The Ants of Africa
Genus Myrmicaria
Myrmicaria taeniata Santschi - new status

Myrmicaria taeniata Santschi - new status

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Zaïre (Myrmicaria natalensis Sm. v. taeniata n. var. Santschi, 1930d: 269, worker) from Kasongo, Dr Stoppers - see below.

The original description of the worker (my translation) had: brown ochre or pale reddish, the vertex and the gaster darker brown, the borders of the tergites edged with brown. Frons more densely striate, almost as eumenoides. Nodes and gaster smooth. Form as M. irregularis Sants., but with the petiole as in eumenoides. It is a transitional form. Note: location given as "Congo Belge: Katanga (Dr Stappers)".

The distinguishing features that readily separate it from the accepted M. natalensis workers are: the greater number of fine longitudinal striations on the face; the relatively pale scapes with almost no longitudinal striae; the longitudinal striae on the promesonotum reaching right to the anterior; the fine but clear spiculate sculpture on the base of the gaster (contrars to Santschi;s statement).

The "dichroa" worker, also from Zaïre, shares all those features; as do the fresh workers from Gabon and Cameroun.

{Myrmicaria taeniata}The photomontage of the taeniata type worker is collated from

{Myrmicaria dichroa}The photomontage of the apparently unpublished  dichroa type worker is collated from Forel (1913h) listed a finding of ants by Dr. J Maes at Kwamouth, that was of Paratrechina longicornis (as Prenolepis, p 354). In the same paper appear finsings of Myrmicaria eumenoides, congolensis and opaciventris, none were by Dr Maes or from Kwamouth. Maes (as Moes) is mentioned also in Santschi (1930a) xii.1913 at Oshwe; and in Santschi (1935a).

Oxford University Museum specimens

Myrmicaria taeniata
B Taylor det.
G Debout & A Dalecky
Cameroon 122
3°55' N
13°45' E
Myrmicaria taeniata
B Taylor det.
Y Braet
Gabon 49
00°34' N
09°19' E
Pointe Wingombe; under trees; sweep net

{Myrmicaria natalensis}Specimen collected in the extreme southeast of Cameroun - McKey Wolbachia project) - Cameroon 122 from Kouedjina (3°55' N, 13°45' E, altitude 692 m), 20 April 2001, noted simply as terricolous ants. Appears identical to taeniata.

{Myrmicaria natalensis}The photomontage is of workers collected in Gabon, in Pongara National Park, Pointe Wingombé; collector Yves Braet (Gabon 49). This matches the Cameroun form above.

With the foregoing separation of taeniata as a species from Congo, Gabon and Cameroun, I suspects the following all also are of the newly defined species.

Wheeler (1922) listed findings (as eumenoides) which include Cameroun (Bibundi, by Tessmann).

Bernard (1952) reported the finding of numerous workers from N'Zo and Yanlé in Guinea; noting it as the most common genus member in all of tropical Africa.

It is primarily a species of the Sudan savannah according to Lévieux, who made extensive studies of its behaviour in Ivory Coast (as eumenoides, Lévieux, 1983a); at Lamto and Ferkéssédougou. He described it as more common than Myrmicaria striata, with a surface-foraging habit and nests with distinct crater openings. Nests tend to be clumped. The colony size was 18,000-22,000 individuals, the latter being in a colony more than three years old. Foraging in the Guinea savannah was over some 12-15 m² and in the Sudan savannah over a much larger 110 m², up to 11 m from the nest. The diet consists of 95% arthropods (insects 60-80%, especially other ants and termites, both adults and larvae. It collects honeydew from Aleyrodoidea, whiteflies, living on grasses or on trees, up to about 5 m. Activity tends to be bimodal with morning and late afternoon peaks.

Interestingly, Wheeler (1922) related its habits at some length, noting that Arnold described it as never tending aphids, membracids or lepidopterous larvae; the nesting habits were. however, the same as those described by Lévieux.

The poison gland secretions have been discussed by Bradshaw & Howse (1984). In brief, the secretions may be used sparingly, to label potential prey items, or in larger quantities as an alarm signal to stimulate an aggressive defence response. The chemicals used are monoterpene hydrocarbons, apparently a somewhat unique characteristic of the genus.

2016 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.