Brachyponera sennaarensis (Mayr)
Iran list Egypt
Type location Sudan (Ponera
sennaarensis, Mayr, 1862: 721, worker; Santschi, 1910c: 350, queen
reported but not described; Forel, 1910c: 245, male reported but not
described; Pachycondyla sennaarensis
in André, 1890: 317; also in Collingwood, 1985: 241; genus revived by
Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014: 77) collected at Sennar
junior synonym sorghi (Ponera sorghi nov. sp., Roger,
1863a: 169, worker) from Sudan
all forms known (see Bolton, 1995, who had it in Pachycondyla Brown, new combination) .
With fresh specimens, I have separated off the much
lighter coloured and more slender forms as Brachyponera
decolor (Santschi) AND the dark form with an even profile to
the promesonotum, plus a series of moderate teeth on the inner
mandible, as Brachyponera
With fresh specimens from Mali, collected by David M
King, I have added a linked page to show associated workers, a queen
and a male - The
sexual stages. A separation point from the queen of P. ruginota appears to be the shape
of the eye which is ovoid in what I separate as sennaarensis and circular in ruginota, the eye of the latter
also has an impressed border whereas that of sennaarensis simply arises from the
surrounding area of the head.
Specimens from Iran, collected by Omid Paknia,
workers and a queen are on the linked page Specimens from Iran.
See also Specimens
from Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Schmidt & Shattuck (2014: 9) cite Déjean &
Lachaud (1994) as evidence for polymorphic workers in sennaarensis.
Although the many specimens (see my museum links) I have examined show
some slight size variation between locations, I have not seen any
polymorphism from a single collection.
specimens (as Brachyponera sennaarensis,
Taylor, 1976: 19). WORKER. TL 5.26 mm, HL 1.24, HW 1.40, SL 1.09, PW
0.93 (in my guide ).
Overall colour black, deep red-brown on appendages. Extremely finely
and densely punctate everywhere. Eyes quite large, maximum diameter
greater than the maximum width of the antennal scape. Mandibles with a
distinct oval pit or fovea on the dorsolateral surface. Promesonotal
suture distinct and metanotal groove deeply impressed. Propodeum
narrower in dorsal view than the pronotum. Petiole a thick scale.
Gaster weakly impressed between first and second segments. Workers from
colonies show variations in size, from poor nutrition areas TL 6-7 mm,
and from high nutrition areas TL ca 8 mm (Dejean & Lachaud, 1994).
Wheeler (1922), listing it as Euponera
(Brachyponera) sennaarensis had many African records, from West
Africa were Senegal (Dakar, C. Alluaud; Thiès, F. Silvestri), Guinea
(Conakry, Kindia, Kakoulima, F. Silvestri), Sierra
Leone (Samlia Falls, Mocquerys), Ghana (Kitta and Accra,
no collectors given), Nigeria (Ibadan, Olokemeji, F.
Silvestri) and Cameroun (Metit, Mbalmo to Ekeneli, G. Schwab).
Mayr (1879: 18) noted it as from Sennaar and Abyssinia.
Essentially a savannah species which penetrates
adjoining forest zone areas. Nests directly into insolated soil, and
forages on the soil surface. Arguably a granivorous species, see below.
Collingwood (1985, illustrated), reporting it from
Saudi Arabia, described it as a robust, dark coloured species. His
illustration matches mine. He added that it is an agressive species,
distributed throughout the African tropics, with Arabia probably its
northern limit. It "feeds mainly on dead insects but is also attracted
to sugary sunstances and food waste". It was studied in some detail by
Lévieux and Diomande, at Ferkéssédougou, Ivory Coast (Lévieux
and Diomande, 1978). They described it as probably the most common ant
in the Sudan savannah regions being found from Senegal right
across sub-Saharan Africa to Somalia, and right up to the southern edge
of the Sahara Desert at Tillabery in Niger, north of Niamey and
alongside the Niger River. To the south they described its range as
being brutally halted by the massif of the ebony forest. Its success
was attributed to its granivorous diet. The nest opens on to the
surface with a circular apertures, each 3-5 mm in diameter, around
which is piled debris from the diet and nest excavations. Foraging
openings some 2-3 mm in diameter, and perhaps 10 per m², permit access
from underground galleries over a total area of up to 600 m².
Dejean & Lachaud (1994), who studied the species in
Zaïre, described it as unique among ponerines in being partially
seed-eating, this being an adaptation to the dry areas which constitute
its main habitat. In the wet season, and in wetter habitats, animal
prey are the principal diet. In woodland areas, interestingly, the
workers are noticeably smaller than those of savannah colonies. On
balance they describe it as having a typically omnivorous diet, using
every available food source, including fruit and higher animal remains
where available, such as in the vicinity of human habitations. They
listed earthworms, coleopteran larvae, lepidopteran larvae, termites
and ants as the main prey.