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SUBFAMILY PONERINAE - Genus Pachycondyla - Pachycondyla (Brachyponera) sennaarensis (Mayr)

Pachycondyla (Brachyponera) sennaarensis (Mayr)

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Sudan (Ponera sennaarensis, Mayr, 1862: 721, worker; Santschi, 1910c: 350, Santschi, 1910c: 350, queen reported but not described; Forel, 1910c: 245, male reported but not described) collected at Sennar; subspecies decolor (Santschi, 1921c: 114, worker) from Senegal, at Ferlo, by Claveau; and ruginota (Stitz, 1916: 372, worker) from Cameroun, collected at Yaundé, by von Sommerfeld; junior synonym sorghi (Ponera sorghi, Roger, 1863a: 169, worker) from Sudan; all forms known (see Bolton, 1995) .

Mayr's (1862) description is at {original description}. Roger's (1863a) description of sorghi is at {original description}. Arnold (1915: 72) gave a translation, this is at {original description} and, male & queen, {original description}. Santschi's (1921c) description of decolor is at {original description}.

{Pachycondyla sennaarensis} WORKER - specimens from Nigeria (drawn by me) - TL 5.26, HL 1.24, HW 1.40, SL 1.09, PW 0.93
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.

{Pachycondyla sennaarensis}The photomontage is of specimens collected in Sudan by Awatif Omer, 2006, from Alrhad, South Kordofan province. Other images can be seen in the folder at - {original description}.

Egypt records - under junior synonym sorghi Roger - Donisthorpe (1942a), two males from Siwa & one from Maragi, collector J Omer-Cooper.

Essentially a savannah species which penetrates adjoining forest zone areas. Nests directly into insolated soil, and forages on the soil surface. 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.

{Pachycondyla sennaarensis}The photomontage is of specimens collected in Saudi Arabia by Mostafa Sharaf. 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". Other images can be seen in the folders at - {original description}.

{Pachycondyla sennaarensis}The photomontage is of specimens collected in Qatar by Mostafa Sharaf. Other images can be seen in the folders at - {original description}.

©2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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