Ponerinae

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Ponerinae
Myopias tenuis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, 1835
Diversity
47 genera
1,383 species
13 fossil genera
86 fossil species

Species of ponerines range from small and cryptic to large and conspicuous. They are found throughout Australia from pristine habitats to disturbed sites such as gardens and parks, and can be quite abundant. Workers are predacious, generally forage on the ground, and some specialise on a very limited range of prey. In addition, many species have powerful and painful stings used for subduing prey and as a defensive measure against intruders.

There are about 2000 described species and subspecies in the subfamily Ponerinae, placed in 42 genera. Within Australia there are about 200 described species in 10 genera, with numerous species yet to be studied in detail.

Identification

The mesosoma is attached to the gaster with a single distinct segment, the petiole. The gaster usually has a slight but distinct impression between the first and second segments. In a few other cases (species of Odontomachus) the gaster is smooth and uniform, but here the mandibles are elongate and straight, with teeth only at the extreme tip, and attached close together along the front margin of the head. The upper surface of the tip of the gaster (the pygidium) is rounded and lacks a row of spines or teeth on its outer and trailing edge. The sting is present (although often retracted and difficult to see).

Most species in this large and diverse subfamily can be identified by the presence of a single-segmented petiole combined with a constriction between the first and second segment of the gaster. In the few cases where the constriction is absent (Odontomachus), the overall shape of the gaster or the shape of the head can be used to identify these ants (see above for details).

Distribution and Habitats

Australian distribution Check distribution from AntMaps.

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