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Species: Paraponera clavata   (Fabricius, 1775) 

Download Data

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2020)

Formica clavata Fabricius, 1775 PDF: 394 (w.). Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

India (locality in error).
Combination in Paraponera: Smith, 1858a PDF: 100.
Senior synonym of Paraponera aculeata and material of the unavailable name Paraponera spininoda referred here: Latreille, 1802a: 207; of Paraponera tarsalis: Smith, 1858a PDF: 100.
See also: Brown, 1958g PDF: 205.
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, 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: 28 times found in montane wet forest, 16 times found in lowland rainforest, 7 times found in La Selva, 3 times found in CCL 300, 5 times found in CCL 840M, 4 times found in CEN 650, 7 times found in rainforest, 5 times found in tropical wet forest, 5 times found in wet forest, 4 times found in SSO 450m, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 8 times Sura, 5 times at bait, 3 times foragers, 4 times Malaise trap, 4 times Copa de arbol, 2 times blacklight sample, 3 times Sobre Vegetacion, 3 times SCH, 2 times on low vegetation, 2 times STR, 1 times on leaf, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 56 times Malaise, 48 times Fogging, 27 times Blacklight, 15 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, 186 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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