Brachyponera lutea

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Brachyponera lutea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Brachyponera
Species: B. lutea
Binomial name
Brachyponera lutea
(Mayr, 1862)

Pachycondyla lutea casent0217564 p 1 high.jpg

Pachycondyla lutea casent0217564 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


Easily the most abundant species in the group, and occurs throughout Australia. Typically this species can be found cohabiting with termites under stones or rotting logs, and the latter are a prey item. As well as being widespread in native woodlands, B. lutea is common in suburban areas, where anecdotal reports suggest it not infrequently stings people tending their gardens. (Heterick 2009)

Photo Gallery

  • Brachyponera lutea worker found descending the trunk of a tree on a rainy day. Kalamunda, Perth, Western Australia. Photo by Farhan Bokhari, 19 July 2009.


Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb



Size difference between queens and workers is the highest among all Ponerinae. This is associated with the ability of newly mated queens to start new colonies without foraging outside the nest ('claustral') (Haskins & Haskins 1950).

Dealate queen, male and worker, showing the very pronounced dimorphism in female body size. From Wheeler 1933
Larvae and cocoons from a nest of B. lutea excavated in New South Wales, Australia. The two sizes of cocoons show the very pronounced dimorphism in body size between queens and workers. Photograph by C. Peeters.



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • lutea. Ponera lutea Mayr, 1862: 721 (w.q.) AUSTRALIA (New South Wales).
    • Mayr, 1865: 67 (m.); Crawley, 1918: 86 (m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1971b: 1207 (l.); Imai, Crozier & Taylor, 1977: 347 (k.).
    • Combination in Euponera (Brachyponera): Emery, 1901a: 47;
    • combination in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 307;
    • combination in Brachyponera: Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1971b: 1207; Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, 2014: 80.
    • Status as species: Roger, 1863b: 16; Mayr, 1863: 449; Mayr, 1865: 66 (redescription); Mayr, 1876: 88; Mayr, 1879: 662 (in key); Emery, 1887b: 433; Dalla Torre, 1893: 40; Forel, 1907h: 271; Emery, 1911d: 84; Emery, 1914b: 180; Forel, 1915b: 22; Crawley, 1915b: 232; Crawley, 1918: 86; Poulton & Crawley, 1922: 120; Wheeler, W.M. 1933i: 93 (redescription); Wheeler, W.M. 1934d: 140; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 23; Taylor, 1987a: 9; Bolton, 1995b: 307; Heterick, 2009: 135.
    • Senior synonym of clara: Bolton, 1995b: 307.
    • Senior synonym of socialis: Emery, 1911d: 84; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 23; Taylor, 1987a: 9; Bolton, 1995b: 307.
  • clara. Euponera (Brachyponera) lutea var. clara Crawley, 1915a: 133 (w.) AUSTRALIA (Northern Territory).
    • Combination in Brachyponera: Taylor & Brown, 1985: 23.
    • Subspecies of lutea: Taylor & Brown, 1985: 23; Taylor, 1987a: 10.
    • Junior synonym of lutea: Bolton, 1995b: 304.
  • socialis. Ectatomma socialis MacLeay, 1873: 369 (w.) AUSTRALIA (New South Wales).
    • Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 26.
    • Junior synonym of lutea: Emery, 1911d: 84; Taylor & Brown, 1985: 23; Taylor, 1987a: 9; Bolton, 1995b: 309.
  • solitaria. Ponera solitaria Smith, F. 1874: 404 (w.) JAPAN.
    • [Junior primary homonym of Ponera solitaria Smith, 1860b: 103.]
    • Forel, 1900e: 267 (q.).
    • Combination in Euponera (Brachyponera): Emery, 1901a: 47;
    • combination in Euponera (Trachymesopus): Santschi, 1937h: 363.
    • Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 42; Forel, 1900e: 267, 284; Wheeler, W.M. 1906c: 306; Emery, 1909c: 366; Yano, 1910: 418; Emery, 1911d: 84; Forel, 1912l: 339; Santschi, 1925f: 82; Wheeler, W.M. 1928c: 6; Wheeler, W.M. 1928d: 98; Wheeler, W.M. 1929f: 2; Wheeler, W.M. 1930h: 60; Santschi, 1937h: 363; Teranishi, 1940: 7; Azuma, 1950: 24; Creighton, 1950a: 45; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 786; Azuma, 1951: 86; Chapman & Capco, 1951: 64; Azuma, 1953: 1; Smith, M.R. 1958c: 111; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1341; Guénard & Dunn, 2012: 61 (error).
    • Senior synonym of chinensis: Brown, 1958h: 22; Onoyama, 1980: 196; Bolton, 1995b: 309.
    • Replacement name: Ponera nigrita subsp. chinensis Emery, 1895k: 460.
    • [Note: chinensis junior synonym of solitaria Smith, F. 1874 (synonymy by Brown, 1958h: 22); hence chinensis first available replacement name.]

Type Material



  • 2n = 16 (Australia) (Imai et al., 1977).


  • Bolton, B. 1995b. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 504 pp. (page 307, Senior synonym of clara)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1995a. [Untitled. Taxonomic changes in Pachycondyla attributed to Brown.] Pp. 302-311 in: Bolton, B. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 504 pp. (page 307, Combination in Pachycondyla)
  • Clark, J. 1929a. Contributions to the fauna of Rottnest Island. No. III. The ants. J. R. Soc. West. Aust. 15:55-56. (distribution)
  • Craig, R., Crozier, R. H. 1978a. Caste-specific locus expression in ants. Isozyme Bull. 11:64-65. (enzyme systems)
  • Crawley, W. C. 1918. Some new Australian ants. Entomol. Rec. J. Var. 30: 86-92 (page 86, queen described)
  • Crawley, W. C. 1922c. Notes on some Australian ants. Biological notes by E. B. Poulton, D.Sc., M.A., F.R.S., and notes and descriptions of new forms by W. C. Crawley, B.A., F.E.S., F.R.M.S. [part] Entomol. Mon. Mag. 58:118-120. (biology)
  • Emery, C. 1901b. Notes sur les sous-familles des Dorylines et Ponérines (Famille des Formicides). Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 45: 32-54 (page 47, Combination in Euponera (Brachyponera))
  • Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 84, senior synonym of socialis)
  • Haskins, C. P.; Haskins, E. F. 1950. Note on the method of colony foundation of the ponerine ant Brachyponera (Euponera) lutea Mayr. Psyche (Cambridge) 57:1-9.
  • Heterick, B. E. 2009. A guide to the ants of South-western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 76:1-206.
  • Imai, H. T., Crozier, R. H., Taylor, R. W. 1977. Karyotype evolution in Australian ants. Chromosoma (Berlin) 59:341-393.
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 721, worker, queen described)
  • Mayr, G. 1865. Formicidae. In: Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte "Novara" um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859. Zoologischer Theil. Bd. II. Abt. 1. Wien: K. Gerold's Sohn, 119 pp. (page 66, male described)
  • Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, S.O. 2014. The higher classification of the ant subfamily Ponerinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with a review of ponerine ecology and behavior. Zootaxa 3817, 1–242 (doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3817.1.1).
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1971b. Ant larvae of the subfamily Ponerinae: second supplement. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 6 64: 1197-1217 (page 1207, larva described, Combination in Brachyponera)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1933i. Colony founding among ants, with an account of some primitive Australian species. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, viii + 179 pp. (page 93, see also)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1936e. Ecological relations of ponerine and other ants to termites. Proc. Am. Acad. Arts Sci. 71:159-243. (association with termites)
  • York, A. 1994. The long-term effects of fire on forest ant communities: management implications for the conservation of biodiveristy. Mem. Qld Mus. 36:231-239. (relation to fire)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Andersen A. N., B. D. Hoffman, and J. Somes. 2003. Ants as indicators of minesite restoration: community recovery at one of eight rehabilitation sites in central Queensland. Ecological Management and Restoration 4: 12-19.
  • Andersen A. N., J. Lanoue, and I. Radford. 2010. The ant fauna of the remote Mitchell Falls area of tropical north-western Australia: Biogeography, environmental relationships and conservation significance. Journal of Insect Conservation 14: 647-661.
  • Emery C. 1914. Formiche d'Australia e di Samoa raccolte dal Prof. Silvestri nel 1913. Bollettino del Laboratorio di Zoologia Generale e Agraria della Reale Scuola Superiore d'Agricoltura. Portici 8: 179-186.
  • Forel A. 1893. Nouvelles fourmis d'Australie et des Canaries. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 37: 454-466.
  • Heterick B. E., B. Durrant, and N. R. Gunawardene. 2010. The ant fauna of the Pilbara Bioregion, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 78: 157-167.
  • Heterick B. E., M. Lythe, and C; Smithyman. 2012. Urbanisation factors impacting on ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) biodiversity in the Perth metropolitan area, Western Australia: Two case studies. Urban Ecosyst. DOI 10.1007/s11252-012-0257-23
  • Read J. L., and A. N. Andersen. 2000. The value of ants as early warning bioindicators: responses to pulsed cattle grazing at an Australian arid zone locality. Journal of Arid Environments 45: 231-251.
  • Schnell M. R., A. J. Pik, and J. M. Dangerfield. 2003. Ant community succession within eucalypt plantations on used pasture and implications for taxonomic sufficiency in biomonitoring. Austral Ecology 28: 553–565.
  • Taylor R. W. 1987. A checklist of the ants of Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) Division of Entomology Report 41: 1-92.