The Ants of Africa
Genus Tetraponera
Tetraponera lepida Wheeler stat. nov.

Tetraponera lepida Wheeler stat. nov.

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Congo (Tetraponera mocquerysi variety lepida, Wheeler, 1922: 106, worker & queen) collected at Faradje, by Lang & Chapin
worker & queen only described .

{Tetraponera lepida}Wheeler's (1922) description, as a variety of Tetraponera mocquerysi, was -
"WORKER - Length 6.5-7.0 mm. Differing from the typical form of the species in color, the thorax, petiole, gaster and coxae being very dark or black; the head, mandibles, antennae, legs, anterior and posterior ends and the ventral surface of the petiole brownish yellow. Vertex with a large, transversely elliptical black spot reaching on each side nearly to the orbit. In one specimen the posterior portion of the pronotum is red. Shape of head and thorax, sculpture and pilosity of the body very much as in the typical form.

FEMALE - Length 6.5 mm. Very similar to worker. Posterior borders of gastric segments brownish. Wings grayish hyaline, with pale brown veins and dark brown pterostigma.

Described from two workers from Faradje (type locality) and one from Yakubu and a single female from Garamba (Lang and Chapin)."

The photograph of the type held in the MCZ, Harvard, shows the head is quite different from that of Tetraponera mocquerysi (which is near rectangular). Apart from the larger size, however, the specimen I drew from CRIN, Nigeria, seems identical in shape and colouration.  The fresh specimen from Congo (below) confirms the status.

Photographs of a further cotype are on The Smithsonian Institute website at

Ward (1990: 488) gave the "current nominal combination" as Tetraponera mocquerysi lepida, with the annnotation that he had examined a specimen (presumably from the Wheeler collection).

It seems quite possible that this species is synonymous with Tetraponera triangularis, or at least the variety illota, which was described from a collection at Olokomeji, Nigeria, very close to CRIN, as with my specimens (below). What I take as the type form T. triangularis is larger overall, with three distinct ocelli, a more rectangular head in full face view, and, a denser covering of fine pubescence on the pedicel and gaster.

{Tetraponera species}

Tetraponera species Nigeria specimens (Tetraponera species, Taylor, 1976: 39). WORKER. TL 9.31 mm, HL 1.71, HW 1.40, SL 0.84, PW 1.12
Colour dark red-brown to black, orange extremities. Shiny but with fine pubescence all over and abundant erect hairs. Margination between dorsal and lateral alitrunk distinct with slight concavity of lateral surfaces. Eye length 0.78 mm (0.45 of HL). Two ocelli.
Moderately common on shrubs and bushes at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Idi Ayunre, but not often on cocoa.

Oxford University Museum specimens

Tetraponera lepida
B Taylor det.
E Zassi

03°16'56.5" S
015°28'28.3" E
Wooded Savannah; 24h pitfall trap

{Tetraponera lepida}The photomontage is of a worker from Congo, Réserve de Lésio-Louna; collector Eric Zassi (n sp 24).

{Tetraponera lepida}The photomontage is collated from As can be seen from the label, this was diagnosed as Tetraponera mocquerysi, but that has a near straight occiput and is smaller. The anterior clypeal margin in mocquerysi is slightly arcuate and with small crenellations; this has the near straight clypeal margin with well developed crenellations (or teeth).

© 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2019 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.