Tetraponera ambigua (Emery)
Type location South
Africa (Sima ambigua n. sp., Emery, 1895h: 23, worker &
queen; Forel, 1910f: 5, male; in Tetraponera, Wheeler, 1922:
796) collected at Hamman's Kraal - see below
subspecies rhodesiana (Sima
ambigua em. r. Rhodesiana
n. stirps, Forel, 1913a:
112, worker; Arnold, 1916: 187, queen) from Zimbabwe, Palm
tree, collector G Arnold - see below
worker and queen described (see Bolton, 1995) .
states "mesonotum weakly convex and not separated
from anterior margin of propodeum by prominently raised metanotal
spiracles". Both Stitz (1917) in his drawing of occidentalis,
and Santschi (1930b), in his description of angolensis have
these spiracles as prominent.
Unfortunately, Ward did not indicate the source of the
specimen shown in his drawing and his map shows many records that bear
no relation to his list of material examined nor anything else in his
Tentatively, I have separated occidentalis (ambigua
race erythraea var. occidentalis Stitz 1917: 336;
Menozzi, 1934: 154, worker) from Algeria to subspecies of Tetraponera
erythraea, as having a wider, oval postpetiole. Moreover, if occidentalis
is a genuine subspecies of ambigua, the distribution in North
Africa is strange; Menozzi (1934) wrote of the finding in southwest
Algeria, plus his record of its collection in Libya (Cirenaica, by
Professor L di Caporiacco) as being of the form typical of southern
Ward's drawing shows roughened patches on the lateral
occipitum and prominent erect hairs on the sides of the head; these are
not shown or mentioned by Santschi (1930) of angolensis.
Santschi's description of angolensis has no roughened patches
on the occipitum, no lateral erect hairs on the head, indeed very few
erect hairs at all, a more rounded propodeum amd a lower petiole. It is
distinctly smaller than the specimen in Ward's illustration, for which
he gave no origin, and has the darkened posterior to the gaster
mentioned by Santschi, plus the narrow frontal area shown by Santschi.
There appear to be five distinct teeth on the mandible as opposed to
four for Ward's ambigua (also in Arnold's note on rhodesiana).
I feel justified in elevating angolensis to full
species status - Tetraponera
As Ward states he examined syntype workers of angolensis
and erythraea (but not occidentalis)
I surmise that he
followed the style of Bolton, in "lumping" the ancient "varieties,
subspecies and stirps", mostly attributable to Forel and Santschi. The
converse, however, is that, at least by Bolton, other species have been
erected on quite small characteristics. My experience with a wide range
of fresh material is that Santschi was remarkably accurate in
separating his "stirps" but was influenced by his mentor, Forel, and so
was reluctant to designate new species. Ward's text has the drawing
labelled (South Africa) but it does not match the type worker shown
below. Comparision shows that it matches the type worker of T. erythraea, including the
abundance of erect hairs on head and alitrunk dorsum.
April 2015 - the
availability of type images shows neither ambigua nor rhodesiana
to have more than sparse quite short erect hairs on the alitrunk dorsum
or head; also quite distinct is the angularity of the transition form
the propodeum dorsum to the declivity. Although I am leaving the Ward
drawing here it is to show how it does not match the types below.
Specimens from Mkomazi, Tanzania, that I have now are placed under erythraea.