The Ants of Africa
Genus Plectroctena
Plectroctena minor Emery

Plectroctena minor Emery

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Ivory Coast (Plectroctena minor n. sp., Emery, 1892d: 556, illustrated, queen - see below; Emery, 1902c: 32, worker; Wheeler, 1922: 88, male) Assinie
junior synonyms
insularis (Plectroctena minor Em. v. insularis n. var., Santschi, 1924a: 169, illustrated, worker) from Fernando Po I., Conrad - see where labelled "fernandensis"
liberiana (Plectroctena minor Em. v. liberiana n. var., Santschi, 1924a: 169, illustrated, worker) from Liberia - see
perusta (Plectroctena minor Em. v. perusta n. var., Santschi, 1924a: 168, illustrated, worker) from Cameroun, Barumbistation, Preuss - see
all forms described (see Bolton, 1995) .

{Plectroctena minor petioles}Emery's (1892d) illustrated description of the queen is at {original description} Emery's (1902c) description of the worker is at {original description} Santschi's (1924a) description of the species s.s. is at {original description} and those of perusta, liberiana and insularis are at {original description}. Bolton's modern description (1974b: 324, mandible and petiole profile) is at {original description}.

Plectroctena gabonensis Santschi -  Type location Gabon (Plectroctena gabonensis n. sp., Santschi, 1919a: 336, worker; Bolton, 1974b: 323, queen) Libreville, Chalot - see

Worker and queen described (Bolton, 1974b, not illustrated) . Note - Bolton & Brown (2002: 11) revised this to a junior synonym of minor.

Santschi's (1919a) description is at {original description}. Bolton's modern description (1974b) is at {original description}

WORKER - TL 12.8-14.0 mm; similar to minor but slightly smaller; first gastral tergite with transverse groove very weak, usually only visible in middle of sclerite; eye smaller. Colour deep red-brown (minor is black).

Original collection from Libreville, Gabon, by Chalot, 1.xii.1897.

Bolton (1974b) lists records from Gabon, Equatorial Guinea (Fernando Po I.) and Zaïre - 6 findings. Now known from Cameroun, collected by the Campo Forest study (Bolton, Dejean & Ngnegueu, 1992), four samples, two from soil, one from rotting wood and one from an abandoned termitarium of Cubitermes banksi.

{Plectroctena minor queenThe photomontage of the type queen is collated from

{Plectroctena minor liberianaThe photomontage of the type worker of liberiana is collated from

{Plectroctena minor} Nigeria specimen (Taylor, 1976: 29). WORKER. TL 14.38 mm, HL 3.23, HW 3.17, SL 2.15, PW 1.90
Colour dark red-brown, shiny. All over sculpturation of scattered small hair-pits, very faint striations on the lateral alitrunk and petiole.
Collected from a rotten log by Bolton at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Idi Ayunre. He noted that fragments of millipedes were among the detritus of an excavated nest. Others TL 15.2-17.6, and otherwise generally larger, and darker (Bolton, 1974b).

Original collection from Assinie, Ivory Coast, by Ch. Alluaud, vii-viii 1886. The collection of perusta was at Barumbistation, Cameroun, by Preuss.

Wheeler (1922) listed it also from Sierra Leone (no details), Ghana (Aburi, F. Silvestri), Cameroun (Victoria, F. Silvestri), plus Fernando Po and Zaïre.

Bolton (1974b) also found it in Ghana, at CRIG, and it was described as not uncommon in eastern Ghana (Belshaw & Bolton, 1994b), although not found by them.

After examining further material from - Ghana, at Tafo, Wiawso and Odomi River, by D. Leston; Togo, at Palimé, Klouto, by Vir; Cameroun, at Ottotomo, Ndupe and Nzi, by A. Dejean, and Nkoemvon, by D. Jackson; Gabon, La Fôret des Abeilles, by S. Lewis; and Zaïre, Kinzambi, by A. Dejean; Bolton & Brown (2002) concluded the variations previously used to separate minor and gabonensis were insufficiently consistent to justify the separation into two species. They placed gabonensis as a junior synonym of minor.

{Plectroctena minor queen and woodlouse prey}Working with colonies established from field populations in the Kala, Matomb (Pan Pan), Ndupé and Ottotomo forests of southern Cameroun, Suzzoni, Schatz & Dejean (2000) used a cafeteria method of investigating the preferred prey of this species and conclusively demonstrated the "essential" nature of millipedes, with other arthropods being ancillary. Without millipedes in the diet of larvae in large colonies of P. minor winged females were not produced and the production of workers was reduced. The absence of millipedes, however, did not appear to affect the production of males. Foundling queens, avoiding tackling large prey and the illustration (right) from their paper shows such a queen with a woodlouse. They described how normal foraging is under the bark and in the wood of the rotting logs, which also are used as the nest sites.

Oxford University Museum specimens

Plectroctena minor
B Taylor det.

A Omer


Hnad collected
Plectroctena minor
B Taylor det.
Central African Republic
P Annoyer
02°53’ N
16°15’ E

{Plectroctena minor}The photomontage is of a worker from Uganda, collector Awatif Omer, 2006.

{Plectroctena minor}The photomontage is of a worker from the Central African Republic, Dzanga-Sangha NP; Bayanga-Lidjombo;; 10.30-12.30 h, collector Philippe Annoyer. 

{Plectroctena minor}The photomontage is collated from The specimen is from Gabon, Woleu-Ntem; 31.3 km 108° ESE Minvoul; 02°04'48"N 012°24'24"E; 600m; B L Fisher, BLF1673; rotten log in rain forest; 10.ii.1998.

© 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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