The Ants of Africa
Genus Odontomachus
Odontomachus troglodytes Santschi

Odontomachus troglodytes Santschi

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Kenya (Odontomachus haematodes (Linné), var. troglodytes, nov., Santschi, 1914b: 58, worker; André, 1887: 290, male; Arnold: 1915: 109, queen; raised to species by Brown, 1976a: 106, 167)
junior synonym stanleyi (Wheeler, 1922: 102, worker) from Zaïre
All forms known. Note - Wheeler (1922) had the type location of var. troglodytes as "Shimoni, British East Africa", which fits with the Santschi, 1914b, title) .

Santschi's (1914b) description is at {original description}. Arnold's (1915: 101) description of it as haematoda (?) is at {original description}. Brown's (1976a: 167) separation from haematodus is at {original description}.

{Odontomachus troglodytes} The photomontage of the type worker is collated from

{Odontomachus troglodytes} Nigeria specimens (Taylor 1976: 11) TL 10.0 mm, HL 2.41, HW 2.03, SL 2.22 and PW 1.08
Overall colour very dark red-brown, shiny with sparse pubescence. Alitrunk, especially pronotum and propodeum, with striated sculpture.

{short description of image} In Nigeria it is common in open or loosely wooded areas. Nests in rotting wood on the ground or in tree stumps or among the roots at the base of trees (right). It can be dominant throughout the cocoa growing area, on 1.0-2.5% of cocoa trees but only on lower trunk (Taylor, 1977; Taylor & Adedoyin, 1978). Earlier from the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Idi Ayunre, by Booker (perhaps on 1-2% of cocoa in collections from two cocoa blocks, W13/2 and W18/1, Booker, 1968). Often found ascending cocoa trees to tend aphids and assorted other Homoptera; activity includes tent-building, using coarse soil and debris. The tents (left) were frequently associated with cocoa black pod infections (Taylor & Adedoyin, 1981).

{Odontomachus troglodytes nest} Widely named in earlier literature as Odontomachus haematodus (L.), a forest ant of the lowland South American tropical forests or O. haematodes. On the basis of morphological characters there seems to be no easy way of differentiating the African species from its South American cousin.

Brown (1976a) gives almost no taxonomic information. Wheeler (1922) listed many African findings of "haematoda", from West Africa there was Senegal (Thiès, F. Silvestri), Guinea (Kindia, F. Silvestri), Liberia (Junk River, H. Brauns), Ivory Coast (Assinie, C, Alluaud), Ghana (Kitta, H. Brauns; Aburi, F. Silvestri), Nigeria (Ibadan, Lagos, Olokemeji, F. Silvestri; Oni Camp, W.A. Lamborn) and Cameroun (at ?, H. Brauns; Barombi, Freyer; Bibundi, Tessman; Yaundé, Zenker; Moliwe Region, Conradt; and, Victoria, F. Silvestri).

General life history was described by Colombel (1972), in Cameroun, where "a secondary habitat" involved nests in the heads of palms. Colony size was some 300-1000 workers, larger in good forest areas (see Brown, 1976b). Colony-specific nest marking was reported by Déjean et al. (1984).

Described as occasionally found on Ghana cocoa (as Odontomachus haematoda), probably as "chance migrants" from leaf litter, by Strickland (1951a). Emergence of alates was principally in September to November at CRIG, i.e. during the second wet season of the year (Gibbs & Leston, 1970). Evans & Leston (1971), further elaborated by Leston (1972), described its association with Homoptera on cocoa, including the habit of building tents of soil and vegetable matter, both thought to be the first reports of such behaviour in Ponerines. They regarded it probably as of savannah origin, straying into cocoa, particularly as it was not found in primary forest. Later found in cocoa leaf litter and nesting in dead wood on the ground at the Mampong Cemetery farm (Room, 1971); also from cocoa mistletoe (Room, 1975); and a single worker was collected by pyrethrum knockdown at Kade by Majer (1975, 1976b). Described as widespread (22 workers from 7 sites, 1991-92) in leaf litter in the semi-deciduous forest zone by Belshaw & Bolton (1994b).

In Guinea, Bernard (1952) noted that it (as Od. haematoda) was curiously almost absent from the Mt. Nimba massif. The only findings being from the Nimba, north-east forest litter, 4 workers (ix.1946, Villiers). The specimens were grey-black, with reddish thorax, and TL 9.5 mm.

Hall, Cushman et al. (1998) described how ant-tended homopterans indirectly benefit figs (genus Ficus) across southern Africa (Madagascar, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe). Among the ants was O. troglodytes found on 0.8% of sampled fig trees.

Collection details and album links for specimens sent to me are on Oxford Museum specimens.

{Odontomachus troglodytes} The photomontage is of a worker from Kenya, Mombasa, 03°58'S 39°45' E, elev 18 m.; nest in hotel lawn; 23.v.2000; David King.

{Odontomachus troglodytes}The photomontage is of a worker from Gabon, Pongara National Park; Pointe Wingombe, 00°19'336" N 09°19’102" E; pitfalls under forest; Gabon 51, 20.vii.2006; collector Yves Braet. 

{Odontomachus troglodytes}Photographed worker collected in Cameroun, south-western tropical coastal forest area between Edéa and Campo (McKey Wolbachia project Cameroon 48)

{Odontomachus troglodytes stanleyi} The photomontage is of a cotype of Odontomachus haematodus stanleyi from Zaïre. The original photographs, together with enlarged images, are from the MCZ, Harvard University, website at - MCZ link.

{Odontomachus troglodytes} The photomontage is of a queen from Botswana, collector David King (KIng 109).

{Odontomachus troglodytes} The photomontage is of a male from the Central African Republic, collector P Annoyer (CAR OT1).

© 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2018 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
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