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Species: Hypoponera ragusai   (Emery, 1894) 

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Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2021)

Ponera ragusai Emery, 1894i PDF: 28 (w.) ITALY (Sicily). Palearctic. Primary type information: Type-material: 2 syntype workers. Type-locality: Italy: Sicily (E. Ragusa). Type-depository: MSNG. AntCat AntWiki

Taxonomic history

[Unjustified emendation of spelling to Hypoponera ragusae: Emery, 1911e PDF: 91.]
Santschi, 1907 PDF: 313 (q.eq.em.); Santschi, 1908 PDF: 519 (m.)
Combination in Hypoponera: Baroni Urbani, 1971c PDF: 18
Status as species: Emery, 1895n: 65; Forel, 1907d PDF: 2; Santschi, 1907 PDF: 313; Santschi, 1908 PDF: 519; Emery, 1909d PDF: 370; Emery, 1911e PDF: 91; Forel, 1912l PDF: 159; Emery, 1916b PDF: 54; Emery, 1916a PDF: 109; Wheeler, 1922: 782, 1010; Stärcke, 1926a PDF: 82 (in key); Kutter, 1927a PDF: 98; Finzi, 1936 PDF: 156; Wheeler, 1937c PDF: 59; Bernard, 1953b PDF: 199 (in key); Baroni Urbani, 1962 PDF: 129; Bernard, 1967a PDF: 88 (redescription); Baroni Urbani, 1971c PDF: 18; Collingwood, 1985 PDF: 239; Mei, 1992a PDF: 415; Bolton, 1995b: 216; Mei, 1995 PDF: 760; Poldi et al., 1995: 2; Dorow, 1996a PDF: 76; Collingwood & Agosti, 1996 PDF: 312; Espadaler, 2007 PDF: 117; Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowski, 2009 PDF: 498; Vonshak & Ionescu-Hirsch, 2009 PDF: 46; Collingwood et al., 2011 PDF: 408; Bolton & Fisher, 2011 PDF: 94 (redescription); Guénard & Dunn, 2012 PDF: 59; Hita Garcia et al., 2013 PDF: 220; Sarnat et al., 2013 PDF: 73; Borowiec, 2014 PDF: 83; Bharti et al., 2015 PDF: 47; Bharti et al., 2016 PDF: 51; Lebas et al., 2016: 404; Dias et al., 2020 10.3897/zookeys.967.54432 PDF: 110.


Hypoponera ragusai is a relatively nondescript small, shining brownish yellow to brown species with short antennal scapes and minute but conspicuous eyes. The species has often been referred to in the literature by its junior synonyms H. decipiens (Forel) and H. gleadowi (Forel), and has also been regularly misidentified as H. punctatissima (Bolton & Fisher, 2011). The native range of H. ragusai is in the Old World, and is conjectured to be of African origin (Wilson & Taylor, 1967). The current confirmed distribution includes Europe, Africa and India, though the actual distribution may be much wider. Like its close relative H. punctatissima, workers of the species are rarely collected and are likely restricted to the cryptobiotic subterranean and leaf litter habitats. It is likely that both species share a similar natural history. Taylor (1967)suggested that the production of ergatoid males by both H. punctatissima and its close relative H. ragusai (as H. gleadowi) may be related to their success as tramp species through some kind of simplification of nuptial activity. Although H. ragusai nor its synonyms are generally reported as a nuisance species, its pest status may require reevaluation in conjunction with its taxonomic status for material not examined by Bolton & Fisher (2011).

// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Africa: Algeria, Canary Islands, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Macaronesia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia, Zimbabwe
    Americas: Guadeloupe, United States
    Asia: Bangladesh, Borneo, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates
    Europe: France, Italy, Malta, Spain
    Oceania: Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Afrotropical, Australasia, Indomalaya, Malagasy, Nearctic, Neotropical, Oceania, Palearctic
  Native to (according to species list records):
    Palearctic bioregion

Distribution Notes:

Native range. Likely Africa. Algeria, Italy, France, Tunisia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Kenya, India.
Introduced range. USA: Hawaiian Is., Maryland. Japan, Taiwan, New Caledonia.
Unconfirmed range.  Seychelles, Saudi Arabia, Korean Peninsula.

The worldwide distribution of H. ragusai will remain uncertain until material of the H. punctatissima group is reexamined according to the taxonomic changes and identification suggestions prescribed in Bolton & Fisher (2011). For example, H. gleadowi was reported as occurring in India, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, Taiwan, Hawaii and the continental U.S.A. (Imai et al., 2003), but the specimens should be checked against H. punctatissima before the distribution is confirmed. Wilson & Taylor (1967) treated H. decipiens as a junior synonym of H. punctatissima, and the material they assigned to the latter species from across the Pacific must also be reexamined to determine whether any of it belongs to H. ragusai (as does the Hawaii material (Onoyama, 1989)). The species is not believed to occur in Fiji (Sarnat & Economo, In Press). The records from Seychelles (Dorow, 1996), Saudi Arabia (Collingwood & Agosti, 1996)also await confirmation (Bolton & Fisher, 2011). Although not examined by Bolton & Fisher (2011), Ponera gyptis Santschi (syntypes from Maryland, USA) was synonymized with H. gleadowi (Taylor, 1967) and subsequently with H. ragusai by the previous authors.  


Among introduced and commonly intercepted ants of the United States, H. ragusai is most likely to be confused with H. opaciceps and H. punctatissima. It can be reliably distinguished from the former by the antennal scapes which fail to reach the posterior head margin (versus 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. It can be separated from H. punctatissima by (1) the petiolar node, which in profile is relatively longer and shorter (LPeI 55–61 versus 43–53 in H. punctatissima); and (2) in dorsal view the petiolar node is relatively shorter from front to back (DPeI 120–140 versus 140–165 in H. punctatissima). According to Bolton & 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.


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.

Collingwood, C.A. & Agosti, D. (1996) Formicidae (Insecta: Hymenoptera) of Saudi Arabia (Part 2). Fauna Saudi Arabia, 15, 300-385.

Collingwood, C.A. & van Harten, A. (2001) Additions to the ant fauna of Yemen. Buchr. Entomol., 8, 559-568.

Dorow, W.H.O. (1996) Review and bibliography of the ants of the Seychelles (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Afr. Zool., 110, 73-96.

Espadaler, X. (2007) The ants of El Hierro (Canary Islands). In: Snelling, R.R., Fisher, B.L. & Ward, P.S. (Eds.) Advances in ant systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): homage to E. O. Wilson - 50 years of contributions. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute, vol. 80, Gainesville, FL, 690 p., pp. 113-127.

Imai, H.T., Kihara, A., Kondoh, M., Kubota, M., Kuribayashi, S., Ogata, K., Onoyama, K., Taylor, R.W., Terayama, M., Tsukii, Y., Yoshimura, M. & Ugava, Y. (2003) Ants of Japan. Gakken, Tokyo, 224 pp.

Mühlenberg, M., Leipold, D., Mader, H.J. & Steinhauer, B. (1977) Island ecology of arthropods. II. Niches and relative abundances of Seychelles ants (Formicidae) in different habitats. Oecologia, 29, 135-144.

Onoyama, K. (1989) Notes on the ants of the genus Hypoponera in Japan (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edaphologia, 41, 1-10.

Taylor, R.W. (1967) A monographic revision of the ant genus Ponera Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pac. Insects Monogr., 13, 1-112.

Tinaut, A. (2001) Hypoponera ragusai (Emery, 1895) a cavernicolous ant new for the Iberian Peninsula (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Graellsia, 57, 3-8.

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

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Hypoponera ragusai   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: 94-97, (download) 94-97 23490
Hypoponera ragusai   Espadaler, X., 2007, The ants of El Hierro (Canary Islands)., Advances in ant systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Homage to E. O. Wilson - 50 years of contributions., Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute, 80, pp. 113-127: 117, (download) 117 21278

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 1 times found in Lower Gariep Alluvial Vegetation, 1 times found in anthropogenic, 1 times found in Campo de Labranza, 1 times found in Prim. unlog. For., 1 times found in rainforest.

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times Under rock, near river, 1 times sous les pierres, 1 times playground, 1 times Nido entre raices de Higuera, 1 times ex. Rotten log, 1 times ex rotten log.

Collected most commonly using these methods: 3 times Hand, 1 times Hand collected, 1 times search.

Elevations: collected from 5 - 1889 meters, 481 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1887-07-07 and 2019-09-15

Type specimens: cotype of Hypoponera ragusai: casent0103117; Holotype of Ponera lesnei: casent0915493; syntype of Ponera gleadowi: casent0902562, casent0907310; syntype of Ponera gleadowi aethiopica: casent0907312; syntype of Ponera gleadowi decipiens: casent0902563; syntype of Ponera gleadowii decipiens: casent0907313; syntype of Ponera japonica formosae: casent0907314; syntype of Ponera oblongiceps: casent0902564; syntype of Ponera ragusai santschii: casent0903907; type of Ponera gleadowi decipiens var. sauteri: focol0362, focol0363; type of Ponera japonica. r. formosae: focol0361

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