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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, 2015)

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
...

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Hypoponera punctatissima   Bolton, B. & Fisher, B. L., 2011, Taxonomy of Afrotropical and West Palaearctic ants of the ponerine genus Hypoponera Santschi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 2843, pp. 1-118: 86-92, (download) 86-92 23490
Hypoponera punctatissima   Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 39, (download) 39 21367
Hypoponera punctatissima   Ward, P. S., 2005, A synoptic review of the ants of California (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 936, pp. 1-68: -1, (download) -1 21008
Hypoponera punctatissima   Bolton, B. & Fisher, B. L., 2011, Taxonomy of Afrotropical and West Palaearctic ants of the ponerine genus Hypoponera Santschi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 2843, pp. 1-118: 14, (download) 14 23490
Hypoponera punctatissima   Collingwood, C. A., 1979, The Formicidae (Hymenoptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark., Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 8, pp. 1-174: 30-31, (download) 30-31 6175

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, 9 times found in littoral forest, 0 times found in Anthropogenic, 0 times found in Unknown, 7 times found in montane forest, 5 times found in coastal lowland rainforest, 6 times found in secondary forest, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods or in the following microhabitats: 0 times Manual catch, 12 times EC28 Malaise trap, 3 times 10 MaxiWinks, mixed samples, 4 times 9 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, 5 times berlese, 1 times 2 Maxi Wink, ...

Elevations: collected from 1 - 1950 meters, 577 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)



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