The Ants of Africa
SUBFAMILY FORMICINAE - Genus Anoplolepis
Contents - Formicinae - FORMICINAE Introduction

Revised after Bolton (2003: 267) - separating Anoplolepis as previously understood into two separate genera Anoplolepis (in Tribe Lasiini; with Zealleyella as a junior synonym) and Tapinolepis (in Tribe Plagiolepidini; with Mesanoplolepis as a junior synonym).

Bolton's prime separation points are :-
Anoplolepis - mandible with 6-9 teeth, when closed not concealed by clypeus; dorsum of head behind clypeus with erect stout setae; eye behind mid-length of head, and anterior arc of torus around eyes posterior to and not touching clypeal margin; ocelli absent (sometimes one median ocellus in largest workers); metatibia with a large distinct apicoventral spur, with a coarse seta on each side; anterior face of gaster without distinct concavity.
Tapinolepis - mandible with 5 teeth, when closed mostly concealed by clypeus; dorsum of head behind clypeus without erect stout setae; eyes set variably around midlength of head but anterior arc of torus around eyes touching and slightly indenting clypeal margin; three ocelli distinct; metatibia with a divergent pair of large coarse setae on each side, no median spur; anterior face of gaster with distinct cavity, into which the petiole fits when alitrunk and gaster in horizontal alignment.

Link to Tapinolepis page.


Genus Anoplolepis (Santschi, 1914b: 123)

The genus was originally described as a subgenus of Plagiolepis by Santschi (1914b: 123), raised to genus by Emery (1925b: 16), it appears as a full genus in Bolton (1994, 1995), but was not separated in Bolton (1973a). Most were originally placed in Formica or Plagiolepis.

The original separation of Anoplolepis as a subgenus of Plagiolepis (Santschi 1914b) appears to be a main ground of having the metanotum indistinctly defined or obsolete (Arnold, 1922: 578-93). This feature was shared by two subgenera -
Anoplolepis (Santschi, 1914b) with the meso-metanotal suture obsolete, the metanotum-propodeum suture very feeble; dorsum of propodeum not very convex, not higher or only slightly higher than the mesonotum; head hardly narrower in front than behind; monomorphic, although in some, if not all species, some workers are used as honey-storage vessels and have the abdomen grossly distended.
Zealleyella Arnold (1922: 578-9) with the metanotum small, much smaller than the mesonotum, from which it is feebly delimited; propodeum convex and higher than the metanotum; large species often polymorphic.

Emery (1925b) separated Tapinolepis - with one species from South Africa and one from Ethiopia. Santschi (1926a) clarified and restated his definitions of the Genus and the subgenera Anoplolepis, Zealleyella, Mesanoplolepis and Tapinolepis. These are at {original description}; together with a note on Mesanoplolepis he added later (1930b - as to the subgenus having repletes but, unlike Zealleyella, not different morphs in terms of head shape. All but one of the Mesanoplolepis species are from eastern Africa, the odd one is from North Africa.

Bernard (1952) noted an unlabelled queen from Guinea (among the Mt. Nimba survey collection?), probably of the sub-genus Mesanoploplepis Santschi, of which queens were very poorly known. Bolton (1995) listed five species regarded as of this subgenus, all except Anoploplepis simulans (type location Tunisia) have type locations in southern Africa. Also it is only simulans of which the workers, males and queens are known. The South African species trimenii is known by workers and queens.

Typically, as in others of his generic revisions, Bolton synonymises subgenera and then creates species-groups, in this instance, under Anoplolepis, he wrote of the gracilipes group (being monomorphic) and the custodiens group (polymorphic).


Provisional key to workers from all Africa (based primarily on historical sources)

1 {Anoplolepis custodiens}Polymorphic; major workers with distinct ocelli, none in minors; major workers with distinct metanotum; petiole with erect scale, usually with distinct lateral vertical margination Anoplolepis subgenus Zealleyella - 2
-- {Anoplolepis tenella profile} Monomorphic and without ocelli; first four segments of funiculus subequal; petiole with a thick erect scale Anoplolepis subgenus Anoplolepis - 4
return to key Anoplolepis subgenus Zealleyella -
Anoplolepis nuptialis queenQueen & male only known - type image available
South Africa - nuptialis
Anoplolepis samori queenQueen only known; TL ca 11.0 mm, HW 1.85, HL 1.7, SL 2.0, CI 106, SI 106; clypeus with a sharp median carina; without dense pubescence
Central African Republic -  samori new species 
2 {Anoplolepis custodiens}TL (major) 9.0-9.5 mm; head large and wide (HW 2.2 mm), rounded and impressed posteriorly; propodeum with the dorsum relatively shallowly convex and less convex and wider than others, declivity near flat, even slightly concave between the spiracles; entire body is sculptured with fine rugosity, densely packed giving a shagreened appearance; mandibles are strongly longitudinally striate; whole body covered in decumbent pubescence, greyish yellow, giving a remarkably silky appearance, on gaster dorsum pubescence forms five evenly separated longitudinal lines, running almost the entirety of the gaster, one forming a median line; strong sparse erect hairs on all parts of the body, more abundant on the posterior of the gaster, the anterior of the clypeus and the mandibles; colour blood red, with a slight brown tint; internal border of mandibles, apex of antenna, frontal carinae, apex of petiole and gaster brown to near black .
. {Anoplolepis custodiens} Eastern & southern Africa - custodiens
-- Without a distinctive covering of silky pubescence 3
3 {Anoplolepis rufescens}TL 3.3 (minor)-6.0 mm (major); scape surpasses occiput by one-third of its length; head quadrate, sides moderately convex, posterior angles slightly rounded and occiput straight; sculpturation fine and overall shiny; erect pilosity yellowish, fairly dense on head and alitrunk; major colour pale chestnut brown, genae yellowish, appendages lighter South Africa - rufescens
-- Colour generally darker; scapes surpass occiput by no more than one-third of own length and much less so in majors 3
-- Anololepis fallaxWith spaced out pale pubescence South Africa - fallax
-- Anololepis parsonsiPossibly synonymous with fallax; major TL ca 5 mm, minor TL ca 3.0 mm South Africa - parsonsi
-- {Anoplolepis steingroeveri}TL 2.7-7.0 mm; scape surpasses occiput by less than one-third its own length; propodeum relatively short with high convexity, petiole scale quite thin; head densely punctate-rugulose, alitrunk superficially rugulose; without silky pubescence; colour dark rusty-reddish brown Southern Africa - steingroeveri
return to key Anoplolepis subgenus Anoplolepis -
Queen only known; TL 9 mm, HW = HL 1.7; alirunk dorsum with longer and more abundant erect hairs than P. custodiens Gabon - opaciventris
4 {Anoplolepis gracilipes}TL 3.8-4.2 mm; slender with scapes longer than body; legs also long and slender, posterior pair one-third longer than whole ant; pale erect hairs sparse; colour rufous-testaceous, gaster darker, appendages pale .
. {Anoplolepis gracilipes} Only Zanzibar in Africa - gracilipes
-- Generally stockier without obvious elongation 5
5 {Anoplolepis tenella}TL 3.2-3.5 mm; head distinctly narrower anteriorly; mandibles finely striate; dorsum of propodeum rounded, declivity flat, slightly concave basally and twice as long as dorsum, with a distinct angle at junction of dorsum and declivity; head and alitrunk densely and finely punctate, matt; gaster microscopically reticulate, with a silky appearance; rust coloured, pointed, erect hairs quite long on head and gaster; colour testaceous yellow, gaster brown .
. {Anoplolepis tenella} West Africa & Congo Basin - tenella
-- {Anoplolepis carinata}TL 3.5-3.75 mm; head evenly ovoid, as long as wide, sides arcuate, and posterior angles strongly rounded, giving the head the shape of a rounded square; large eyes set posterior of the mid-point of the head; clypeus distinctly carinate, anterior border with a median obtuse angle; mandibles smooth; propdeum profile with convex dorsum rounding smoothly into the weakly concave declivity; petiole scale high but cuneiform, with a rounded dorsal profile; apparently with much more numerous erect hairs than the other species; head and alitrunk matt due to dense microscopic puncturation; more superficial on the gaster; colour testaceous yellow, head and gaster slightly darker, appendages paler. West Africa & Congo Basin - carinata
Contents Subfamily Formicinae
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.

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