caconda (Cruchet) ” . These are identical to the Cucula specimens, but because they were not mentioned in the original description they have no type-status.
6 The holotype of incisa is not among Santschi’s collection in NHMB. If it still exists it is probably in the Silvestri collection at Portici (DEUN), which is not currently available. The original description gives the holotype as a worker, but it seems most likely that it is really an ergatoid male of punctatissima . Characters noted or figured by Santschi that point towards this identification include: extremely short scapes (from the drawing SI ca 65; measured ergatoid males SI 68 – 72), coupled with worker-like mandibles; large, rectangular, worker-like head; metanotal groove sharp and deep; gastral segments somewhat enlarged. Unfortunately the apical gastral segments are missing from Santschi’s drawing, which may imply that they are absent from the specimen. But the description and figure suggest most strongly that the holotype is an ergatoid male of punctatissima . It is also interesting to note that on the same page Santschi (1914b: 320) recorded a queen of punctatissima , collected from the same locality as incisa .
7 The holotype of brevis is in reasonable condition but is flat-mounted on card and much of the lower and posterior petiole, and the base of the gaster, are obscured by glue. Several characters noted by Santschi in the original description and figures are misleading. For instance, the metanotal groove is not shown in his fig. 1c, but in the text it is stated as present and it is conspicuous on the holotype. The propodeum is not marginate between the declivity and the sides. The lower petiole is obscured not only by glue but by the position of the legs. However, the node in profile appears to taper slightly towards the apex and is not “ as thick at the summit as at the base ” .
8 Ponera argonautorum was provisionally described as new by Arnol’di , based on a single alate queen discovered flying in a garden at Anapa, on the Russian north-east coast of the Black Sea. Its holotype has not been examined but it seems obvious, from the description and figures, that this is a queen of punctatissima . It is provisionally synonymised here to draw attention to our opinion, until the holotype can be examined in detail.
9 Stefan Cover (MCZC) informs us that although the holotype of mesoepinotalis is noted in the MCZC typeregister, the specimen has disappeared from the collection and cannot be found. Weber’s description and figure are sufficient to place the name with considerable confidence as a junior synonym of punctatissima .
10 Bernard’s syntype series of breviceps consisted of four specimens mounted on two pins. The upper specimen on the first pin is a dealate queen of punctatissima , with its gaster detached and mounted separately. The lower specimen on this pin is a headless male of a small species of Leptogenys ; its pectinate pretarsal claw is clearly visible on the right foreleg. This pin bears three additional labels, as follows: “ Queen lectotype Ponera breviceps Ber. Designated by R.W. Taylor, 10 Aug. 63 ” ; “ Leptogenys sp. male det. R.W. Taylor, 10 Aug. 63 ” ; “ Synonym of Ponera gleadowi Forel . Det. R.W. Taylor, 10 Aug. 63 ” . On the second pin both specimens are dealate queens of punctatissima and bear a secondary label: “ Paralectotypes Ponera breviceps Bern . Designated by R.W. Taylor, 10 Aug. 63 ” . Taylor’s designations were never published and the lectotype designation is formalised here. The Leptogenys specimen is excluded from further consideration.
11 Bernard’s syntype series of ursoidea included three workers and a queen from Guinea: Crête de Nion (all on one pin) and a single worker from Guinea: Nimba (Lamotte) on a second pin. On the first pin the top specimen belongs to punctatissima but the two workers and the alate queen mounted below it are all dulcis . The worker on the Nimba pin is a specimen of dulcis that has the right side of its petiole scale damaged by indentation so that it is deformed. Bernard’s description contains a mixture of characters from both species. The first pin bears two secondary labels: “ Lectotype (top specimen with marked pin) and paralectotypes of Ponera ursoidea Ber. Designated by R.W. Taylor ” , and “ A synonym of Ponera gleadowi Forel . Det. R.W. Taylor, 10 Aug. 63 ” . The lectotype designationwas never published by Taylor and is now formally established here. The remaining specimens, all dulcis , are hereby excluded from the type-series. One small point remains: the lectotype is not a worker but an intercaste, as indicated by its larger than worker-sized eye and the presence of a mesonotal-mesopleural suture, a character absent from genuine workers of this species.
12 There is nothing in Stefani’s descriptions and figures of the various sexes and castes of sulcitana that separates it from punctatissima . The worker description and drawings (figs. 1, 6, 11) show nothing that would detract from this conclusion, and the worker LPeI ca 50, estimated from his fig. 1, is within the range of punctatissima . Stefani’s “apterous queen ” (his fig. 3) appears to be a normal dealate gyne, not an intercaste, as the mesosoma seems to have a full complement of flight sclerites. His description and drawing of the ergatoid male makes the synonymy confident as the specimen is said to have 12 antennal segments, worker-like mandibles and minute eyes. Some years ago, Prof. Cesare Baroni Urbani (pers. com.) said that he had tried to obtain specimens from Stefani several times, but without success.
WORKER. Measurements: HL 0.56 – 0.72, HW 0.46 – 0.60, HS 0.515 – 0.660, SL 0.35 – 0.48, PrW 0.33 – 0.43, WL 0.70 – 0.90, HFL 0.36 – 0.48, PeNL 0.14 – 0.20, PeH 0.30 – 0.39, PeNW 0.22 – 0.29, PeS 0.223 – 0.290 (60 measured). Indices: CI 79 – 87, SI 75 – 84, PeNI 63 – 74, LPeI 43 – 53, DPeI 140 – 165.
Eyes small but conspicuous, of 1 – 6 often poorly defined or partially fused ommatidia, located far forward on the side of the head. Impression that extends back along midline of head from the frontal lobes reaches at least the midlength of the vertex and usually further. Apex of scape, when laid straight back from its insertion, usually fails to reach or less commonly just touches the midpoint of the posterior margin in full-face view; SL/HL 0.62 – 0.70. Minute punctulate sculpture of cephalic dorsum extremely fine and superficial. Mesonotal-mesopleural suture absent. Metanotal groove deeply incised across dorsum of mesosoma; mesonotum with a well-defined posterior margin. Propodeal declivity rounds into the sides, without sharp marginations or carinae. In profile the anterior margination of the mesopleuron rounded to very bluntly angular behind base of anterior coxa; without a prominent sharp angle or tooth. Mesopleuron smooth and shining, at most with a few scattered punctures; usually with a small reticulate patch in the extreme posteroventral corner above the mesocoxa. Petiole in profile with the anterior and posterior faces of the node weakly convergent dorsally; node longer just above the anterior tubercle than at the dorsum. Sternite of petiole in profile a rounded lobe, without angles anteriorly or posteriorly. Maximum width of first gastral tergite in dorsal view less than the width of the second tergite at its midlength. Base of cinctus of second gastral tergite smooth and shining in dorsal view, without cross-ribs. Posttergite of second gastral segment, from posterior margin of cinctus to apex, much broader than long. Disc of second gastral tergite minutely punctulate, appearing weakly microreticulate in places. Full adult colour varies from dull brownish yellow to very dark brown or almost black. In general, workers at the bottom end of the size range given above tend to be lighter and the colour becomes darker with increasing size, but this is by no means an entirely consistent rule.
Apart from variations in size and colour, all the worker material of this widely distributed species is morphologically uniform and answers the description above. H. punctatissima is without doubt the world’s most accomplished ponerine tramp-species. Its range incorporates all tropical and subtropical zoogeographical regions, including most oceanic islands, and it also penetrates well into the temperate zones of both hemispheres where it is frequently synanthropic; for a brief synopsis of world distribution see Delabie & Blard (2002); European distribution is summarised in Seifert (2003). As well as the usual workers and alate queens, it also produces worker-queen intercastes (ergatoids) and dimorphic large and small ergatoid males, but never the usual alate male form. Because of its tramping ability, oddly polymorphic sex/caste system and the considerable confusion about the taxonomy within the genus, punctatissima has amassed an inordinately large synonymy. A glance at the synonymic synopsis above will illustrate how often intercastes and ergatoid males have been misinterpreted as workers of separate taxa by authors dating back to Roger (1859) and how often supposed infraspecific forms were incorrectly associated with other species.
In a recent analysis, Seifert (2003) reached the conclusion that punctatissima actually consisted of two species, punctatissima and schauinslandi , that were not distinguishable by standard morphology but could be separated by micro-morphometrics subjected to discriminant analysis. He concluded that punctatissima had the junior synonyms androgyna , exacta , jugata and tarda (of which only exacta had not been previously proposed as a synonym), and that schauinslandi was the senior synonym of aemula and bondroiti . He stated that he had examined type-material of all the available names that could probably represent punctatissima or schauinslandi , to ensure that no possible senior name remained unconsidered. Unfortunately, a quick glance at the synopsis above shows that many names associated with punctatissima remained unexamined for the Afrotropical region, that several synonyms proposed by Wilson & Taylor (1967) had been omitted, and that one name from the latter publication has the same date as schauinslandi . It is not surprising that Seifert failed to detect the Afrotropical relations as their identities could not possibly be assessed based solely on their often inadequate and frequently misleading original descriptions. Taken together, the Afrotropical type-material and the mass of other material examined here did not fall neatly into the two presumed species, or into any one of the two, which raises the possibility that either there are more than two extremely cryptic and virtually inseparable species currently confused here, or that there is only one somewhat variable genuine species present. The possibility remains strong that the discriminant functions applied by Seifert do not isolate discrete species, but rather indicate allopatric populations of the same species, or even different ecomorphs of a single species. The problem could not be completely resolved here, though the ecomorph possibility is favoured, so it was decided that the most parsimonious approach would be to regard all as a single species, under the earliest available name, until a complete analysis of all material, world-wide, becomes feasible. Whether this can be accomplished by morphometrics or must await a DNA analysis of various populations remains to be seen, but a dedicated study is certainly essential.
Therefore, at present, H. punctatissima workers are regarded as any specimen that possesses the characters of the punctatissima group (see introduction) and fits the description above. Its worker-queen intercastes are very worker-like but have larger eyes (usually 10 to about 20 ommatidia) and a developed mesonotal-mesopleural suture that is absent in the worker. Ergatoid males fall into major (larger, brown and with small eyes present, Figs 100 – 102) and minor (smaller, yellow and eyeless) categories (Yamauchi, et al. 1996) and are again very worker-like, especially in head structure, but have shorter scapes (SI 68 – 72), only 12-segmented antennae (as do workers, intercastes and queens), and of course fully developed but retractile male genitalia. Alate males have never been seen and it is probably now safe to say are never produced. True queens are alate, with much larger eyes (obviously>50 ommatidia) that have short setae projecting between the ommatidia, and have a full complement of flight sclerites on the mesosoma.
A closely related species, ragusai , has been confused (under the name of its junior synonym, gleadowi ) with punctatissima in the past (e.g. Wilson, 1958). H. ragusai has much the same sex/caste system as punctatissima ,including monomorphic ergatoid males which have 13-segmented antennae, as is most frequently the case in male ants. This species is very uncommon in the Afrotropical region and indeed seems rare everywhere. In general the worker of ragusai is small and yellowish. Its petiole in profile is lower and longer than in punctatissima and in dorsal view its petiole node is longer in relation to its width than in punctatissima . For detailed comparative notes see under ragusai .
One other Afrotropical species-rank name may also be a synonym of punctatissima , H. lea (Santschi) . Unfortunately, no type-material of this name seems to have survived and its identity has been rendered obscure. For the circumstances of this see under lea in the species inquirendae.
Finally, the small species described from Guinea as sinuosa by Bernard (discussed below) is also related to punctatissima and its allies. The single specimen of this species seems distinct from ragusai in the form of its petiole, but any revision of those two species should also reconsider sinuosa .
H. punctatissima is very widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa and appears relatively common. It is often retrieved from litter and topsoil samples in forests, and also from rotten wood, but it seems particularly frequent in areas disturbed by human activities, especially in gardens, plantations and crop fields.
Material examined. Guinea: Crete de Nion (Lamotte); Nimba (Lamotte). Ivory Coast: Bingerville (Mahnert & Perret); Banco (Delamare-Debouttville); Abidjan, Banco Nat. Pk (I. Löbl ); Monogaga (Mahnert & Perret). Ghana: Legon (D. Leston); Poano (R. Belshaw). To g o: Palimé , Klouto For. (Vi t). Benin: Porto Novo (Le Moult). Cameroun: Nkoemvon (D. Jackson); Mbalmayo (N. Stork); Mt Cameroun, Buea (Ross & Lorenzen); Victoria Div., Muyuka (B. Malkin); Prov. Sud, PN Campo (B.L. Fisher); Res. de Campo (D.M. Olson); Res. de Faune de Campo, Ebodjé (B.L. Fisher). Gabon: Makokou (I. Lieberburg); Prov. Woleu-Ntem, Minvoul (B.L. Fisher); Prov. Ogooue-Maritime, Res. Monts Doudou, Doussala (B.L. Fisher); Doudou, Doussala (S. van Noort); For. de Mondah, Cap Esterias (Bartolozzi & Taiti). São Tomé & Principe: São Tomé I., Obo N.P. (J.M. Ledford). Central African Republic: Dzanga-Sangha, Bayanga (B.L. Fisher); Dzanga-Ndoki, Lidjombo (B.L. Fisher); Dzanga-Ndoki, Mabéa Bai (B.L. Fisher). Democratic Republic of Congo: Elisabethville (Ross & Leech); Matadi (Ross & Leech); Lwiro Riv., Bukavu (Ross & Leech); St Gabriel (Kohl). Angola: Bruco (P. Hammond); Villa Arriaga (Ross & Leech); Benguela, Cucula (J. Cruchet); Benguela, Caconda (J. Cruchet). Ethiopia: Ilubador Reg., Buno Bedele (Sforzi & Bartolozzi). Rwanda: Rangiro (P. W e r n e r). Kenya: Shimoni (Alluaud & Jeannel); Likoni (Alluaud & Jeannel); Western Prov., Kakamega For., Udo’s camp (S. Maurer); Ekero (G. F i s c h e r); Western Prov., Mwanza (F. Hita Garcia); Kakamega For., Colobus (M. Peters); Kakamega For., Isecheno (F. H e r c h e n); Isecheno (R.R. Snelling); Isecheno Nat. Res., Kalunya Glade (R.R. Snelling); Western Prov., Bungoma, Nzoia (F. H e r c h e n). Uganda: Jinja (Ross & Leech); Kalinzu For., Bushenyi Distr. (S. Yamane). Ta n za n i a: Amani (Ross & Leech); Kilimandjaro, Kiboscho (C. Alluaud); Morogoro Reg., Mkungwe For. Res. (Hawkes, Bhoke & Richard). Zambia: Lusaka (W. H. Lange). Botswana: Serowe (P. Forchhammer). Zimbabwe: Bulawayo (G. Arnold); Umtali, Melsetter (R. Mussard). South Africa: Natal, Durban (F. B. M a r l e y); Durban (G. A r n o l d); Zululand, Eshowe (R.E. Turner); E. Cape, Mkambati Game Res. (B.L. Fisher); Cape Devon, Stellenbosch ( O’Brien & Marshall); Cape Prov., Oudtshoorn (B. Malkin); Cape Prov., Tsitsikamma N.P. (R.B. Kimsey). Comoros: Anjouan (Fisher, et al.); Anjouan, Ntringui (Fisher, et al.); Anjouan, Lac Dzialandée (Fisher, et al.); Moheli (Fisher, et al.); Grand Comore, Karthala (Fisher, et al.); Grand Comore, Grillé (Fisher, et al.). Mayotte I.: Dapani (Fisher, et al.); Mont Chongui (Fisher, et al.); Sohoa For. Res. (Fisher, et al.); Mont Benara (Fisher, et al.). Réunion I.: Le Port (F. B la r d); Mare Longue (Fisher, et al.); Les Makes (Fisher, et al.). Mauritius: Le Pouce Mt, Moka Range (Fisher, et al.); Cocotte Mt (Fisher, et al.); Pieter Both Mt, Moka Range (Fisher, et al.); Basin Blanc (Fisher, et al.). Seychelles: Alphonse I. (J. Gerlach). Poland: Opole Prov., Rudy (Roger). Germany: Berlin (Roger). Netherlands: Mijdrecht (P. v. d. W i e l). Italy: Sardinia, Villamassargia, Grotta dei Pipistrelli (S. Puddu); Sicily, Siracusa Prov., Pachino, Grotta Calafarina (B. Poldi). United Kingdom: England, Southsea (H. Donisthorpe); Oxfordshire, Oxford (E. Saunders); Oxford (P. Harwood); Middlesex, Old Ford (Bedwell); Hertfordshire, Waltham Cross (W. H. T u r n e r); Dorsetshire, Holt (P. Harwood); Kent, colliery below ground (no collector’s name); Yorkshire, Barnsley, Darton (no collector’s name); Scotland, Edinburgh (Godfrey); Glasgow (Min. of Agiculture); Wales, Cardiff (no collector’s name). Ireland: Co. Cavan, Coote Hill (J.H. Cole). Madeira I.: Praia Formosa pr. Funchal (Lindberg). St Helena I.: (Wo l l a s t o n). Canada: Québec (A. Francoeur). Hawaiian Is.: Kauai I., Lahue (R.C.L. Perkins); Oahu I., Honolulu (R.C.L. Perkins). New Zealand: Wellington, intercepted in quarantine, from Canada (no collector’s name). St Vincent I. (Antilles): Châteaubelais Bay (H.H. Smith).

Ward, P. S., 2005:
I [introduced species]

Wild, A. L., 2007:
Central, Concepción (ALWC, MHNG). Literature records: Central (Forel 1907b [as “ ergatandria ”]). [* = species not native to Paraguay]

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 37 times found in rainforest, 17 times found in montane rainforest, 7 times found in closed vegetation, 9 times found in banana field next to dry steam, 0 times found in Unknown, 0 times found in Anthropogenic, 9 times found in littoral forest, 7 times found in montane forest, 5 times found in coastal lowland rainforest, 3 times found in tropical dry forest on tsingy, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods or in the following microhabitats: 0 times Manual catch, 12 times EC28 Malaise trap, 4 times 9 MaxiWinks, mixed samples, 3 times 10 MaxiWinks, mixed samples, 7 times Malaise trap, 2 times 5 MaxiWinks, mixed samples, 5 times MW 50 sample transect, 5m, 5 times search, 1 times 4 MaxiWinks, mixed samples, 1 times 2 Maxi Wink, 3 times Winkler, ...

Elevations: collected from 1 - 1950 meters, 579 meters average

Type specimens: Lectotype of Ponera breviceps: casent0915475; Lectotype of Ponera dulcis aemula: casent0915194; Lectotype of Ponera punctatissima exacta: casent0915204; Lectotype of Ponera ursoidea: casent0915474; paralectotype of Ponera punctatissima: casent0915490; syntype of Ponera brevis: casent0915187; syntype of Ponera dulcis aemula: casent0915492; syntype of Ponera ergatandria: casent0902539, casent0915195; syntype of Ponera ergatandria bondroiti: casent0902540; syntype of Ponera ergatandria cognata: casent0915190; syntype of Ponera kalakauae: casent0902537; syntype of Ponera punctatissima exacta: casent0902538; syntype of Ponera ragusai sordida: casent0915206; syntype of Ponera tarda: casent0901973; syntype of Ponera ergatandria bondroiti: casent0907329, casent0907330; syntype of Ponera kalakauae: casent0907315; syntype of Ponera punctatissima schauinslandi: casent0903906; syntype of Ponera sulcatinasis durbanensis: casent0907325

(-1 examples)



See something amiss? Send us an email.
Enlarge Map