The Ants of Africa
SUBFAMILY PONERINAE - Genus Anochetus
Contents - Ponerinae - PONERINAE Introduction

Genus Anochetus Mayr (1861: 53)

In Tribe PONERINI

Diagnostic Features - Similar to Odontomachus but with the apical mandibular armament with the dorsalmost tooth acute and the petiolar node not ending dorsally in a spine. See Brown (1978c).

Anochetus Mayr (1861: 53; type species Anochetus ghilianii as Odontomachus ghilianii Spinola, 1851b: 55, by monotypy); junior synonym Stenomyrmex Mayr (1862: 711; type species Myrmecia emarginata, by subsequent designation of Wheeler (1911f: 173; type location Central America); synonymy by Brown (1978c: 552).

Mayr's (1861) genus description is at {original description}; and his (1896) definiton of the male at {original description}.

Brown (1978c) revised the genus and I have followed his synonymies and so-on. The revision is poor on descriptions, etc., and leaves much to be desired. For instance, one gets the impression that he paid little attention to the work of Bernard (1952). What little is known of their general biology was summarised by Brown (1978c). The colony size is of the order of 100 individuals, usually in cryptic sites - rotten or hollow twigs, under bark, etc. Some including pellucidus and fulginosus apparently are more or less arboreal. Most forage after dark, often widely, and all certainly are predaceous. If attacked their general response is to feign death. Probably all are predaceous, utilising a trap-jaw mechanism to seize prey and to "jump" backwards. Brown (1978c) regarded the genus as most likely having its origin in the Old World wet tropics, with arid-country species restricted to that global area. Brown's key is at {original description} and {original description}.

Examples of queens and males can be seen on Anochetus katonae, Anochetus pellucidus and Anochetus species Sevare


Key to workers of species from Africa
Developed from Brown (1978c); note CI = 100 X HW/HL but in my experience it is not a reliable index; HL in the key includes mandibles.

0 {Anochetus hisrutus nsp Cameroon FK}Wholly unique in having a dense covering of semi-decumbent fine pilosity all over, including the legs and scapes; inner margin of mandibles with two distinct edges; petiole with a moderately thick profile with a rounded apex, in front view the upper margin is weakly concave; TL ca 5 mm, eyes ca 0.27
Cameroun - Anochetus hirsutus nsp
1 {Anochetus siphneus}In full face view, antennal scapes fail to reach posterior margin of occipital lobes, eyes < 0.15 mm 2
-- {Anochetus africansu & sedillotti faces}In full face view antennal scapes extend beyond posterior margins of occipital lobes and/or compound eyes > 0.15 mm long 6
2 Anochetus talpaPetiole node in lateral view quite thick with near parallel sides; TL 3.5-3.9 mm; slightly reddish-yellow South Africa - talpa
-- {Anochetus jonesi petiole}Petiole node in lateral view strongly tapered from bottom to top 3
3 Petiolar node in lateral view with apex narrowly rounded (as preceding), puncturation of first gastric tergum fine and inconspicuous 4
-- {Anochetus siphneus petiole for key}Petiolar node in lateral view tapered to a sharp apex, puncturation of first gastric tergum usually coarse and conspicuous 5
4 {Anochetus jonesi anterior petiole}HL (including mandibles) > 1.50 mm; petiole in anterior view with narrow rounded apex; TL 4.5-4.8 mm; yellowish brown, alitrunk, antennae and mandibles reddish brown .
. {Anochetus jonesi anterior petiole} South Africa - jonesi
-- {Anochetus punctaticeps anterior petiole}HL (including mandibles) < 1.50 mm; petiole in anterior view with wide rounded apex; TL 3.7-3.8 mm; reddish-yellow, shiny .
. {Anochetus punctaticeps} South Africa - punctaticeps
5 {Anochetus siphneus}Eyes reduced to dots 0.10 mm or less in greatest diameter, filling half or less of the length of the orbital fossa; mesonotal disc straplike, about three times as wide as long; TL 3.9-4.4 mm; colour clear yellow .
. {Anochetus siphneus} West Africa & Gabon - siphneus
-- {Anochetus katonae}Eyes usually larger (0.07-0.12 mm long) filling more than half the length of the orbital fossa; mesonotum < 2.5 times as wide as long; TL 3.3-3.5 mm; colour brownish-yellow to dark brown, head often lighter .
. {Anochetus katonae} Pan-African - katonae
return to couplet 4 relatively long antennal scapes and larger eyes --
6 {Anochetus pubescens alitrunk}Upper surfaces of body with conspicuous uniform appressed or subappressed pubescence; standing hairs absent or extremely sparse 7
-- Upper surfaces of body with little or no appressed pubescence, standing hairs usually more abundant 9
7 {Anochetus pubescens petiole}Small, HL < 1.9 mm, with reduced eyes; petiole node a narrow tapering scale in lateral view; TL 4.9 mm; castaneous, gaster darker .
. {Anochetus pubescens} eastern Africa - pubescens
-- {Anochetus levaillanti petiole}Larger, HL > 1.9 mm, large eyes; petiole node a thick scale in lateral view 8
8 {Anochetus sedilloti}First tergite of gaster and most of rest of body smooth and shining; TL 6.0-6.5 mm; dull ferruginous, gaster darker northern savannah - sedilloti
-- {Anochetus levaillanti}First tergite of gaster with rugulose sculpture, rest of body dull, much striated; TL 5.2-6.0 mm; mostly rich dark red, gaster with basal segment castaneous and rest piceous to black east and southern Africa - levaillanti
return to couplet 4 Generally lacking pubescence --
9 {Anochetus africanus}Frontal striation of head distinct, prevailingly longitudinal and continuous to or very nearly to the nuchal carina in the middle 10
-- {Anochetus traegaordhi}Frontal longitudinal striation of head not reaching nearly to nuchal carina, the vertex largely smooth and shining 15
10 Gastric terga I and II completely glassy smooth and shining, only scattered puncturation; frontal striation always fine, seven or more striae/0.1 mm transect; head broad CI > 87 11
-- Gastric terga I and II with some reticulate, rugulose or dense punctulate sculpture; frontal striation of head coarse or fine, head varying in width, CI 80-89 13
11 {Anochetus obscuratus}Dorsum of pronotum smooth and shiny; black with head and appendages reddish .
. {Anochetus obscuratus} East & Central Africa - obscuratus
-- Dorsum of pronotum sculptured 12
12 {Anochetus africanus}Dorsal alitrunk with variable moderate sculpturation; eyes 0.18-0.26 mm long; TL 5.7 mm; castaneous but legs yellow .
. {Anochetus africanus} West Africa & Congo Basin, east into Uganda forests - africanus
-- {Anochetus natalensis}Dorsal alitrunk with fine superficial striation, pronotum near smooth; eye 0.27-0.28; TL 5.9 mm; head dark reddish-amber, alitrunk and gaster castaneous brown, legs paler South Africa - natalensis
13 {Anochetus bequaerti}Frontal striation of vertex fine and regular; head more or less red in colour, body darker; TL West Africa 4.6 mm, TL South Africa 5.3-5.5 mm .
. {Anochetus bequaerti} West Africa & Congo Basin - bequaerti
-- {Anochetus fulginosus face}Frontal striation usually coarse and uneven; head and body concolorous 14
14 {Anochetus fulginosus}Colour black or piceous, with brownish-yellow mandibles, antennae and tarsi; propodeum rugulose; TL ca 6.0 mm .
. {Anochetus fulginosus} pan-African - fuliginosus
-- {Anochetus pellucidus}Colour tawny-yellow, with lighter appendages, having a somewhat translucent appearance; propodeum usually densely punctate, opaque; rarely partly rugulose; TL ca 5.0 mm .
. {Anochetus pellucidus} West Africa & Congo Basin - pellucidus
return to couplet 4 --Head with short or no longitudinal striation --
15 {Anochetus faurei}Petiole elongate, with bidentate summit; TL 10 mm; pale to reddish pale brown .
. {Anochetus faurei} South Africa - faurei
-- Petiole summit unarmed 16
16 {Anochetus angolensis petiole}Petiole node in lateral view thick with rounded apex; eye > 0.35 mm long; TL 8.3-9.1 mm; dull brownish yellow .
. {Anochetus angolensis} Angola - angolensis
-- Petiole node compressed with level apex; eyes < 0.35 mm long 17
17 Anochetus rothscgildiPropodeum entirely smooth and shining; TL ca 6.0 mm; pale brownish or yellowish red, appendages yellowish North-east Africa west to Senegal - rothschildi
-- Propodeum sculptured 18
18 {Anochetus maynei}Petiole node in profile peg-like, anterior slope rounded, summit bluntly rounded, seen from above lunate, mostly dull yellow, trunk darker
Note this definition (Brown, 1978) is for workers that differ markedly from the type queen.
.
. {Anochetus maynei} West Africa & Congo Basin - maynei

Note: the separation that follows appears to be far from definitive with a considerable variation in form, eye size, pubescence, etc.

-- {Anochetus traegaordhi}Petiole node variable, anterior slope usually convex or straight, or if slightly concave summit strongly tapered; TL 6.8 mm; brownish red-gold .
. {Anocehtus traegaordhi} pan-African - traegaordhi
-- {Anochetus sudanicus}TL ca 6.5 mm; petiole node subtriangular with the summit narrowly but bluntly rounded; shiny brownish yellow, gaster slightly darker; with only very short inconspicuous pubescence and almost no erect hairs
.
. {Anochetus sudanicusi} Congo Basin - sudanicus
-- {Anochetus ghilianii}Eye small, length generally less than 0.20 mm
.
. {Anocehtus ghilianii cameroni} Spain, North Africa & Senegal (?) - ghilianii

Anochetus new species

Four specimens were found in two leaf litter samples from logged sites at Atewa Forest Reserve, Ghana (Belshaw & Bolton, 1994b).

Contents PONERINAE Introduction
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.

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