|The Ants of Africa - Colour chart|
With the increasing availability of excellent photographs and my own examination of specimens from several countries, I have been able to make a colour chart providing the means of direct comparison between colours as described by original authors.
The chart is split into two parts to facilitate loading and display.
Essentially I have arranged the images, which are not to scale, vertically on the basis of yellow at the top left and black at the bottom left and horizontally with red as the modifying element increasing from left to right.
The colour reference is to the predominant body colour; appendages and extremities are commonly lighter; a few species are distinctly bicoloured.
I have included examples where sculpturation and/or pilosity modifies the appearance. A few examples show exotic subtleties, such as violoaceous, piceous, grayish, glossy, shiny, etc.
It should also be borne in mind that the intensity of illumination and the angle of that illumination affects the subjectivity of the observer.
Immature workers are commonly paler. In the case of polymorphic species, especially Dorylus species, have minor morphs which are much paler than the majors.
On a historic note, Forel (1886f: 141) noted that Latreille had the habit of attributing ants with darker colours than those of Mayr and later authors. Thus Latreille used black for ants he, Forel, and others would call brown, "marron" (chestnut) or "marron clair" for "rousses" or "roux un peu jaunatre", etc.
A crude analysis reveals that the palest species are cryptic in
their lifestyle, being either subterranean, plant inhabiters or
The darkest species tend to be those from deep forest, although some canopy inhabiters are paler.
Curiously the red modification seems most marked among species from eastern Africa, notable for its red lateritic soils (see below for examples).
© 2004, 2008, 2011 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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