The Ants of Africa
Genus Tetraponera
Tetraponera ophthalmica (Emery)

Tetraponera ophthalmica (Emery)

return to key Type location Cameroun (Sima ophthalmica n. sp., Emery, 1912b: 98, worker; in Tetraponera, Wheeler, 1922: 107) collected at Batanga by L Conradt
worker and queen described (see Bolton, 1995) .

I have given the form described as Tetraponera unidens by Santschi (1928d: 60, illustrated, queen) a new status as a full species and the senior synonym of nasuta.

Similarly, (2014) I have separated  Tetraponera tenebrosa Santschi as a distinct species.

Ward (1990: 489) gave the "current nominal combination" T. ophthalmica Emery (1912: 98; from Cameroun), Tetraponera ophthalmica tenebrosa Santschi (1928: 61; from Zaïre) and Tetraponera ophthalmica unidens Santschi (1928: 60; from Zaïre); with the annnotation that he had examined specimens.

{Tetraponera ophthalmica}Emery's (1912b) description is at {original description}. Wheeler's (1922: 107) illustrated note is at {original description}. Santschi's (1928d) description of tenebrosa, is at {original description}.

Wheeler (1922, illustrated, full profile, full-face head, matching my drawing, below) listed a second Cameroun finding (at Batanga, G. Schwab), plus Zaïre; the specimen from Zaïre is pictured in Hölldobler & Wilson (1990, page 56). J. Bequaert collected nine workers at Thysville "running on limbs of Barteria fistulosa, whose cavities were not inhabited by ants" [i.e. there were no Tetraponera aethiops]. Forel (1916) noted Kohl had collected it at Bengemeza and St Gabriel, tending aphids on Barteria fistulosa, noting that the specimens TL about 4 mm were a little bigger than the type, the propodeum more humped and smoothly passing from dorsum to declivity, the petiole low, convex and narrow, twice as long as wide, the postpetiole a little larger, cupiliform, and a little longer than its posterior width.

{Tetraponera ophthalmica} The photomontage of a type worker is collated from

{short description of image} Nigeria specimens (Taylor, 1976: 39). WORKER. TL 4.08 mm, HL 0.86, HW 0.53, SL 0.39, PW 0.36; CI 60  SI 80 EI 46
Colour yellow, shiny almost transparent cuticle. Fine, dense pubescence restricted to gaster. Eye length 0.39 mm (0.45 of HL). No ocelli.
It was rarely collected on cocoa and cashew trees. Nests in dead wood on trees.

Also reported from Ghana cocoa canopy by Room (1971), including at 13 of his collections from cocoa canopy; and on cocoa mistletoe (Room, 1972a, 1975), where it ranked 13th in terms of presence/absence (on 24/175 plants). Also found on cocoa at Kade by Majer (1975), using pkd (apparently in two samples, each with three workers).

Oxford University Museum specimens

Tetraponera ophthalmica
B Taylor det.
G Debout & A Dalecky
Cameroon 17

2°34.07' N
9°53.80' E
on Leonardoxa africana africana


{Tetraponera ophthalmica}The photomontage is of workers collected in Cameroun - south-western tropical coastal forest area between Edéa and Campo (McKey Wolbachia project, Cameroon 17).

Head near rectangular with slightly convex sides, both anterior and posterior margins straight; in profile head near ovoid. Eyes large, extending from about 1/3 point of face back to 1/6 from occipital margin, ovoid but angled so closer together anteriorly; two distinct ocelli. Scapes near transparent, reaching mid-point of face. Overall appearance dull; face with quite dense very short hairs and longer hairs on occiput. Pronotum dorsum near flat, very slightly convex, with distinct right angled margins; fairly numerous long, fine erect hairs. Petiole and postpetiole in profile domed dorsally in profile, no ventral processes, petiole with a few quite long fine hairs, postpetiole without hairs.

{Tetraponera ophthalmica}The photomontage is of a second worker (McKey Wolbachia project, Cameroon 17).

© 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.