The Ants of Africa
Contents - Myrmicinae - Carebara sensu Fernandez - Introduction

Genus Carebara Westwood (1840b: 86)

Carebara lignataDiagnostic Features - Workers small (TL 1.8-2.6 mm), monomorphic. Mandibles with five or six teeth; palp formula 2,2. Antennae 9-segmented with a 2-segmented club. Clypeus bicarinate but not strongly so. Eyes absent. Promesonotal suture absent; metanotal groove impressed, deeply on the dorsum. Propodeum unarmed. Petiole strongly pedunculate, node rounded to cube-like, postpetiole rounded. Yellow-brown.

Westwood's (1840b) description of the queen, of Carebara lignata, is at {original description}. Bingham (1903) gave an illustrated account and this, with Emery's description of the worker and male, can be found on the species webpage.

Carebara langi queenBolton (1973a) describes this a genus of wholly hypogaeic, minute (TL less than 2.00 mm) ants, nearly always found with termites and usually nesting in the walls of termitaria. the females are enormous in relation to the workers (TL 24 mm for Carebara vidua, Wheeler, 1922; as much as 3,000 greater in volume than a worker, Bernard, 1952). Ettershank (1966) described them as obligatorily termitolestic, building their nests within the walls of the termitaria. Bernard (1952) reported that, although none were found in the Mt. Nimba, Guinea, surveys, the genus was well represented in Ivory Coast and Congo. There is no modern revision and Bolton (1995) gives no authority for several of the synonymizations.

Wheeler (1922) wrote of his suspicion that - "the young queen cannot start a new nest without the help of one or more of the workers from the old nest, on account of the size of her mouth-parts, which would probably be too large and clumsy to tend the tiny larvae of her first brood, and that it is therefore essential that she should have with her some workers which are able to feed the larvae by conveying to them the nourishment from the mouth of the queen. I find that the workers also attach themselves to the tarsi of the males. Two specimens of this sex referable to C. vidua, evidently taken at light and sent me by Mr. C. C. Gowdey from Kampala, Uganda, each bear two workers firmly attached by their mandibles to the tarsal hairs. Such workers must, of course, perish with their carriers, unless they can manage to pass over to the legs of the females during copulation".

{Carebara osborni male}Wheeler also provided a key to the then known African species, presumably following the earlier key by Santschi (1914d, see {original description}), which was illustrated (figures included below) and I have used this and notes on later descriptions.

Male only known - Somalia - patrizii


1 {Carebara arnoldi}Mandibles 3-toothed. Length 1.7 to 1.9 mm .
. {Carebara arnoldi} Zimbabwe - arnoldi
-- {Carebara vidua mandible}Mandibles 4-toothed (the fourth may be reduced or absent in junodi) 2
2 {Carebara vidua}Dorsum of propodeum longer than the declivity, marginate on the sides; TL 1.6 to 2 mm .
2 {Carebara vidua} southern Africa, Kenya & Congo - vidua
-- Dorsum of propodeum shorter than the declivity 3
3 {Carebara silvestrii}Petiole node one-fourth narrower than the postpetiole; TL 1.5 to 1.8 mm .
. .{Carebara silvestrii} Guinea - silvestrii
-- Petiole node as broad as the postpetiole 4
4 {Carebara osborni}Alitrunk in profile not impressed at the metanotal groove; promesonotum only slightly longer than broad; propodeum subcuboidal with subequal base and declivity; TL 0.8 to 1 mm .
. {Carebara osborni} Zare - osborni
-- {Carebara junodi}Alitrunk in profile distinctly impressed at the metanotal groove; promesonotum much longer than broad; propodeum not subcuboidal, its base very short, its declivity long and sloping; TL 1.7 to 1.9 mm .
. {Carebara junodi} South Africa & Zare - junodi


1 Large species, more than 20 mm long 2
-- Small species, less than 20 mm long. 4
2 Carebara amplaMandibles with only 2 teeth and the remainder of their apical borders undulated, not properly dentate; TL 23 mm ampla
-- Mandibles with more than 2 teeth, entire apical border dentate 3
3 Carebara vidua queenBlack; the gaster sometimes red; TL 24 mm; mesonotum about as broad as long; clypeal border not emarginate in the middle; hind metatarsi much shorter than hind tibiae vidua
-- Dull rusty red; TL 23 mm; mesonotum with three dark brown longitudinal stripes; thorax narrower; clypeal border broadly emarginate in the middle; hind metatarsi but little shorter than the hind tibiae - no images of queen
4 Carebara osborni queenTL only 8 mm; paler and more reddish brown
-- Length 13 to 17 mm 5
5 TL 16-17 mm; head & thorax red-brown, gaster testaceous yellow - no images
-- Dark brown or castaneous 6
6 Carebara sicheli queenTL 15 mm; body covered with short hairs; clypeus merely coarsely punctate
- Carebara langi queenTL 13 mm; body almost hairless; clypeus transversely rugulose in the middle
-- TL 14 mm; body with minute scattered yellow hairs; anterior of head with weak striato-puncturation - no images
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