Ponera szaboi

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Ponera szaboi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Ponera
Species: P. szaboi
Binomial name
Ponera szaboi
Wilson, 1957

Ponera szaboi P casent0249232.jpg

Ponera szaboi D casent0249232.jpg

Specimen Label

Known only from workers taken in coastal rain forest at several NE New Guinea localities. Some of these records are noted as being strays taken from the ground in primary lowland rain forest.


Taylor (1967) - Preliminary diagnosed by small size, with the tenuis group characters (4-segmented antennal club, lack of a differentiated mesmetanotal suture). Distinguished from Ponera petila by characters given in the diagnosis of that species. Differing from Ponera szentivanyi as follows:

1. Size smaller (HW 0.30-0.31 mm, PW 0.23 mm, DPW 0.15 mm; opposed to 0.34 mm, 0.28 mm and 0.21-0.24 mm respectively in szentivanyi).

2. Scapes relatively short (SI 79-83, against 94 in szentivanyi).

3. Sculpturation of mesosoma less intense. In petila its lateral surfaces are very feebly shagreened, to smooth and shining; in szentivanyi they are moderately shagreened to opaque.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: New Guinea (type locality), Solomon Islands, Wallis and Futuna Islands.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Little is known about the biology of Ponera szaboi

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.

  • mocsaryi. Cryptopone mocsaryi Szabó, 1910b: 186, 2 figs. (w.) NEW GUINEA. Combination in Pseudocryptopone: Wheeler, W.M. 1933g: 14. [Junior secondary homonym of Ponera mocsaryi Emery, 1900c: 320, above.] Replacement name: Ponera szaboi Wilson, 1957b: 371.
  • szaboi. Ponera szaboi Wilson, 1957b: 371. Replacement name for Cryptopone mocsaryi Szabó, 1910b: 186. [Junior secondary homonym of Ponera mocsaryi Emery, 1900c: 320.] See also: Taylor, 1967a: 103.

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 83-87



HW 0.30-0.31 mm; HL 0.40 mm; SL 0.25 mm; CI 76-78; SI 79-83; PW 0.23 mm; petiole height (single measurement) 0.24 mm; petiolar node length 0.15 mm; dorsal petiole width (single measurement) 0.15 mm. Mandible linear-subtriangular. The apical half of the masticatory border occupied by three distinct, acute teeth; the basal half occupied by an indeterminate number of minute denticles. Eyes minute, consisting of a single ommatidium. Antennal club massive, distinctly 4-jointed, considerably longer than the entire remainder of the funiculus. Head in full-face view subrectangular, with very feebly convex sides and feebly concave posterior border. Petiolar node seen from the side relatively thick, tapering slightly dorsally, with a feebly convex dorsal border; seen from directly above, with the posterior face aligned with the plane of vision, the node forms distinctly more than a half-circle, and the posterior border appears almost perfectly straight. Subpetiolar process well-developed, its apical angle obtuse.

Mandibles smooth and shining; clypeus smooth and feebly shining; remainder of head finely and evenly shagreened and subopaque. All of alitruncal surfaces finely shagreened and subopaque, except the episterna and declivitous faces of the propodeum, which bear only scattered fine punctures and are relatively smooth and more or less shining. Various surfaces of the petiolar node bearing variably dense but fine and separated punctures, and otherwise smooth and more or less shining. Gastric tergital surfaces shagreened and sub opaque, except for the anterior declivity of the first gastric tergite, which is smoother and feebly shining.

Pilosity and pubescence as described for P. caledonica Wilson.

Alitrunk and petiole yellowish brown; head and gaster somewhat darker, approaching medium brown; appendages nearly clear yellow.

Taylor (1967) - The original description did not mention absence of an incised mesometanotal suture. Palpal forula: Maxillary 2: Labial 2 (by inspection). Diagnostically important sculptural characters thus: head subopaque, closely punctate, punctures coarser and more closely packed than in petila. Mesosomal dorsum moderately shining, closely and finely punctate (much as on frons of petila), mesonotal and propodeal dorsa distinctly more coarsely and closely punctate than pronotum. Dimensions of Wilson’s (1957) specimens are: HW 0.30-0.31; HL 0.40; SL 0.25 mm; CI 76-78; SI 79-83; PW 0.23 mm; PNL 0.15 mm; PH 0.24 mm; DPW 0.15 mm; PNI 65.

Type Material

Taylor (1967) - Frederich-Wilhemshafen (=Madang) NE New Guinea.


  • Szabó, J. 1910d. Uj hangya Uj-Guineából. Rovartani Lapok 17: 186 (page 186, [Junior secondary homonym of Ponera mocsaryi Emery, 1900c: 320.] )
  • Taylor, R. W. 1967a. A monographic revision of the ant genus Ponera Latreille (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pac. Insects Monogr. 13: 1-112 (page 103, see also)
  • Wilson, E. O. 1957b. The tenuis and selenophora groups of the ant genus Ponera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 116: 355-386 (page 371, Replacement name for Cyrptopone mocsaryi)