Ponera sinensis

AntWiki - Where Ant Biologists Share Their Knowledge
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ponera sinensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Ponera
Species: P. sinensis
Binomial name
Ponera sinensis
Wheeler, W.M., 1928

Only known from the holotype.


Taylor (1967) - The nominate species of the sinensis group, which also includes the similar and closely related Ponera oreas. P. sinensis may be distinguished from oreas by the following characters:

1. Larger size (head width 0.54 mm, opposed to 0.47-0. 5 1 mm in areas)

2. Narrower head (cephalic index 89 against 92-95).

3. Slightly higher scape index (83; 78-81 in areas)

4. Antennal club indistinctly 5-segmented, where it is 4-s.egmented in areas.

5. The 3 apical mandibular teeth occupy only the anterior 2/5 of masticatory border; no posterior denticles delimitated (this is possibly an artifact due to wear since the apical teeth look well worn on the holotype!).

6. Cephalic sculpturation consisting of a close cover of punctures about 0.006 mm in diameter, separated by distances of about 1/2 their average diameter. In areas the head is distinctly more dull, with sculpturation best described as ‘shagreening.’ It consists of similarly sized punctures, but they are almost contiguous, with very little exposed interpunctural surface. Remaining sculpturation similar in 2 species, except that most areas workers have a shining, almost apunctate, median posterior strip on the propodeal dorsum; this area is evenly punctate in sinensis.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: China (type locality), Taiwan.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Only known from the holotype.

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

  • sinensis. Ponera sinensis Wheeler, W.M. 1928c: 6 (w.) CHINA (Hong Kong). See also: Taylor, 1967a: 53.

Type Material

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.


Taylor 1967 Ponera fig 37-42


Taylor (1967) - My measurements of the holotype differ slightly from Wilson's: HL 0.61 mm; HW 0.54 mm; SL 0.45 mm; CI 89; SI 83; PW 0.41 mm; PNL 0.20 mm; PH 0.39 mm; DPW 0.35 mm; PNI 85. Note that certain characters given (see the identification section above) contradict those of Wheeler's description, which is inaccurate in places. The eyes of the holotype are not one-faceted as he claimed, but the visible left one, at least, has 4 fairly distinct facets. The oral palpi have not been dissected.