The Ants of Africa
Genus Parvaponera
Parvaponera darwinii (Forel)

Genus Parvaponera defined by Schmidt & Shattuck (2014: 199) with P. darwinii as type species.

Diagnosis. Workers of Parvaponera can be separated from other Ponerinae by the following combination of characters: eyes small (2-4 facets) or absent, mandibles short, without a basal pit or groove, propodeal spiracle generally elongate or slit-like (oval or nearly circular in a few species), ventral apex of the metatibia with one pectinate and one simple spur and subpetiolar process triangular and with an anterior fenestra and/or a pair of teeth. They are most likely to be confused with Centromyrmex, Hypoponera or Ponera. While both Centromyrmex and Parvaponera have reduced eyes, Parvaponera lacks pusher-setae on the tibiae as found in Centromyrmex (although they are present on the mesobasitarsus in some species of Parvaponera) and has a much more complex subpetiolar process which possesses either an anterior fenestra or posteroventral teeth, both of which are lacking in Centromyrmex. While superficially similar to Hypoponera and Ponera, Parvaponera has a pair of spurs present on the metatibia while only a single spur is present in these genera.

Parvaponera darwinii (Forel)

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Australia (Belonopelta Darwinii, n. sp., Forel, 1893d: 460, queen; Terayama, 1990: 897, worker; in Bolton, 1995: 304, as Pachycondyla (Trachymesopus) darwinii; ) Darwin - see below
junior synonyms
lamarki (Euponera (Trachymesopus) Lamarki n. sp., Santschi, 1913c: 303, queen; synonymy by Brown, 1963: 6; - note he actually wrote "all of these forms [medium small ferruginous-coloured females] may well represent a single species) from Congo, Southern Darbanda, Decorse, 1904 - see below
rufotestaceus (Cryptopone rufotestaceus, Donisthorpe, 1943b: 197, queen) from India, noted by Brown "as the same as  the large variant, of T. darwinii hitherto known as T. lamarki"- see
africana (Euponera (Pseudoponera) Darwini Forel var. africana n. var., Forel, 1909b: 51, queen; Santschi, 1914b: 51, male) from Congo, Luki, A. Jullien - no images on Antweb (June 2014)
indica (Belonopelta darwinii Forel var. indica nov. var., Emery, 1899f: 268, queen) from Burma - see
madecassa (Belonopelta Darwini For. var. madecassa n. var., Emery, 1899f: 268, queen) from Madagascar - see
all forms described (see Bolton, 1995) .

Note: The African forms seem almost certainly to be a different species.  I show what evidence is available at the bottom of this page but without images of africana offer no firm conclusions. I note that Schmidt & Shattuck write of species occurring in Tropical Africa but provide no information other than "P. darwinii africana (Forel, 1909) DRC (comb. nov.)" and do not list lamarki anywhere in their review. The form rufotestaceous also is not mentioned anywhere by them.

Forel's (1893d) description of the queen is at {original description}. Forel's (1900d) description of indica is at {original description}. Forel's (1909b) description of africana is at {original description}. Santschi's (1913c) description of lamarki is at {original description} - Brown (1963: 6) synonymizing this with darwinii described it as a large variant (TL 5.6 mm). Donisthorpe's (1943b) description of rufotestaceus is at {original description}.

{Pachycondyla darwinii worker ??} Terayama (1990: 897) - see {original description}- described what he felt was the previously undescribed worker. The photomontage at the bottom shows a worker presented on that is from the type area around Darwin, Australia. Generally that and the Terayama drawing are similar but the Australian specimen clearly shows the prominent median tooth on the anterior margin of the clypeus that was emphasised by Forel (1893d).

{Pachycondyla darwinii}The photomontage of the type queen is collated from

{Pachycondyla darwinii}The photomontage is collated from It is labelled as P. darwini. Australia: Northern Territory: Baroalba Gorge; 1230'00"S 13231'12"E Collection Information: Collection codes: ANTC6642 Collected by: R.W.Taylor & J.E.Feehan Habitat: rainforest Date: 18 Nov 1972 Method: under stone.

Notes on African forms

The queen of africana, as described by Forel (1909b), has - head almost as wide as long; petiole node less truncated than the type, more rounded posteriorly, upper anterior border less clear and, in profile not forming an slightly acuminate angle (seen in the type, but as in indica). Rest as variety indica, and even more so var. madecassa, which has a similar petiole node, but not as rounded as africana. Specimen from Zare, Luki, Lower Congo, by Dr. A. Jullien.

Santschi's lamarki queen has TL 6 mm; but clypeus impressed in the centre between two rudiments of carinae which reunite posteriorly. Propodeum dorsum longer than wide. More robust than darwini Forel

Wheeler (1922) listed it (as variety africana) from Nigeria (Lagos, F. Silvestri), Zare and Kenya. Santschi (1930a: 54-55) lists lamarcki from Mali, Koulouba (Andrieu, xii.1928, 1 queen) and Ivory Coast (Dimbroko, Le Moult, 1 queen); he listed africana also from Mali, Koulouba (Andrieu, vi.1928, 2 queens)

It seems quite possible that these all were actually Pachycondyla (Trachymesopus) fossigera. That is generally similar, although darker than the yellowish darwinii type form. It also is distinctly larger TL ca 6 mm cf darwinii TL 4.3-4.9 mm, and has a broader head CI 98-100, darwinii CI 92-93.

Alternatively, the distribution suggests that it is a tramp species, moving aboard ship, and mostly known from the female form only but that would not account for the records from well inland in Mali.

{Pachycondyla darwinii}The photomontage of the lamarki type queen is collated from This is some 25% larger than the type form. The head is a different shape and the scapes reaching the occiput rather than falling well short.

2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.