The Ants of Africa
Genus Crematogaster
Crematogaster (Crematogaster) tricolor Gerstäcker

Crematogaster (Crematogaster) tricolor Gerstäcker

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Mozambique (Gerstäcker, 1859: 263, worker; Forel, 1887: 388, queen & male; Arnold, 1920a: 489 - see below .

Gerstäcker's (1859) description of tricolor is at {original description}. It was translated and illustrated (above right) by Arnold (as a race of castanea, 1920a: 489) and is at {original description} and {original description}. Forel's (1887) description of the male and queen is at {original description}. Santschi (1926b) deals with several varieties, these are at {original description}.

With the availability of photographs of the type specimens and the fresh material from Tanzania (bottom), which shows the brightness of the tricolouration, I have restored tricolor to its original species status. It clearly differs in a number of ways, not least the distinctive colouration from Crematogaster (Cr.) castanea under which it has been subjugated for so long.

{Crematogaster tricolor}The forms listed by Bolton (1995: 150) as pertaining to castanea but fairly obviously variations of tricolor are listed below.

From Bolton's listing, the synonymization of tricolor under castanea, was due to Mayr (1907b:16), followed by Emery (1915g: 12) and Wheeler (1922: 830); however Bolton also has - "revived from synonymy as variety/subspecies of castanea" - Arnold (1920a: 489), Emery (1922e: 145) and Santschi (1926b: 213). This frankly added confusion to an already confused state.

In fact, Mayr (1907b) listed tricolor with castanea and arboreus as junior synonyms. Emery (1915g) reported how it had been determined by W C Crawley, of the British Museum, that the F Smith name castanea was published on 28 March 1858, giving it priority over the publication of tricolor by Gerstäcker on 12 April the same year - 1858 - not 1859 as in Bolton's reference list. Therefore, Emery declared the various synonyms of tricolor had to be regarded as synonyms of castanea; apparently attributing the list to Forel's subspecies ferruginea (1892e). But that was described by Forel as a distinct species [more like castanea in colouration]. According to Arnold (1920a), Mayr (1896) appears to have synonymized arborea with tricolor. Arnold himself added "(=castanea, Smith, race tricolor Gerst.)". Wheeler (1922a: 830) merely listed all the forms under castanea but gave no arguments for or against the synonymization.

Emery (1922e: 145) was solely a listing of all the castanea and tricolor varieties etc. under castanea. Santschi (1926b: 213) in the nearest thing to a definitive statement noted; on castanea - "I think to limit to this species the forms where the pronotum is frankly flat and distinctly bordered (as seen in front view); on tricolor, he continued "I consider as a variety tricolor Gerst. with the head and the alitrunk distinctly more red and with a paler base to the gaster than " la var. castanea type", where this base is dark (obscure rufo-fuscous, as written by F Smith). The sculpture is identical.

Forel (1911f) reported inversa and castanea, both as varieties of inversa, from Zaïre, Kasai, Kondué by Luja.Wheeler (1922) writing on analis and flaviventris noted - "This and the following are merely color varieties of an extremely variable and widely distributed African and Malagasy species formerly known as C. tricolor Gerstecker". Santschi (1935b) also saw several forms from Zaïre:- busschodtsi from Kisantu, Banana (from whence the type) and Congo la Lemba; noting that this variety has black brown antennae, darker than the head; inversa has these the same. Also busschodtsi strain emacerata (unavailable name according to Bolton, 1995) with propodeal spines as short as those of the ssp adusta; and, flaviventris from Kasai (Dumbi).

{Crematogaster tricolor type}The photomontage of the tricolor type specimen is collated from

The various subspecies and varieties of tricolor and the possibly separate species ferruginea, the type of which appears to be more or less uniform reddish-brown, are given below

aquila from Kenya (Cremastogaster ferruginea Forel var aquila n var, Forel, 1907c: 139, worker; Santschi, 1914b: 87, male). Forel's description is at {original description}. No images on Antweb (December 2014).

busschodtsi from Zaïre (C. tricolor Gerst. var. Busschodtsi n. var., Emery, 1899e: 487, worker; Santschi, 1930a: 64, queen & male - noted by Santschi, 1935a, as actually variety inversa) collected at Banana, by Busschodts . Emery's (1899e) description is at {original description}. Santschi (1935a: 257) noted this variety has antenna which are brown black and much darker than the rest of the head. No images on Antweb (December 2014).

{Creamtogaster castanea} ferruginea from Somalia (as n. sp., Forel, 1892e: 353, worker). Forel's description is at {original description}. See

{Crematogaster (Cr.) castanea flaviventris} flaviventris from Zaïre (as n. sp., Santschi, 1910c: 370, all forms) collected at Sankuru, by Luja. Santschi's description (1910c) of flaviventris and analis is at {original description}.

The photomontage of flaviventris is collated from

hararica from Ethiopia (Crematogaster ferruginea v hararica n. var, Forel, 1894b: 97, worker). Forel's description (1894b) of hararica is at {original description}. See

inversa from Kenya (Crematogaster tricolor var inversa n var, Forel, 1907g: 81, worker; Emery, 1912c: 2, queen & male; Santschi, 1930b: 69, queen & male). Forel's (1907g) description is on {original description}. Emery's description (1912c) of inversa queen & male is at {original description}. See

museisapentiae from "Tropical East Africa" (Crematogaster ferruginea Forel subsp. museisapentiae n. subsp, Forel, 1911e: 272, all forms). Forel's description (1911e) of museisapientiae is at {original description}. No images on Antweb (December 2014)

rufimembrum from Tanzania (Crematogaster tricolor Gerst. st(irps) rufimembrum n. st., Santschi, 1914a: 431, worker) see Santschi (1926b) - see

ulugurensis from Tanzania (Crematogaster ferruginea Forel v. ulugurensis n.var., Forel, 1911d: 369, worker; Santschi, 1914b: 86, queen & male) Uluguru Mountains and Morogoro, collected by Zimmer. Forel (1911d) noted ulugurensis as similar to but darker than harrarica; TL 3.5-5.2 mm; reddish brown, with the gaster more yellow red, legs and antennae brown; head subopaqe and very densely longitudinally striate; pronotum finely reticulo-punctate and coarsely reticulate or rugose with several irregular fossae. See - may be a variety of castanea.

yambatensis from Zaïre (Crematogaster ferruginea Forel v. yambatensis n.var., Forel, 1913h: 353, worker) collected at Yambata, by R. Mayné. Forel (1913h) noted yambatensis as like ulugurensis but with the body and appendages wholly black but the gaster yellow; also with the alitrunk finely and very densely sculptured, holotype worker only - see

calychroa from Tanzania (Crematogaster (Acrocoelia) castanea Sm. st. rufimembrum Sants. v. calychroa n. var., Santschi, 1926b: 214, worker). See Santschi (1926b). See -

elgona from Kenya (Crematogaster (Acrocoelia) castanea Sm. st. inversa Forel, var. elgona, nov., Santschi, 1935b: 269, worker).Santschi's description is at {original description} - see

tanganikana from Tanzania (Crematogaster (Acrocoelia) castanea Sm. st. bruta Sants. var. tanganikana n. var., Santschi, 1926b: 214, worker). See Santschi (1926b). See

Oxford University Museum specimens

Crematogaster (Crematogaster) tricolor
B Taylor det.
G McGavin
tree 2-15

4°02.37' S
37°49.34' E
pkd collection from Grewia sp

Crematogaster (Crematogaster) tricolor
B Taylor det.
G McGavin
tree 3-66

3°57.996' S
37°48.128' E
pkd collection from Lannea schweinfurthii
Crematogaster (Crematogaster) tricolor
B Taylor det.
King 114

Xakanaxa Camp
19.11.01 S
23.24.30 E
961 m
Forest next to marshland
Foraging on outdoor manmade log structure


{Crematogaster tricolor}The photomontage is of a specimen from Tanzania, Mkomazi Game Reserve; collector G McGavin (tree 2-15).

{Tapinoma acuminatum}The photomontage is of a specimen from Tanzania, Mkomazi Game Reserve; collector G McGavin (tree 3-66).

{Crematogaster tricolor}The photomontage is of a specimen from Namibia, Xakanaxa Camp, collector D M King (King 114).

© 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.