The Ants of Africa
Genus Plectroctena
Plectroctena mandibularis F. Smith

Plectroctena mandibularis F. Smith

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location South Africa (Plectroctena mandibularis, F. Smith, 1858b: 101, illustrated, male & ergatoid queen) Port Natal - see below
junior synonyms
caffra (Ponera caffra Kt. M. B., Spinola, 1853: 70, nomen nudum, synonymy Roger, 1861: 41, all forms)
major (Plectroctena caffra Klug r. P. major n. stirps, Forel, 1894b: 74, ergatoid queen) from Mozambique, Delagoa, P Berthoud - see
integra (Plectroctena mandibularis Sm. var. integra n. var., Santschi, 1924a: 161, worker & male) from Kenya, Nairobi, Ch. Alluaud, 1904 - see
strialiventris (Plectroctena mandibularis Sm. stirps strigosa Em. var. strialiventris Stitz, in Santschi, 1924a: 162, worker) from Tanzania (Lake Tanganyika; wrongly given as "Malawi" by Bolton, 1974b & 1995: 338) - see
all forms described (Bolton, 1995) .

{Plectroctena mandibularis}Note - Plectroctena caffra Klug is referred to by Spinola (1853) whose paper dealt with Hymenoptera from Brazil, collected by Ghiliani, as caffra KL.M.B = Klug (J.C.?), Muse de Berlin. Emery (1982d: 556) defined P. minor (see below) by comparison with P. caffra giving an accurate illustration of the latter. Also Forel (1894) referred to P caffra, the name, however, is regarded as a nomen nudum by Bolton (1974b). In his Catalogue, Emery (1911d: 95, with the illustration) listed it as a synonym of P. mandibularis F Smith - Formica caffra (Klug) Spinola (1853) "pas de description". Thus, it seems the Klug description either was not published or was lost or the name simply was on a label of a specimen in the Berlin Museum.

{Plectroctena mandibularis}F Smith's (1858b) description is at {original description} Spinola's (1853) note on caffra is at {original description} Roger's (1861) note is at {original description} Emery's (1892d) description of minor makes extensive comparison with P. caffra; see {original description} Forel's (1894b) description of major is at {original description}. Arnold's (1915: 86) description of major is at {original description} and {original description}. Santschi's (1924a) description of strialiventris is at {original description}. Santschi's (1924a) description of integra is at {original description}. Bolton's modern description (1974b) is at {original description}

{Plectroctena mandibularis}{plectroctena mandibularis caffra}WORKER - large, TL 15.5-24.1 mm; separation as in the key (Bolton, 1974b: 326, not illustrated); illustration of pedicel from Emery (1892d, Plate 15). Bolton (1974b) wrote of males of conjugata having totally black gasters whereas those of mandibularis have red or orange-brown gasters. The images on at, if anything confuse the situation.

Note - included as Wheeler (1922) listed a finding from Cameroun, by Conradt (presumably at Mundame); apparently not detected by Bolton, who (like Wheeler) gave very many African locations in countries east and south of Cameroun.

Bolton & Brown (2002) added numerous findings from Botswana, Burundi, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania, strengthening the suspicion that it is not known from West Africa or the Congo Basin. Indeed, in their key, Bolton & Brown (2002) list only east and southern African countries.

Nests in soil, deep below the surface, with no more than about 50 individuals; feeds primarily on millipedes and beetles, also termites.

{Plectroctena mandibularis queen}The photomontage of a syntype ergatoid queen is collated from

Oxford University Museum specimens

Plectroctena mandibularis
B Taylor det.

South Africa
S Danflous

xx'x" S yy'y" E

iWestern Cape; z m; nest under a stone.

{Plectroctena mandibularis worker}The photomontage is of worker specimens collected from South Africa, Elandskrans, Western Cape; collector Sam Danflous.

{plectroctena mandibularis}The photomontage is collated from

{plectroctena mandibularis male}The photomontage of a male collected with workers is collated from

2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.