Temporal range: 23.03–0 Ma Early Miocene – Recent
| Ponera araneoides, now Rhytidoponera araneoides|
| 104 species|
3 fossil species
|At a Glance||• Gamergate|
|Based on Brady et al., 2006|
These are some of the most common ants in Australia. They are found across the continent and can be very abundant, especially in urban areas such as yards, gardens and parks. Some species, especially those found in forested areas, generally forage during the day while many of the arid zone species forage primarily in the evening and at night. In forested areas they will forage on low vegetation and trees as well as on the ground. They are general predators or scavengers, with some also taking honeydew and others showing a strong preference for seeds. Workers generally forage singly or less often in small groups. Some of the smaller species have a potent sting while others, including the larger species, have a weak sting or are unable to sting.
Nests are generally in soil either in the open or under rocks or other objects on the ground. When in the open, nests range from low and messy mounds to large mounds decorated with stones and small twigs or leaves. Species found in wet sclerophyll and rainforest often nest in rotten wood. Some rainforest species will occasionally nest arboreally (although they nest on the ground as well).
Most species lack queens and instead have mated workers that produce female brood (i.e. gamergates). In a few species, winged queens occur and are replaced by gamergates when they die.
The forward sections of the frontal lobes and the antennal sockets are separated by the broadly rounded or triangular rearward extension of the clypeus. The leading edge of the pronotum on each side just above the front legs with a small angular tooth or spine. The node of the petiole has distinct front, top and rear faces. The tips of the tibiae of the hind legs each have either a single small, simple or comb-like (pectinate) spur, or two spurs, one large and comb-like (pectinate) and one small and simple (best viewed from the front). The claws on the hind legs have a tooth at about the middle of their inner surface.
Rhytidoponera is most similar to Heteroponera in overall body shape and size. However, the claws in Rhytidoponera have a small tooth along their inner margins while in Heteroponera the claws are simple.
Keys including this Genus
Keys to Species in this Genus
World distribution based on political regions. View/Edit Data
In Rhytidoponera sp. 12, twenty-one mated workers were found in a large colony (at least 600 workers). There were few large yolky oocytes, and the dense accumulations of yellow bodies indicated that eggs were laid regularly by these gamergates. In contrast, a substantial proportion of workers confined underground had many large yolky oocytes in their ovaries. Examination of various details of oogenesis (size and appearance of basal oocytes,...) revealed that oocytes do not mature in unmated workers (Peeters 1987). Thus virgin workers store food by accumulating non-viable large oocytes in their ovaries.
Most species lack winged queens but have mated egg-laying workers called gamergates, and colonies reproduce exclusively by fission (Haskins and Whelden 1965). Yet winged queens still occur in the basal R. impressa group (unpublished phylogeny by H. Reichel), thus allowing the option of independent colony foundation (ICF). In R. impressa group, both modeling and empirical approaches showed that the proportion of queenright colonies in the coastal populations in the East decreases from north (tropical) to south (temperate), indicating that environmental changes make colony fission more successful than nonclaustral ICF by winged queens (Molet et al. 2008). This is confirmed empirically by the decrease in size of queenright colonies but not gamergate colonies. Empirical data also showed that gynes are produced in smaller quantity, but they are heavier relative to workers in both lean weight and fat weight.
Worker of R. metallica from Queensland.
Worker of R. nodifera from Queensland.
Worker of R. punctigera from Western Australia.
• Antennal segment count 12 • Antennal club absent, gradual • Palp formula 3,2; 2,2 • Total dental count 12-30 • Spur formula 1 simple-pectinate, 1 simple-pectinate; 0, 1 barbulate-pectinate;0, 0 • Sting present
• Antennal segment count 13 • Antennal club 0 • Palp formula 6,4;5,3; 4,3 • Total dental count 9-18 • Spur formula 2 (1 simple, 1 simple-pectinate);2 (1 simple, 1 pectinate);2 simple, 2 (1 simple, 1 pectinate); 1 barbulate-pectinate • Caste • Body size ()
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.
- RHYTIDOPONERA [Ectatomminae: Ectatommini]
- Rhytidoponera Mayr, 1862: 731 [as subgenus of Ectatomma]. Type-species: Ponera araneoides, by subsequent designation of Emery, 1911d: 37.
- [Type-species not Ponera metallica, incorrect subsequent designation by Wheeler, W.M. 1911f: 172; see Wheeler, W.M. 1913a: 79.]
- Rhytidoponera junior synonym of Ectatomma: Roger, 1863b: 17.
- Rhytidoponera revived from synonymy as subgenus of Ectatomma: Mayr, 1863: 453; Dalla Torre, 1893: 23.
- Rhytidoponera raised to genus: Emery, 1897d: 547; Emery, 1911d: 36.
- Rhytidoponera senior synonym of Chalcoponera: Brown, 1953c: 2; Brown, 1958g: 198.
- CHALCOPONERA [junior synonym of Rhytidoponera]
- Chalcoponera Emery, 1897d: 548. Type-species: Ponera metallica, by subsequent designation of Emery, 1911d: 39.
- Chalcoponera junior synonym of Rhytidoponera: Brown, 1953c: 2.
- Ashmead, W. H. 1905c. A skeleton of a new arrangement of the families, subfamilies, tribes and genera of the ants, or the superfamily Formicoidea. Can. Entomol. 37: 381-384 (page 382, Rhytidoponera in Pachycondylinae, Ectatommini)
- Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 175, Rhytidoponera as genus)
- Briese, D. T., Macauley, B. J. (1981). Food collection within an ant community in semi-arid Australia, with special reference to seed harvesters. Australian Journal of Ecology, 6: 1–19.PDF
- Brown, S. G. A., Heddle, R. J. (2003). Prevention of anaphylaxis with ant venom immunotherapy. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology 3:511–516.
- Brown, W. L., Jr. 1953c. Characters and synonymies among the genera of ants. Part I. Breviora 11: 1-13 (page 2, Rhytidoponera senior synonym of Chalcoponera)
- Brown, W. L., Jr. (1954). Systematic and other notes on some of the smaller species of the ant genus Rhytidoponera Mayr. Breviora 33:1–11.
- Brown, W. L., Jr. 1958g. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. II. Tribe Ectatommini (Hymenoptera). Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 118: 173-362 (page 198, Rhytidoponera senior synonym of Chalcoponera)
- Cavill, G. W. K., Robertson, P. L. (1965). Ant venoms, attractants, and repellents. Science (Washington, D. C.) 149:1337–1345.
- Clark, J. 1936. A revision of Australian species of Rhytidoponera Mayr (Formicidae). Mem. Natl. Mus. Vic. 9: 14-89 (page 16, Key to species (Australia))
- Crozier, R. H., Pamilo, P. (1986). Relatedness within and between colonies of a queenless ant species of the genus Rhytidoponera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomologia Generalis 11:113–117.
- Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 23, Rhytidoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
- Davidson, D. W., Morton, S. R. (1981). Myrmecochory in some plants (F. chenopodiaceae) of the Australian arid zone. Oecologia (Berlin) 50:357–366.
- Eastwood, R. (2004). Successive replacement of tending ant species at aggregations of scale insects (Hemiptera: Margarodidae and Eriococcidae) on Eucalyptus in south-east Queensland. Australian Journal of Entomology 43:1–4.
- Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 767, Rhytidoponera in Ponerinae, Ectatommini)
- Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 767, Rhytidoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
- Emery, C. 1897d. Viaggio di Lamberto Loria nella Papuasia orientale. XVIII. Formiche raccolte nella Nuova Guinea dal Dott. Lamberto Loria. [part]. Ann. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. 38[=(2(18): 546-576 (page 547, Rhytidoponera as genus)
- Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 37, Type-species: Ponera araneoides, by subsequent designation)
- Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 36, Rhytidoponera as genus)
- Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 26, Rhytidoponera in Pachycondylinae, Ectatommini)
- Fiedler, K. (2001). Ants that associate with Lycaeninae butterfly larvae: diversity, ecology and biogeography. Diversity and Distributions 7:45–60.
- Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 236, Rhytidoponera in Pachycondylinae, Ectatommini; Rhytidoponera as genus)
- Haskins, C. P. (1970). Researches on the biology and social behavior of primitive ants. pp. 356–388 in Aronson, L. R., Tobach, E., Lehrman, D. S., Rosenblatt, J. S. Development and evolution of behavior. Essays in memory of T. C. Schneirla. Freeman.
- Hughes, L., Westoby, M. (1992). Effect of diaspore characteristics on removal of seeds adapted for dispersal by ants. Ecology 73:1300–1312.
- Hughes, L., Westoby, M. (1992). Fate of seeds adapted for dispersal by ants in Australian sclerophyll vegetation. Ecology 73:1285–1299.
- Lattke, J. E. (1994). Phylogenetic relationships and classification of ectatommine ants. Entomologica Scandinavica 25:105–119.
- Maschwitz, U., Go, C., Dorow, W. H. O., Buschinger, A. and Kohout, R. J. (2003). Polyrhachis loweryi (Formicinae): A guest ant parasitizing Rhytidoponera sp. (Ponerinae) in Queensland, Australia. Insectes Sociaux 50:69–76.
- Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 731, Rhytidoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma [Type-species not Ponera metallica, incorrect subsequent designation by Wheeler, W.M. 1911f: 172; see Wheeler, W.M. 1913a: 79.] )
- Mayr, G. 1863a. Formicidarum index synonymicus. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 13: 385-460 (page 453, Rhytidoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
- Mayr, G. 1887. Südamerikanische Formiciden. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 37: 511-632 (page 539, Rhytidoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
- Molet, M., van Baalen, M. & Peeters, C. 2008. Shift in colonial reproductive strategy associated with a tropical-temperate gradient in Rhytidoponera ants. The American Naturalist 172: 75-87. PDF
- Nipperess, D. A., Beattie, A. J. (2004). Morphological dispersion of Rhytidoponera assemblages: The importance of spatial scale and null model. Ecology (10)85:2728–2736.
- Peeters, C. 1987. The reproductive division of labour in the queenless ant Rhytidoponera sp. 12. Insectes Soc. 34: 75-86. PDF (cf. R. mayri)
- Peeters, C. 1988. Nestmate discrimination in a ponerine ant (Rhytidoponera sp. 12) without a queen caste and with a low intra-nest relatedness. Insectes Soc. 35: 34-46.
- Roger, J. 1863b. Verzeichniss der Formiciden-Gattungen und Arten. Berl. Entomol. Z. 7(B Beilage: 1-65 (page 17, Rhytidoponera as junior synonym of Ectatomma)
- Stevens, M. M., James, D. G., O'Malley, K. J., Coombes, N. E. (1998). Seasonal variations in foraging by ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in two New South Wales citrus orchards. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 38:889–896.
- Ward, P. S. 1980a. A systematic revision of the Rhytidoponera impressa group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Australia and New Guinea. Aust. J. Zool. 28: 475-498 (page 478, Key to species (impressa-group))
- Ward, P. S. (1980). Genetic variation and population differentiation in the Rhytidoponera impressa group, a species complex of ponerine ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Evolution 34:1060–1076.
- Ward, P. S. 1984. A revision of the ant genus Rhytidoponera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in New Caledonia. Aust. J. Zool. 32: 131-175 (page 131, Key to species (New Caledonia))
- Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 135, Rhytidoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
- Wheeler, W. M. 1911g. A list of the type species of the genera and subgenera of Formicidae. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 21: 157-175 (page 172, Type-species not Ponera metallica as designated by Wheeler.)
- Wheeler, W. M. 1913a. Corrections and additions to "List of type species of the genera and subgenera of Formicidae". Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 23: 77-83 (page 79, Rhytidoponera as genus)
- Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 643, Rhytidoponera in Pachycondylinae, Ectatommini; Rhytidoponera as genus)
- Wilson, E. O. 1958g. Studies on the ant fauna of Melanesia III. Rhytidoponera in western Melanesia and the Moluccas. IV. The tribe Ponerini. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 119: 303-371 (page 304, Key to species (Melanesia and Moluccas))