Neoponera aenescens

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Neoponera aenescens
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Neoponera
Species: N. aenescens
Binomial name
Neoponera aenescens
(Mayr, 1870)

Pachycondyla aenescens casent0249127 p 1 high.jpg

Pachycondyla aenescens casent0249127 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Workers of this species are fast and wary. Few nests of this species have been found. Most specimens have been collected from pitfall traps and litter samples.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010):

The workers of N. aenescens could be confused with Pachycondyla harpax but can be easily separated as the metanotal suture of N. harpax does not break the integument on the dorsum of the mesosoma. Neoponera aenescens differs from Neoponera carbonaria in lacking the shiny appearance of the dorsum of the head and the pronotum although bluish or greenish reflections may be present. Neoponera aenescens is very similar to Neoponera schoedli. It can be separated by the roughly sculptured and dull mesopleuron, which is smooth and glossy in N. schoedli. The shape of the petiole would separate N. aenescens from Neoponera fisheri and Neoponera luteola, in which the petiole is not narrowed gradually toward the apex. The shape of the petiole would separate N. aenescens from several other species including Pachycondyla striata, Pachycondyla impressa and Pachycondyla crassinoda in which the petiole is rectangular-shaped. Neoponera aenescens could be confused with Neoponera eleonorae and Neoponera fauveli, but differs in that the petiole is broader than long when viewed from above (longer than broad N. eleonorae and N. fauveli).

The female of N. aenescens would probably be nearly identical to what would be expected of the female of Neoponera emiliae (unknown), probably differing in having a concave medial border of the clypeus (expected to be completely convex in the unknown female of N. emiliae based on the form of the worker). The propodeal spiracle may be circular in the female of N. emiliae, not elongated as in N. aenescens. Otherwise they would be expected to be similar, especially as the shape of the petiole of the female of N. aenescens is identical to that of the worker of N. emiliae. This shows the apparent close relationship between the aenescens and crassinoda species complexes and the lack of importance of the shape of the propodeal spiracle in the phylogeny of the species of Neoponera .

Two workers of N. aenescens in the LACM (Trujillo, Venezuela, via Boconó Guaramacal, Parque Laguna de los Cedros, 12-vi-1986, J. Lattke) are somewhat intermediate between N. schoedli and N. aenescens, but are considered to be N. aenescens as they have punctate heads (but smoother and more shining with less dense punctures than the typical N. aenescens) and the mesopleuron is completely striate, not mostly smooth as in N. schoedli.


Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Bolivia, Colombia (type locality), Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


These ants have been collected in wet tropical rain and cloud forest, montane forest, to dry oak forest at 1150 - 2300 m.


Mackay and Mackay (2010): "One colony was nesting under a stone. Alate females were collected in a nest in August (Colombia). Loose winged sexuals were collected in June (Panamá), July (Costa Rica [Forel, 1908]), between January and July (Ecuador, canopy fogging), August (Costa Rica) and December (Ecuador). Dealate females were extracted from litter in June (Costa Rica, Panamá), others were collected in October (Perú) and December (Colombia). Three dealate females were collected in a rotten log, suggesting pleometrosis (multiple females forming a new nest). These ants are parasitized by Apocephalus constrictus (Phoridae)."

Regional Accounts

Costa Rica

Longino, Ants of Costa Rica: "This species is a common inhabitant of cloud forest habitats, where it is usually the only large, conspicuous Neoponera. I have often observed foraging workers on roads and trails. Workers may be seen foraging day or night. Most of my collections are from sifted litter samples from the forest floor leaf litter. I once observed an alate queen high in the canopy of a large oak tree in Monteverde.





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

  • aenescens. Pachycondyla aenescens Mayr, 1870a: 396 (w.) COLOMBIA (“New Granada”).
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 194), 13 paralectotype workers, 3 paralectotype males.
    • Type-locality: lectotype Colombia (“New Granada”): (no further data); paralectotypes with same data.
    • Type-depository: NHMW.
    • Emery, 1890b: 42 (q.); Forel, 1899c: 10 (m.).
    • Combination in Euponera (Mesoponera): Emery, 1901a: 47;
    • combination in Mesoponera: Kempf, 1972a: 141;
    • combination in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 302;
    • combination in Neoponera: Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, 2014: 151.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1890a: 72 (in key); Emery, 1890b: 42; Dalla Torre, 1893: 32; Emery, 1894k: 48; Forel, 1899c: 10; Forel, 1908b: 37; Emery, 1911d: 82; Kempf, 1972a: 141; Bolton, 1995b: 302; Mackay, Mackay, et al. 2008: 185; Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 194 (redescription); Bezděčková, et al. 2015: 123; Fernández & Guerrero, 2019: 533.
    • Distribution: Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Venezuela.

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



From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The worker is a moderate sized ant (total length about 9 mm). The anterior border of the clypeus is indented medially with the region depressed; the eye is relatively large and is located about one diameter from the insertion of the man-dible (side view). The scape extends about two funicular segments past the posterior lateral corner of the head. The malar carina is not developed anterior to the eye, but is represented by a swollen region near the base of the mandible. The pronotal shoulder is swollen and nearly forms a carina; the metanotal suture is depressed on the dorsum of the mesosoma and divides the integument. The petiole is noticeably narrowed toward the apex. The stridulatory file is present on the dorsum of the gaster. The metasternal process consists of two widely spaced triangular lobes, similar to those of P. schoedli and P. fauveli.

Erect hairs are moderately abundant on all surfaces including the dorsum of the mesosoma and the petiole. Erect hairs are absent or sparse (1 - 2) on the scape. Most of the mandible is roughly sculptured, but it is smooth and shiny near the apex. The head and mesosoma are mostly punctate with some evidence of striae, especially on the medial part of the clypeus (longitudinal), the dorsum of the head, the mesopleuron and the side of the propodeum. The petiole is finely punctate and some areas, especially the posterior face, are partially smooth and shiny. The gaster is very finely sculptured and mostly shiny.

The worker is mostly black with the appendages slightly lighter in color.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The female is a large (total length 12 - 13 mm) black ant, similar to the worker, with the malar carina being slightly developed near the base of the mandibles. The mandibles have about 12 teeth, with alternating large and small teeth. The anterior border of the clypeus is convex, but with the medial section being notably concave. The eyes are large, with the maximum diameter (0.5 - 0.7 mm) being greater than the distance to the anterior edge of the head (side view). The ocelli are small (lateral 0.08 mm - maximum diameter of medial ocellus 0.13 mm); the medial ocellus is located about two diameters from the lateral ocellus. The scape (2.76 mm) extends nearly the first two funicular segments past the posterior lateral corner. The pronotal shoulder is swollen and nearly forms a carina; the propodeal spiracle is elongated. The shape of the petiole is quite different from that of the worker, being narrower with a slightly concave anterior face and a broadly rounded posterior face, which meets the anterior face at the anterior edge. The posterior lateral margins are sharp. The subpetiolar process consists of a thick lobe.

Erect hairs are scattered on most surfaces, moderately long (most about 0.2 mm in length, a few up to 0.6 mm) and are present on the mandibles, clypeus, dorsal and ventral surfaces of the head, sides of the head, the scape has a few scattered suberect hairs, moderately abundant erect hairs are present on the mesosoma, petiole and gaster; the hairs on the legs are mostly suberect.

The mandibles are finely striate, with scattered elongate punctures, the middle of the clypeus is longitudinally striate, the dorsum of the head is finely and densely punctate, the sculpture on the dorsum of the mesosoma is similar, except the punctures are coarser on the pronotum, the sides of the mesosoma are mostly finely striolate and moderately shining, the petiole is finely punctate and shining, as is the gaster.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The male is a large (total length 12 mm) black ant. The anterior clypeal border is weakly convex and not concave medially as in the worker and female (a probable male from Tiputini, Ecuador has a concave anterior border). The mandibles are tiny. The ocelli are large, approximately as large as the length between them. The petiole is thick when viewed in profile, with a rounded apex.

Erect hairs are sparse with a few on the dorsum of the head, several on the ventral surface of the head, scattered on the mesosoma, petiole and gaster. Appressed pubescence is very fine and abundant on all surfaces, giving the surfaces a pruinose appearance.

Surfaces are coriaceous or finely punctate, but weakly shining.

Type Material

Colombia. Lectotype worker, 13 paralectotype workers, 3 paralectotype males seen, NHMW (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


The name of this species comes from the Latin word aeneus, which means brazen and refers to the color. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


  • 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 302, Combination in Pachycondyla)
  • Emery, C. 1890c. Studii sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 22: 38-80 (page 42, queen described)
  • 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 (Mesoponera))
  • Forel, A. 1899b. Formicidae. [part]. Biol. Cent.-Am. Hym. 3: 1-24 (page 10, male described)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1972b. Catálogo abreviado das formigas da regia~o Neotropical. Stud. Entomol. 15: 3-344 (page 141, Combination in Mesoponera)
  • Mackay, W. P., and E. E. Mackay 2010. The Systematics and Biology of the New World Ants of the Genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellon Press, Lewiston. Information from this publication is used with permission from the authors.
  • Mayr, G. 1870a. Formicidae novogranadenses. Sitzungsber. Kais. Akad. Wiss. Wien Math.-Naturwiss. Cl. Abt. I 61: 370-417 (page 396, worker 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).

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Fernández F. 2008. Subfamilia Ponerinae s.str. Pp. 123-218 in: Jiménez, E.; Fernández, F.; Arias, T.M.; Lozano-Zambrano F. H. (eds.) 2008. Sistemática, biogeografía y conservación de las hormigas cazadoras de Colombia. Bogotá: Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, xiv + 609 pp.
  • INBio Collection (via Gbif)
  • Longino J. T. L., and M. G. Branstetter. 2018. The truncated bell: an enigmatic but pervasive elevational diversity pattern in Middle American ants. Ecography 41: 1-12.
  • Longino J. et al. ADMAC project. Accessed on March 24th 2017 at
  • MacKay W. P., and E. Mackay, E. 2010. The systematics and biology of the New World ants of the genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, xii+642 pp.
  • Mackay, W.P. and E.E. MacKay. 2010. The systematics and biology of the New World ants of the genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press Lewiston, NY
  • Ryder Wilkie K.T., A. L. Mertl, and J. F. A. Traniello. 2010. Species Diversity and Distribution Patterns of the Ants of Amazonian Ecuador. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13146.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013146
  • Smith M. A., W. Hallwachs, D. H. Janzen. 2014. Diversity and phylogenetic community structure of ants along a Costa Rican elevational gradient. Ecography 37(8): 720-731.