The Ants of Africa
Genus Paratrechina
Paratrechina longicornis (Latreille)

Paratrechina longicornis (Latreille)

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{link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Senegal (Formica longicornis, Latreille, 1802c: 113, worker; Formica vagans, Jerdon, 1851: 124, queen, "exceedingly common in the Carnatic"; André, 1881b: 60, male (from among Egypt, Syria and Palestine); Prenolepis longicornis Roger, 1863b: 10)
junior synonyms
currens (Paratrechina currens, Motschoulsky, 1863: 14, worker; synonymy Emery, 1892b: 166) from Russia (wrongly stated as Sri Lanka by Bolton, 1995: 313) found in hothouses for plants - no images on Antweb (October 2014)
gracilescens (Formica gracilescens, n. sp., Nylander, 1856a: xxviii, worker; Tapinoma gracilescens Smith, 1858: 56; synonymy Roger, 1863b: 10, & Mayr, 1865: 50, as Prenolepis gracilescens) from France, in the Jardin-des-Plantes, Paris - no images on Antweb (October 2014)
vagans (Formica Vagans N. S., Jerdon, 1851: 124, worker & queen; unresolved junior primary homonym of Formica vagans, Olivier, 1792: 501) from India - no images on Antweb (October 2014)
all forms described (see Bolton, 1995) .

Note - with a fresh specimen, I have elevated Paratrechina hagemanni to full species status (originally listed as subspecies hagemanni (Prenolepis longicornis Latr. v. Hagemanni n. var., Forel, 1901h: 65, worker) from Zaïre, Boma, collector Dr G Hagemann, in Bolton, 1995).


{Paratrechina longicornis}Latreille's (1802c) description is at {original description}; Jerdon's (1851) description of the queen is at {original description}; Nylander's (1856a) description of gracilescens is at {original description}; Nylander's (1856b) illustrated note is at {original description}; Motschoulsky's (1863) note on currens is at {original description}; André's (1881b) description of the male is at {original description}; Forel's (1901h: 605) description of hagemanni is at {original description}; Emery's (1910a) further description of specimens from Egypt, with illustrations, is at {original description}; Arnold (1922: 605) referring to specimens from Durban, South Africa, provided a translation of Latreille's (1802c) description; this with notes is at {original description} and, sexual stages, at {original description}. The line drawing is from Smith, 1947.

Roger (1863b: 10) gave the distribution of Prenolepis longicornis Latr., as Paris;  England, Kew; Madeira; Senegal; Guinea; Asien, Ceilon. Amerika, Chili, Kuba, Mejico.


Motschoulsky's (1863: 13) note on currens follows his description of the genus Paratrechina and the species P. vagabunda from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). He wrote no more than - "a second species a little smaller, more slender and of a paler colour on the alitrunk and legs is not uncommon in our hothouses on plants and I have named it Paratr. currens". The hothouses were in Russia (probably Moscow, where Motschoulsky lived). P. vagabunda he had given as TL 2.54 mm (1 line = 2.117 mm), HW 0.53 mm, subelongate, dark erect hairs, piceous, legs femora and tarsi testaceous white.

By comparison Nylander's (1856a: xxviii; and 1856b: 73) description of gracilescens, from hothouses in Paris, gave TL 3 mm. He compared it with Paratrechina vividula (Formica vividula) as noticeably different by its darker colour, the antennae more elongated, more slender and the scape without hairs, and lastly by the elongated alitrunk "uni en dessus", united above, presumably with an even shape, not waisted at the mesonotum as in the Tapinoma nitens of Forster and Mayr, 1853 (now Prenolepis nitens and outside the sciope of this website, but see http://www.formicidae.org/fs-images/results/taxonomy:120.790.791).

Thus, it seems to me the synonymy of currens and longicornis by Emery (1892b: 166) was a mistake. Emery, in fact, noted the P. currens observed by that author (Motschoulsky) in the hot houses of Europe seemed to = P. longicornis Latr. Note Emery wrote “mi pare” and not as he did for another species, “senza alcun dubbbio, identica” (without any doubt). The paler smaller species found in northern hothouses was most likely to have been Paratrechina vividula, described by Nylander (1846a) from hothouses in Helsinki and in Russia (which at that time included modern Finland).


Illustrations can be found on the Japanese Ant Color Image Database . From there the description - Total length of workers around 2.5 - 3 mm. Color brown to black. Easily recognised by the long, slender antennal scapes and the shape of the alitrunk. Head elongate. Mandibles narrow, each with 5 teeth. Antennae very long: scapes each exceeding posterior margin of head by 2/5 its length; without erect hairs. Eyes large, maximum diameter 0.3 times head length. Ocelli small but distinctly recognizable. Alitrunk slender, dorsum almost straight from anterior portion of pronotum to propodeal dorsum, the pro- and mesonotal dorsa weakly convex in profile. Metanotal groove slightly incised. Propodeal spiracles distinct. Head and gaster with abundant whitish, long erect hairs. Propodeum without erect hairs. Petiole low. Legs long. Hind femora and tibiae bearing suberect hairs with length almost equal to the width of the femora.

Queen TL ca 6.5 mm (Jerdon 1851).

Wheeler (1922) included West African records (as Prenolepis longicornis, from Guinea (Conakry and Kakoulima, F. Silvestri) and Nigeria (Lagos, F. Silvestri); plus many other records from sub-Equatorial Africa.

Note that the range of specimens that can be seen in the folders linked from the list of Oxford University Museum specimens ranges from quite pale brown to near black with a violet irridescence.


{Paratrechina longicornis}The photomontage is of a specimen from Chad, N'Djamena; 12°07'12" N 15°01'25" W; 307 m asl; King 36; collected by David King, 12.ix.2006.


{Paratrechina longicornis} The photomontage is of specimens collected in Cameroun; south-western tropical coastal forest area between Edéa and Campo (McKey Wolbachia project Cameroon 92) from Kribi (2°56' N 9°55' E, altitude 13 m, coastal), 15 April 2001, in herbaceous vegetation about 20 cm tall (garden of the Catholic Mission), moving feverishly.


{Paratrechina longicornis} The photomontage is of specimens from The Maldives, North Malé Atoll, Ihuru Island, 4°18'36"N 73°25'26"E, 2008, collected by Marco Aita. Collected foraging on the ground. Other images can be seen in the folder at - {original description}


{Paratrechina longicornis queen} The photomontage is of a queen from Iran, collected by Omid Paknia (ZMGU601).


Paratrechina longicornis queenPhotomontage of a queen, from Madagascar and determined by Forel, collated from http://www.antweb.org/specimen.do?name=casent01017970

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© 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
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