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Species: Paraponera clavata   (Fabricius, 1775) 

Download Data

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2021)

Formica clavata Fabricius, 1775 PDF: 394 (w.). Neotropic. Primary type information: Type-material: holotype (?) worker. Type-locality: “Habitat in India” (error). Type-depository: ZMUC. Type notes: 1) No indication of number of specimens is given. 2) Type-locality incorrect as distribution of this species is Neotropical. Mayr, 1862 PDF: 731, records material from Brazil, Suriname, and French Guiana. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Combination in Ponera: Latreille, 1809 PDF: 128; Latreille, 1818b PDF: 570.
Combination in Paraponera: Smith, 1858a PDF: 100.
[Combination in Camponotus: Mayr, 1884 PDF: 30 (error).].
Status as species: Christ, 1791 PDF: 507; Fabricius, 1793 PDF: 360; Fabricius, 1804 PDF: 410; Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, 1835 PDF: 188; Smith, 1858a PDF: 100; Roger, 1861a PDF: 19; Mayr, 1862 PDF: 731; Roger, 1863b PDF: 18; Mayr, 1863a PDF: 440; Emery, 1890c PDF: 42; Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 18; Emery, 1894l PDF: 47; Forel, 1895b PDF: 111; Forel, 1899b PDF: 10; Emery, 1904b PDF: 599; Wheeler, 1905c PDF: 120; Forel, 1907h PDF: 1; Forel, 1908 PDF: 340; Forel, 1909b PDF: 58; Emery, 1911e PDF: 27; Santschi, 1913h PDF: 33; Mann, 1916 PDF: 402; Wheeler, 1916c PDF: 2; Crawley, 1916b PDF: 377; Luederwaldt, 1918 PDF: 34; Wheeler, 1923a PDF: 2; Borgmeier, 1923: 52; Wheeler, 1925a: 2; Menozzi, 1935b PDF: 190; Santschi, 1939f PDF: 160; Brown, 1958g PDF: 205; Kempf, 1970b PDF: 324; Kempf, 1972b PDF: 181; Fernández, 1993: 253; Bolton, 1995b: 312; Wild, 2007b PDF: 38; Arias-Penna, 2008c PDF: 120; Bezděčková et al., 2015 PDF: 122; Feitosa, 2015c: 98; Delsinne et al., 2019 PDF: 637.
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):

Distribution Notes:

Throughout the wet Neotropics. Costa Rica: Atlantic slope wet forest, low elevations; extending to just west of Santa Cecilia in northern Guanacaste Province (Janzen, pers. comm.); absent from wet forest of southern Pacific slopes and Osa.


Natural History:

This is the famous "bala" ant, reknowned for its large size and powerful sting; workers forage arboreally at all heights in the canopy; nests are subterranean at the bases of trees, or occasionally in humus accumulations in the canopy; workers forage on live prey and extrafloral nectar; males are frequent at blacklights. There is a growing literature of behavioral and ecological studies of Paraponera.


Fabricius, J. C. 1775. Systema entomologiae, sistens insectorum classes, ordines, genera, species adiectis synonymis, locis, descriptionibus, observationibus. Flensburgi et Lipsiae [= Flensburg and Leipzig]: Korte, 832 pp.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Paraponera clavata   Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 38, (download) 38 21367
Paraponera clavata   Forel, A., 1909, Fourmis du Musée de Bruxelles. Fourmis de Benguela récoltées par M. Creighton Wellman, et fourmis du Congo récoltées par MM. Luja, Kohl et Laurent., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique 53, pp. 51-73: 58, (download) 58 4018
Paraponera clavata   Smith, F., 1858, Catalogue of the hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae., London: British Museum: 100-101, (download) 100-101 8127

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 30 times found in rainforest, 28 times found in montane wet forest, 3 times found in CCL 300, 5 times found in La Selva, 6 times found in lowland rainforest, 5 times found in CCL 840M, 5 times found in wet forest, 5 times found in tropical wet forest, 3 times found in CEN 650, 4 times found in SSO 450m, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 22 times Malaise trap, 6 times blacklight, 5 times at bait, 3 times foragers, 4 times Copa de arbol, 2 times blacklight sample, 2 times canopy fogging, 3 times Sobre Vegetacion, 2 times on low vegetation, 3 times ground nest, 1 times column on ground, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 56 times Malaise, 48 times Fogging, 27 times Blacklight, 20 times search, 10 times at light, 5 times baiting, 3 times hand collecting, 1 times beating, 3 times Sweeping, 3 times flight intercept trap, 2 times Pitfall, ...

Elevations: collected from 5 - 1070 meters, 188 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1907-11-01 and 2016-07-30

Type specimens: Holotype of Paraponera clavata: casent0913717

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