The Ants of Africa
SUBFAMILY PONERINAE - Genus Phrynoponera
Contents - Ponerinae - PONERINAE Introduction

Genus Phrynoponera Wheeler (1920: 53)


Diagnostic Features - Have a very distinctive comb of five teeth on the petiole and these curve backwards over the gaster.

Bolton (1973a) describes the members as being uncommon, very rarely found outside the damp-rotten logs in which they nest. All members are Afrotropical (Bolton, 1995).

Wheeler (1922) had this description of the genus -
WORKER. Allied to Bothroponera [now synonymised under Pachycondyla] but distinguished by the following characters: body shorter and stouter; mandibles narrower, not triangular, their basal and external borders parallel, the apical border oblique, bluntly dentate, not forming a distinct angle with the basal border. Clypeus short, elevated in the middle, with a median furrow and a ridge on each side, the anterior border broadly rounded and entire or bluntly bidentate, posteriorly extending back between the frontal carinae as a narrow acute point. Frontal carinae expanded as lobes but the latter are not thickened as in Bothroponera, but depressed except at the edges which are smooth and slightly elevated, concealing the insertions of the antennae as in Bothroponera. Eyes rather large and convex, broadly elliptical, placed just in front of the middle of the head. Antennae stout, 12-jointed as in most Ponerini. Thorax with broad pronotum; promesonotal suture distinct, arcuate; metanotal and metanotal sutures obsolete; propodeum with two stout spines. Petiole surmounted by a flattened scale which curves back over the postpetiole and terminates in a comb consisting of five acute, flattened teeth. Remainder of abdomen very short, oval, the postpetiole, which forms nearly half of it, not truncated but rounded in front and not separated by a constriction from the first gastric segment, though the stridulatory surface is well developed as in Bothroponera. Sting very long; longer, more slender and more acute than in the latter genus. Legs rather long and stout; middle and hind tibiae each with a long pectinated and a simple lateral spur; claws simple. Sculpture of body coarse; pilosity short, abundant, coarse and erect.
FEMALE winged, but wings unknown; in other respects very similar to the worker and scarcely larger. Ocelli small. Pronotum broad and exposed; mesonotum and scutellum flat, together nearly circular, each being broader than long.

In essence the following key was posted by me long before the on-line publication of - Bolton, B. & Fisher, B.L. 2008b. The Afrotropical ponerine ant genus Phrynoponera Wheeler (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa, 1892: 35-82.

They gave the following synonomic list -

Status of P. striatidens - Bolton & Fisher (2008b) note they were unable to sight the type specimen of striatidens. Although they list a specimen from Akenge, DRC, among the specimens examined they make no reference to the photographs on the MCZ site (shown on my species webpage). They claim - "Among the large quantity of material examined the area of the mandible with striation was extremely variable, from entirely absent to complete". There are several specimens shown on the P. gabonensis webpage, including queens and workers and none show anything other than wholly smooth mandibles.

Key to workers from Africa (derived from Wheeler, 1922, plus Santschi, 1919h); with additions from Bolton & Fisher (2008b)

Note there is a specimen shown on Antweb, labelled "Phrynoponera gabonensis", that does not match any of the descriptions in Bolton & Fisher (2008b) and does not appear among the lists of specimens examined - see Phrynoponera Angola specimen.

1 {short description of image}Clypeus with two large blunt teeth 2
-- {short description of image}Clypeus without teeth 5
2 {Phrynoponera transversa petiole}TL 9.5-9.8; in full face view some or all the vertex behind the eyes with relatively coarse, arched and transverse striations (derived from Bolton & Fisher, 2008b) '
. {Phrynoponera transversa} Congo Basin & Liberia - transversa
-- Head with quite fine striations none of which are transverse 3
3 {Phrynoponera striatidens}With striated mandibles; the striations on the head are very divergent; the alitrunk is shorter & more robust; the gaster is matt; densely reticulo-punctate with large deep punctures but without true hair-pits (fossettes)
. {short description of image} Cameroun & Zaïre - striatidens
-- Mandibles smooth; head with quite fine striations 4
4 {Phrynoponera gabonensis}{Phrynoponera gabonensis petiole}TL 6.5-7.5 mm, mandibles 4-toothed; petiole with short spines but outer pair longer than median, and the latter not much longer than intermediate spines - with several varieties .
. {Phrynoponera gabonensis}includes P. heterodera West Africa & Congo Basin - gabonensis
. Clypeus with smooth, weakly arcuate anterior margin .
5 {short description of image}Small species, TL ca 6 mm, funicular joints 2-10 much broader than long, petiole with external and median spines relatively short and of equal lengths; black, mandibles and appendages dark brown (queen only formally described) .
. {Phrynoponera bequaerti worker} Congo Basin & Ghana - bequaerti
-- Large species, TL 8-9.5 mm; mandibles and appendages reddish-brown 6
6 {Phrynoponera puchella petiole}TL 11.5-12.0; petiole with all spines short and about the same length; gaster finely sculptured with a dense pelt of appressed pubescence (derived from Bolton & Fisher, 2008b) .
. {Phrynoponera pulchella} Tanzania & Kenya - pulchella
-- {short description of image}TL 9.0-10.5 mm; petiole with a median spine which is much shorter than the outer spines but longer than the intermediate spines; funicular joints 2-10 at least as long as broad; 6-10 slightly longer than broad; scapes surpass occiput by about one-fifth of own length .
. {Phrynoponera sveni} Cameroun & Congo Basin - sveni
Contents PONERINAE Introduction
© 2007, 2008, 2013, 2015 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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