Ponera augusta

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Ponera augusta
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Ponera
Species: P. augusta
Binomial name
Ponera augusta
Taylor, 1967

Ponera augusta casent0172424 profile 1.jpg

Ponera augusta casent0172424 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

P. augusta occurs in sympatric association with Ponera elegantula at Aiyura; a single specimen of the latter was included in the Berlese funnel sample which yielded the augusta types.


Taylor (1967) - Known only from the eastern highlands of New Guinea. Easily distinguished from other Ponera species of similar size by the following set of characters: 1. Large eyes with 11 to 15 facets. 2. Broad head (cephalic index 90-93). 3. Long scapes, which clearly exceed the occipital border by a distance almost equal to their maximum thickness. 4. Coarsely punctate-opaque sculpturing on genae and on mesosomal dorsum. 5. Mesometanotal suture distinctly incised.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: New Guinea (type locality).

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Distribution based on specimens

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The above specimen data are provided by AntWeb. Please see Ponera augusta for further details


Nothing is known about the biology of Ponera augusta.

The general biology of species in the genus was summarized by Taylor (1967): Ponera are small ants that nest in rotting logs in forested areas or under stones in nonforested situations. In the tropical areas specimens are rarely encountered away from rain forest. In temperate areas, however, species may occur in relatively lightly forested areas. This appears to be the case with Ponera japonica, Ponera pennsylvanica and especially with Ponera coarctata. The Australian Ponera leae is essentially limited to rain forest in the northern parts of its range, but further south it may be found in dry, lightly forested areas.

Foraging is probably cryptobiotic, though some New Guinea species have been taken straying on the ground surface. Little information is available concerning feeding. However, most species are probably insectivorous. I have conducted feeding experiments with some of the New Guinea and Samoan species, including Ponera xenagos, Ponera elegantula, Ponera tenuis, Ponera incerta and Ponera woodwardi. These were unsuccessful with the larger species, except elegantula, which accepted moderately large (8-12 mm) campodeid and japygid Diplura. Tenuis and incerta accepted smaller (4-6 mm) campodeids, isotomid and sminthurid Collembola, and small newly hatched spiders (2 mm long). Negative feeding response was obtained with eggs and larvae of various ants, small crushed insects of various orders, and small myriapods. Stray workers were never observed carrying prey, and distinct middens of insect or other remains were not located near nests.

Colonies usually contain about 30 workers. Larvae and pupae are not segregated in most cases, but occasionally aggregations of pupae were observed. These may have included the total brood of the colonies involved. Larvae are attached to the floor or walls of the nest galleries by the glutinous abdominal tubercles described above, and the ants move them high up on the walls or ceilings of artificial nests, if they are flooded. Details of nuptial behavior of pennsylvanica were given by Wheeler (1900), and Haskins & Enzmann (1938). The flights appear to be of a pattern typical for ants, with the alates meeting in the air and mating there or on the ground. Colony foundation is non-claustral and independent in pennsylvanica (Kannowski 1959); judging from my observations this is typical for the genus.


The sexual castes, larvae and pupae are not known (as reported by Taylor, 1967)


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • augusta. Ponera augusta Taylor, 1967a: 68, figs. 35, 59, 60 (w.) NEW GUINEA.



Taylor 1967 Ponera fig 59-64

HL .0.62 mm; HW 0.57 mm; SL 0.51 mm; CI 92; SI 89; PW 0.44 mm; PNL 0.22 mm; PH 0.43 mm; DPW 0.36 mm; PNI 82. General structure as shown in accompanying figures. Apical 1/2 of masticatory mandibular border with 3 strong teeth, remaining border with a series of 8 or 9 minute, irregular denticles. Clypeus slightly produced in center, but not dentate. Eyes relatively large, maximum diameter approximately 0.06 mm, composed of about 11 or 12 indistinct facets; situated about 0.93 X the distance from lateral occipital border to midpoint of anterior genal border. Scapes surpassing median occipital border by about 3/4 their maximum thickness. No antennal club differentiated, but funicular apex incrassate; apical antennomere about as long as the 2 preceding together.

Dorsal mesometanotal and lateral mesonotal sutures sharply incised. Posterolateral propodeal edges raised, forming angles of about 800, viewed from above. Node, from above, transverse, dorsal face forming much less than a half-circle, posterior border almost straight. Petiolar profile as in figure 60. Subpetiolar process low, fenestra small but distinct; posterolateral teeth obtuse, weakly developed.

Mandibles smooth and shining; front and sides of head and clypeus opaque, closely and coarsely punctate, the punctures almost contiguous, about 0.008 mm in diameter; scapes coarsely shagreened. Entire dorsal and lateral faces of mesosoma subopaque, coarsely and closely punctate; puncturation of sides of propodeum partly effaced. Punctures of pronotal dorsum about 0.008 mm in diameter, separated by distances about equal to 1/2 their maximum diameter. Mesonotal and propodeal punctures slightly larger and more dense; those of mesonotum more closely spaced than elsewhere on mesosoma but not as close as in P. alpha. Puncturation of sides of mesosoma finer and less dense than on dorsum, mesepisternum sub-opaque with a dense cover of irregular large punctures, especially on its lower 1/2, striation of metepisternal area indistinct, almost vestigial. Popodeal declivity strongly shining, with microsculpture as described above for P. alpha. Posterior face of node smooth and shining, its remaining surfaces, and gaster, moderately shining, with a close cover of fairly large pilosity-bearing punctures, less distinctly impressed than those of mesosoma.

Short erect to sub-erect pilosity sparse on mandibles, scapes, head and mesosomal dorsum; more abundant on clypeus, apex of node, subpetiolar process, and gaster, where the apical and ventral hairs are longest. Moderately dense, fine white pubescence everywhere abundant.

Color dark brown, almost black; subpetiolar process and apex of gaster infuscated yellowish brown. Scapes dull medium yellowish brown; mandibles and legs bright medium yellowish brown.

Paratypes. 5 paratype workers from the same berlesate as the holotype have the following dimensions: HL 0.60-0.61 mm; HW 0.55-0.56 mm; SL 0.49-0.50 mm; CI 90-93; SI 87-91; PW 0.42-0.44 mm; PNL 0.21-0.22 mm; PH 0.40-0.41 mm; DPW 0.35 mm; PNI 81-83. Agreeing with holotype in all general features, including details of mandibular, ocular and antennal structure. The eyes range from 0.06 to 0.07 mm in diameter and the scape may exceed the median occipital border by as much as its maximum thickness. Palpal formula: Maxillary 2: Labial 2 (1 specimen inspected).

Ponera augusta casent0172424 label 1.jpg

Type Material

NE NEW GUINEA: Aiyura, Eastern Highlands, 1900 m. The type series was taken in a Berlese funnel sample of leafmold from the floor of disturbed rain forest, VI.1962 (R. W. Taylor, acc. 2130). Holotype and paratypes deposited in Museum of Comparative Zoology collection (Type No. 30922), additional single paratypes in Bernice P. Bishop Museum, The Natural History Museum and Australian National Insect Collection).


  • Taylor, R. W. 1967a. A monographic revision of the ant genus Ponera Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pac. Insects Monogr. 13: 1-112 (page 68, figs. 35, 59, 60 worker described)