The Ants of Africa
SUBFAMILY PONERINAE - Genus Pachycondyla (sensu Bolton 1995: 40) keys
Contents - Ponerinae - Pachycondyla Introduction

The keys that follow were developed by me several years ago, building on those of Bolton (1973a).
Key to historic subgenera - used as species-groups for convenience

Note: that the Schmidt & Shattuck paper (issued June 2014, see Introduction page) largely raised the same groups to genus level. As my keys worked and still work I see no reason to change them. The linked species pages cover the new and revived genus names. These are: Bothroponera Mayr; Brachyponera Emery; Hagensia Forel; Megaponera Mayr; Mesoponera Emery (including former Xiphopelta, reverting to Wheeler, 1922: 775, although he did not include all the S&S species, e.g M. ambigua); Ophthalmopone Forel; Paltothyreus Mayr; Euponera including African Trachymesopus species - this latter I find confusing as they give "Pseudoponera Emery gen. rev. = Trachymesopus Emery"; under Euponera they state that Madagascar species have been revised but the remaining species await revision.

Pretarsal claws armed with a tooth
Note: this used to include the still separate Genus Platythyrea but that has the tibiae of the middle and hind legs each with two pectinate spurs, overall dense shagreening, and without the median clypeus raised or projecting forward
{Pachycondyla analis face} Megaponera, two species (both often reported as Megaponera foetens; with what one might call a dimorphic worker form, with intermediate sizes; pretarsal claw with tooth near the base Megaponera key
{Pachycondyla tarsata face}Paltothyreus, monotypic - Paltothyreus tarsatus, now Pachycondyla tarsata; very large species with the median clypeus raised and projecting forward, and the tibiae of middle and hind legs with a large pectinate spur and a small simple spur .
{Pachycondyla tarsata} Pan-African - tarsatus
Pretarsal claws simple and without teeth
{Pachycondyla silvestrii petiole}Petiole thick and nodiform .
{Pachycondyla sjostedti}Bothroponera - generally thickset Bothroponera key
{Pachycondyla berthoudi}Ophthalmopone - slender elongate ants Ophthalmopone key
{Pacycondyla caffraria petiole}Petiole reduced to a thick scale .
Basal portion of the mandible without a dorsolateral pit or fovea
{Pachycondyla caffraria face}Mesoponera - mandibles moderately elongated with several teeth; moderate sized eyes; anterior margin of clypeus evenly convex; maxillary palps 4-segmented; funiculus with first joint same length as second; thorax elongate; mesonotum oval with surrounding suture; legs relatively short Mesoponera (Mesoponera) key
{Pachycondyla picea anterior face}Xiphopelta - having longer more slender mandibles, anterior margin of clypeus of most with a median point; less dilated promesonotum, and especially with the first funicular segment distinctly longer than the other segments Mesoponera (Xiphopelta) key
Basal portion of the mandible with fovea
{Pachycondyla peringueyi mandible}Hagensia - re-established for two species from South Africa, where the mandible fovea is in the form of a transverse or oblique elongate groove; male and female both with toothed claws; TL at least 9.3 to 12.5 mm Hagensia key
{Pachycondyla sennaarensis head}Brachyponera - palp formula of 3,3; relatively large eyes (diameter wider than the scape); and a very deep metanotal suture; short broad alitrunk, with propodeal declivity flat to concave to accomodate anterior face of petiole; Tl 4-6 mm Brachyponera key
{Pachycondyla brunoi}Euponera [inc African Trachymesopus] - palp formula of 4,4; very small eyes; and a weakly impressed metanotal suture; TL 3.4-5 mm Euponera [Trachymesopus] key

return to key Megaponera-group

1 {Pachycondyla analis major}Head in full face view somewhat ovoid with rounded occipital angles; alitrunk profile without a drop to rear of mesonotum; mandibles with very fine puncturation West Africa & Congo Basin (east to Rwanda) major - analis
-- {Pachycondyla analis minor}Petiole apex not higher than propodeum; also in profile petiole generally thicker and only slightly narrower at the top; gaster with relatively abundant pubescence minor - analis
2 {short description of image}Head in full face view with near straight sides and near right-angled occipital corners; alitrunk profile with marked drop to rear of mesonotum; mandibles with very distinct puncturation; TL 15 mm Eastern & Southern Africa - major - laeviuscula
-- {short description of image} Petiole apex higher than level of propodeum; also in profile apex slightly narrower than base; gaster with much reduced pubescence; TL 9-11 mm minor - laeviuscula

return to key Bothroponera-group former subgenus Bothroponera Mayr (1862: 717)

WORKER - small, medium-sized or large, opaque or subopaque, usually strongly sculptured black or dark brown ants. Workers monomorphic. Head subrectangular, with the eyes usually well developed, rarely vestigial, placed at or in front of the posterior third of the head. Mandibles subtriangular, with coarsely dentate apical margin. Cheeks without a carina. Clypeus with rounded, obtusely angular or feebly and sinuately marginate anterior border, prolonged backward as a narrow point between the frontal carinae, which are broadly and lobularly expanded, incrassated and covering the insertions of the antennae. Frontal groove distinct. Antennae stout, 12-jointed. Thorax with distinct promesonotal suture, but with the metanotal suture and that between the mesosternum and mesepisternum absent or obsolescent. Pronotum not marginate on the sides; propodeum usually unarmed. Petiole with a thick, more or less transverse node, in a few species somewhat compressed and dentate above or behind. Gaster subcylindrical, with pronounced constriction between the postpetiole and succeeding segment, the postpetiole truncated in front; sting rather short and blunt. Middle and hind tibiae each with a large pectinated and a simple lateral spur; claws simple.

Arnold (1915) gave a key to the Southern African species of Bothroponera, this is at {original description}. Arnold (1952a) revised the key (treating it as a genus) and this is at {original description}.

The following key may be useful in identifying the workers and females of the Ethiopian species of Bothroponera.

¤ Known only from the queen Zaïre - rubescens
¤ Pachycondyla umgodikululaKeys from 10 below; coarsely punctate, smooth mandibles; separable by the horizontal opening to the propodeal spiracle and the lack of sculpturation on the gaster from the second segment backwards
South Africa - umgodikulula
1 Head, thorax, petiole and postpetiole coarsely punctate, punctate-rugulose or striated 2
-- These regions finely and densely punctate, sometimes with superimposed, larger but shallow punctures 13
2 Mandibles striate 3
-- Mandibles smooth, sparsely punctate 10
3 {Pachycondyla cariosa}TL 11 mm; petiolar node broadly excised posteriorly (with concave margin in dorsal view); very dark brown to black Mozambique & South Africa - cariosa
-- Petiolar node sharply truncated posteriorly 4
4 {short description of image}TL 5.5 mm; petiolar node with sharp anterior and posterior margins in dorsal view, dorsum almost flat; red-brown Gabon - pongarensis new species
-- TL at least 8 mm 5
5 {testaceous yellow}TL 8 mm; testaceous yellow (e.g. as in sample, right) Congo - cribrata
-- TL not less than 9 mm; black or brownish black 6
6 {Bothroponera cavernosa}TL 13 mm; antennal scapes reaching to occiput; brownish-black South Africa - cavernosa
-- Antennal scapes not reaching to occiput; eyes small 7
7 {Pachycondyla talpa}TL 9 mm; eye small; golden pubescence on body, especially on head, abundant; sculpture less pronounced West Africa to Tanzania - talpa
-- TL > 9 mm 8
8 {Pachcondyla mlanjiensis}TL 9.2-10 mm; pits on petiole and basal two segments of gaster larger than on alitrunk; black Malawi & South Africa - mlanjiensis

TL at least 10 mm 9
9 {Pachycondyla sanguinea}TL 10 mm; sculpture less pronounced; pronotum with less pronounced shoulders; petiole with posterior border no wider than the petiole length; dark red Congo Basin (including Angolan forest) - sanguinea
-- {Pachycondyla pachyderma}TL 12 to 15 mm; petiole with posterior border about 1.3 X wider than the petiole length; golden pubescence less pronounced; sculpture coarser; distinctive blood-red spot at posterior of each gastral segment Western areas - Congo to Guinea - pachyderma
-- Mandibles smooth --
10 {Pachycondyla granosa}TL 14 mm; clypeus with a sharp median carina; petiolar node broadly excised posteriorly; body covered with very fine recumbent golden pubescence; black; apex of frontal carinae shining red .
. {Pachycondyla granosa} South Africa - granosa

Petiolar node truncated behind; body without golden pubescence 11
11 {Pachycondyla pumicosa}TL ca 10.5 mm, gaster more or less shining, black with golden pubescence Southern Africa & Cameroun - pumicosa
-- Gaster opaque, finely striated 12
12 {Pachycondyla strigulosa}TL 10 mm; black South Africa - strigulosa
-- {Pachycondyla variolosa}TL 11 mm; petiole node quite long with rounded anterodorsal profile; genae and lateral alitrunk striate; black .
. {Pachycondyla variolosa} South Africa - variolosa
return to couplet 1-- Head, thorax and petiole finely and densely punctate, sometimes with superimposed, larger but shallow punctures --
13 Eyes well developed in the workers 14
-- Eyes vestigial in the workers 21
14 TL 5.5 mm 15
-- TL at least 7 mm 17
15 {Pachycondyla silvestrii}TL 5.5; mandibles 6-toothed; petiole nearly twice as broad as long; dark red-brown matt .
. {Pachycondyla silvestrii} West Africa & Gabon - silvestrii
-- Mandibles 7-toothed; petiole as long as broad 16
16 {Pachycondyla kenyensis}TL 5.6; mandible with 3 large apical teeth and four small-minute basal teeth; HL 1/5 longer than HW; black .
. {Pachycondyla kenyensis} Kenya & Tanzania- kenyensis
-- HL 1/3 longer than HW; TL 5.5; colour like crassa but appendages darker more brown (no images)
Angola - picardi
-- TL at least 7 mm --
17 Mandibles shining 18
-- Mandibles finely striate 19
18 {Pachycondyla soror}TL 7.0-8.0; head with moderately convex sides; sparsely punctate; dark brown-red; the slightly recessed, medium-sized oval eye seems characteristic of the species Pan-African - soror

{Pachycondyla lamottei}TL 8.5-8.7; head near rectangular; clypeus with longitudinal striations; propodeum with a sharp junction between dorsum and declivity; black without bronze reflections Guinea - lamottei
19 {Pachycondyla kruegeri}Opaque; head ovoid; TL 11 mm; colour black South Africa - kruegeri
-- Subopaque or shining; head subrectangular 20
20 {Pacycondyla laevissima}Very shining; TL 12 mm; clypeus angularly produced in middle; eyes small; petiole with rounded dorsal angles in profile; colour black South Africa - laevissima
-- {Pachycondyla crassa}Subopaque; TL 7 to 7.5 mm; clypeus feebly sinuate in middle; eyes larger; colour dark red-brown Panafrican (savannah) - crassa
return to couplet 1-- Eyes vestigial in the workers --
21 {Pachycondyla sjostedti}TL 4.5 to 5.5 mm; mandibles smooth, sparsely punctate; eyes very small, with less than a dozen facets; red-brown .
. {pachycondyla sjostedti} West Africa & Congo Basin - sjostedti
-- TL 6.5 to 7 mm; mandibles striate at the tip; eyes larger, with about 45 facets 22
22 {short description of image}TL 6.5-7.0 mm; head square with a near flat occiput; no erect hairs except on anterior of head and lower alitrunk; dark brown Tanzania & Ghana - fugax
-- {Pachycondyla zumpti}TL 6.3 mm; head with fine reticulo-rugose sculpture; petiole with distinctive large fossettes; abundant long yellowish erect hairs except on head; testaceous yellow Cameroun - zumpti

return to key Ophthalmopone-group (subgenus Ophthalmopone Forel (1890b: cxi)

WORKER - slender elongate ants with claws simple

The following key may be useful in identifying the workers and females of the African species

1 Head elongated HL ca 1.5 X HW; eyes large and set far back on head 2
-- Ophthalmopone hottentotaHead less elongated; diameter of eye less than its distance from the anterior of the face; TL 10-11 mm; cf berthoudi - altogether less slender and less elongated; petiole node seen from above much narrower anteriorly and less emarginate posteriorly; but pubescence denser and more fulvous; black South Africa - hottentota
2 {Pachycondyla berthoudi pubescens}TL 12 mm; posterior border of petiole in dorsal view with distinct lateral points; black; tips of appendages lighter to yellow Eastern & Southern Africa - berthoudi
-- {short description of image}TL 11.5-13 mm; head smaller and longer than berthoudi, HL 1.5 X HW; eyes large and pronouncedly convex; mandible with 12-14 denticles; posterior border of petiole in dorsal view totally straight; pubescence darker red-gold Ethiopia - ilgii
-- Pachycondyla depilisTL 10 mm; pubescence more subtle, greyish-pruinose; less elongated than ilgii with more elevated margins to the propodeum Saô Tomé - depilis
-- Pachycondyla mocquerysiTL 12.5-13.5 mm; head less elongated than ilgii; black with dark brick-red pubescence; Saô Tomé - mocquerysi

return to key Mesoponera-group (subgenus Mesoponera, Emery, 1900d).

WORKER - (modified after Arnold, translation, 1915: 64) clypeus rounded; mandibles moderately elongated with several teeth; maxillary palps 4-segmented; funiculus with first joint same length as second; thorax elongate; mesonotum oval with surrounding suture; legs relatively long.

Santschi (1935b) gave a key to the species - for record purposes this is at {original description}. havilandi and peringueyi are in subgenus Hagensia.

Key to workers of the Ethiopian species of Mesoponera.

1 {Pachycondyla caffraria}TL 7.6-9.0 mm; head with parallel sides; eyes small, length < two-thirds of apical segment of funiculus; propodeum with distinct angle between dorsum and declivity; scanty erect pilosity; black or nearly so, dull .
. {Pachycondyla caffraria} pan-African - caffraria
-- {Pachycondyla wroughtoni}Propodeum profile a smooth curve; sides of head convex; TL 5.0-5.3 mm; mandibles stout triangular, with 9 teeth, lightly striated; mostly dark brown, but lightening posteriorly, gastral apex rusty yellow; all over with fine golden pubescence .
. {Pachycondyla wroughtoni} South Africa - wroughtoni
-- {short description of image}TL 5 mm (Nigeria specimens are TL 6.97-7.66 mm, HL 1.68-1.87, HW 1.43-1.59, SL 1.24-1.40, PW 1.09-1.18); mandibles large triangular, with more than eight teeth; clypeus longitudinally carinate; propodeum compressed above, considerably narrower in dorsal view than the pronotum, posterior face concave; subpetiolar process with rounded corners or a very small tooth at the anterior corner; with dense pilosity; dark red-brown, lighter brown on extremities, funicular apex yellow .
. {Pachycondyla escherichi} Eritrea, ?Nigeria, & South Africa - escherichi
-- {Pachycondyla ingesta}TL 5.5-6.0 mm; HL > HW; mandibles moderately long with 8-9 teeth; petiole scale with faces near flat; few erect hairs; castaneous, mandibles deep red with black margins .
. {Pachycondyla ingesta} Congo Basin and ? Sahel - ingesta

return to key Xiphopelta key

° {short description of image}Queen only Sudan - flavopilosa
1 Eyes larger > 40 facets 2
-- Small eyes < 40 facets 4
-- Eyes larger > 40 facets 2
2 {Pachycondyla subiridescens}Mandibles with much reduced teeth; TL 6.5-7.0 mm; HL > HW; clypeus a narrow scale; deep castaneous near black .
. {Pachycondyla subiridescens} Zaïre - subiridescens
-- {Pachycondyla nimba}TL 6.6 mm; eyes small (60 facets); propodeum laterally bordered; mandibles elongated with 12-13 small teeth; almost entirely dark red; fine yellowish pilosity all over .
. {Pachycondyla nimba} Guinea - nimba
-- Eyes < 40 facets --
4 TL 6.0 mm; eyes 6 facets in longitudinal diameter; mandible long with 12-13 teeth alternating between small and minute; propodeum with smooth transition but laterally bordered; entirely rust-brown; shiny except head and anterior pronotum which are finely punctate and densely pubescent - available type images are conflicting - see species page
Congo Basin - scolopax
-- Eyes with 10-30 facets 5
5 TL 3.2 mm 6
-- TL at least 4.5 mm 7
6 {short description of image}TL 3.2 mm, HL 0.8, HW 0.6 mm. Separable from weberi by the head details - finely reticulated and matt; thorax without reticulation, with large puncturations and the outline of transverse rugae. Eyes reduced to 4 facets, 4 times further from the mandibles than their length. Antennal lobes more rounded. Clypeus punctuated, not sinuated, anterior border almost rectilinear, with a very fine point. Mandibles bluntly widened, 9 equal, large, contiguous, yellow teeth. Propodeum and petiole scale similar to weberi. Uniform dark red, darker than the related weberi, appendages yellowish. .
. {short description of image} Guinea - novemdentata
-- {short description of image}TL 3.2 mm, HL 0.8, HW 0.55 mm. Head parallel for most of its length, unlike its larger relatives. Clypeus yellow, with large puncturations, anteriorly sinuated, median point blunt. Mandibles yellow, little puncturated, distinctly differing from other "Xiphopelta" by the progressive widening; 13 large, contiguous, yellow but somewhat inequal, teeth. Eyes small, some 8 facets, 3.5 times further from mandible bases than their length. Frontal lobes more angular than other relatives. Propodeum with obtuse angle, the two faces seeming equal. Overall shiny but head, thorax and abdomen with very visible medium reticulation. Propodeum and petiole smoother. Sparse white hairs, dense on the petiole scale, white pubescence on the head. Red-brown, darker on the gaster, antennal lobe and mandible bases; appendages yellow. .
. Pachycondyla weberi Guinea - weberi
-- TL at least 4.5 mm --
7 {short description of image}TL 4.5 mm; castaneous or piceous brown; appendages yellower .
. {Pachycondyla elisae} Southern & East Africa - elisae
-- TL at least 5 mm 8
8 Colour no more than chestnut brown 9
-- Colour dark, at least brown-black 10
9 {Pachycondyla testacea}TL 5.2 mm; eyes brown flat with some 30 facets; mandibles slender with 12-13 teeth; propodeum relatively elongated; metanotal groove shallow; testaceous-yellow Guinea - testacea
. {Pachycondyla testacea}
-- {Pachycondyla senegalensis}TL 5.0-5.5 mm; eyes with 8 facets diameter; mandibles elongate with 14-15 teeth alternating small and minute; deep metanotal groove; propodeum with distinct but rounded transition; petiole with convex anterior face and concave posterior; head and anterior pronotum densely punctate matt; red-brown extremities lighter .
. {Pachycondyla senegalensis} Senegal & Guinea, Gabon - senegalensis
-- {short description of image}TL 5.3-5.6 mm, HL 1.35 HW 0.90 mm. A very distinct form. Head with clypeus uniformly convex and smooth apart from some puncturation, laterally narrower than related species. Eyes black, flat, elongated, with 20 plus facets; some 2.5 times further from mandible bases than own length. Mandible with 13 teeth, small, black and spaced out, more inequal than picea. Propodeum notably more humped in profile than close relatives; posterior to the hump the declivity is twice as short, flat, and limited laterally by fine borders. Head very finely shagreened, somewhat shiny, remainder smooth and shiny, puncturation fine and rare. White pubescence on head and thorax, plus erect whitish hairs (less dense than on picea). Pale reddish, clypeal margin and part of gaster darker, appendages dark-yellow. .
. Pachycondyla villiersi Guinea & Liberia - villiersi
-- Dark brown-black to black --
10 {Pachycondyla ambigua}TL 5.0-6.0 mm; apical segment of funiculus relatively long (as long as three preceding together); dark brown-black .
. {Pachycondyla ambigua} West Africa, Congo Basin ?& tramp species - ambigua
-- {short description of image}TL variable 5.2-6.5 mm, largest HL 1.6 and HW 1.33 mm. Head widest posteriorly. Eyes black and small, 30-40 facets, distance from mandible bases some 1.5 times their length. Clypeus convex, but without well defined median "gibbosité", apex short and relatively large. Mandibles brown, slightly punctured, with 12 black fairly large and subequal teeth. Propodeum rectilinear in profile from both aspects, less convex than related species. Head elegantly and regularly reticulate, alitrunk near smooth with a few puncturations. Dark, black-brown or brown-red; petiole scale, tarsi and part of gaster red. .
. {Pachycondyla picea} Guinea & Gabon - picea

return to key Brachyponera-group - with short, broad alitrunk and raised mesonotum; mandibles with a distinct baso-lateral fovea

1 {short description of image} TL 4-4.5 mm; overall more slender; in full face view head with more convex sides and deeper occipital impression; mandibles unsculptured apart from sparse setal insertions; pronotal dorsum flat and more obviously bordered; pubescence finer and denser; variable brown to brown-orange West Africa & Congo Basin - decolor
-- generally dark brown to black; mandibles distinctly sculptured with relatively coarse setae 2
2 {short description of image} TL ca 5 mm; mandibles with 6-7 moderate and equisized teeth along entire inner margin, also no more than finely sculptured and uniformly dark orange; antennae similarly dark orange; promesonotum profile is a high flat topped dome; gaster with a distinctly concave anterior; with a generally silky appearance due to fineness of the pubescence sub-Saharan south into Congo Basin - ruginota
-- {short description of image}TL 5-6 mm; mandibles with 3-4 distinctly apical teeth; head with parallel sides and straight occiput; promesonotum with uneven profile; gaster with weakly convex anterior face; head and alitrunk with sparse pilosity; generally finely and densely puncturate; generally dark brown to black, appendages ferruginous; mandibles dark red to black, with fine striations and abundant short pilosity pan-African - sennaarensis

return to key Hagensia-group

1 {short description of image} TL 9.3-9.5 mm, alitrunk profile almost flat, weak shallow fovea on the mandibles, stronger punctures on the inner surface of the mandibles, with coarser teeth, and, the more rectangular, straight sided head saldanhae
-- Mandibles with a deep, oblique fovea; alitrunk profile undulating 2
2 {short description of image} TL 12.5 mm; whole body matt and very closely reticulo-punctate; mandibles striate havilandi
-- {short description of image}TL 11-12 mm; whole body quite shiny, head with very fine puncturation, visible only at high magnification peringueyi

return to key Euponera [African Trachymesopus] key - note the last species according to Schmidt & Shattuck is Parvoponera darwinii.

1 Eyes reduced to a single facet or ommatidium 2
-- Eyes small but clearly with a number of facets or ommatidia 3
2 {short description of image} TL 3.4 mm; petiole scale with convex anterior face; light yellow-rust, head slightly darker; submatt, gaster shiny .
.. {Pachycondyla suspecta} Tanzania - suspecta
-- {short description of image}TL 3.7 mm; brownish-black, posterior margins of gastral tergites and clypeus brownish-yellow, appendages ferruginous .
. {Pachycondyla aenigmatica} Gabon & South Africa - aenigmatica
3 {short description of image}TL 3.9-4.2 mm up to 4.75 mm; black, red-brown extremities and appendages; sculpture of fine dense puncturation, relatively dense pilosity all over; mandibles with a basal fovea on dorsolateral surface; clypeus carinate medially; metanotal groove very weakly impressed; dorsum of propodeum narrower than that of pronotum. Widespread - brunoi
-- TL > 5 mm 4
4 {Pachycondyla fossigera}TL 5.0-6.0 mm; broader head CI 98-100; mandibles elongate triangular, with small or reduced teeth; petiole node wider above than below; black and shiny; whole body with fine greyish pubescence .
. {Pachycondyla fossigera} South Africa - fossigera
-- {Pachycondyla darwinii}TL 4.3-4.9 mm; head almost as wide as long, CI 92-93; anterior margin of clypeus with a prominent median tooth; mandible with coarse teeth; petiole node less truncated, more rounded posteriorly, upper anterior border less clear and, in profile not forming an slightly acuminate angle; yellowish darwinii type form
Schmidt & Shattuck (2014: 35) separate the genus in Africa by the small to absent eyes, and a subpetiolar process with an anterior fenestra and/or a pair of teeth (?)
Widespread but relatively uncommon (possibly wrongly identified in Africa) - Parvoponera darwinii
Contents PONERINAE Introduction
© 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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