The Ants of Africa
SUBFAMILY MYRMICINAE - Genus Melissotarsus
Contents - Myrmicinae - MYRMICINAE Introduction

Genus Melissotarsus Emery (1877b: 378)


Diagnostic Features - Antennae 6-segmented with a 2-segmented club, scapes very short. Eyes well developed, noticeably longer than broad. Dorsum of alitrunk smoothly convex in profile, propodeum unarmed. Postpetiole very broadly attached to the gaster. Coxa of middle and hind legs very large. Basal segment of tarsi enlarged, remaining segments small.

Emery's (1877b) genus definition is at {original description}. Arnold (1916: 188) gave an annotated translation of the genus description; this is at {original description}.

Described by Bolton (1973a) as being uncommon, nesting under the bark of trees, usually some distance above ground, and rarely found outside the nest during the day. The extreme case of restricted nesting was reported by Delage-Darchen (1972) for Melissotarsus weissi which she studied (as titubans) in the Ivory Coast. Bolton (1982) synonymised Delage-Darchen's material with beccarii but in Bolton (1995) the synonymy was changed to being with weissi, see below. From examination of the written descriptions and illustrations the matter seems far from clearly resolved to me. The full text of Bolton's revision can be seen at {original description}.

Belshaw & Bolton (1994) noted that two species were known from Ghana, both of which tunnel in living wood.

Key to Afrotropical species (from Bolton, 1982):

1 {short description of image} Almost totally lacking erect hairs; head and alitrunk shiny reddish-brown, postpetiole yellow, gaster shiny black;TL 2.0 mm Benin - new species - tchibozoi
-- With quite abundant, fine erect hairs; essentially unicolourous 2
2 {short description of image}In dorsal view, anterior margin of pronotum rounding evenly into the anterior declivity; scapes strongly expanded apically; TL 2.3-3.3 mm; dull yellowish brown to dark yellow pan-African - beccarii
-- In dorsal view, anterior margin of pronotum with a sharp angle at transition to anterior declivity 3
3 {short description of image}Sides of alitrunk meeting dorsum in a fairly well defined angle, alitrunk colour reddish brown; head much narrower anteriorly; scapes widening progressively from about first quarter; TL 2.3-3.0 mm West Africa & Congo Basin - weissi
-- {short description of image}Sides of alitrunk rounding bluntly into the dorsum, alitrunk colour yellow to yellowish-brown; anterior margin of clypeus with a quite dense even row of fairly long fine hairs; TL 2.5-3.4 mm pan-African - emeryi
Contents MYRMICINAE Introduction
2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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