Neoponera carbonaria

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Neoponera carbonaria
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Neoponera
Species: N. carbonaria
Binomial name
Neoponera carbonaria
(Smith, F., 1858)

Pachycondyla carbonaria casent0249132 p 1 high.jpg

Pachycondyla carbonaria casent0249132 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): One colony was collected in a rotten stump 30 cms high. The ants were under the bark to a depth of 15 cms. Sexuals and brood were present in the nest in January (Colombia).


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): Neoponera carbonaria could be easily confused with Neoponera laevigata, another glossy ant. They can be easily separated as the side of the propodeum of N. carbonaria has poorly defined striae, whereas that of N. laevigata is coarsely sculptured, with well-defined striae. The appressed golden pubescence found in N. carbonaria is nearly absent on the head, mesosoma and gaster of N. laevigata. Pachycondyla carbonaria is very similar to Neoponera schoedli. The worker of N. carbonaria can be separated as it has much more extensive bluish or greenish reflections and is more sculptured, specifically the anepisternum has several oblique horizontal striae, which are lacking in P. schoedli. The relatively smooth surface and the greenish or bluish reflections would separate N. carbonaria from other similar species including Neoponera aenescens, Pachycondyla crassinoda, Neoponera emiliae, Pachycondyla harpax, Pachycondyla impressa, Pachycondyla procidua and Pachycondyla striata.

There is little doubt that N. atrovirens is actually N. carbonaria, although type material of N. atrovirens was not located. The description fits N. carbonari'a well. Neoponera carbonaria keys easily to N. atrovirens in both Mayr’s key (1870) and Emery’s (1890a) key and is a relatively common ant in Colombia (subject of Mayr’s key). The lectotype of Euponera (Mesoponera) atrovirens race splendida is a typical specimen of N. carbonaria.


Columbia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezula (Mackay and Mackay 2010)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 12.917° to -0.2145°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Colombia, Ecuador (type locality), Nicaragua, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.


Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.



This species usually occurs at high elevation between 2250 - 2800 meters in wet cloud forest. Forel (1901b) mentions they occur between 1000 and 2000 m. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)





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

  • carbonaria. Ponera carbonaria Smith, F. 1858b: 97 (w.) ECUADOR (“South America, Quito”).
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • [Note: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 228, designate a lectotype and a paralectotype based on material in NHMW, but the sole original specimen appears to be the single worker in BMNH (= holotype).]
    • Type-locality: Ecuador: “South America”, Quito, “79/22” (no collector’s name).
    • Type-depository: BMNH.
    • Combination in Euponera (Mesoponera): Emery, 1901a: 47;
    • combination in Mesoponera: Kempf, 1972a: 141;
    • combination in Pachycondyla: Mayr, 1886c: 358; Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 303;
    • combination in Neoponera: Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, 2014: 151.
    • Status as species: Mayr, 1863: 447; Mayr, 1886c: 358; Cameron, 1891: 91; Dalla Torre, 1893: 33; Forel, 1895b: 114; Emery, 1911d: 82; Kempf, 1972a: 141; Bolton, 1995b: 303; Mackay, Mackay, et al. 2008: 187; Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 228 (redescription); Fernández & Guerrero, 2019: 533.
    • Senior synonym of atrovirens: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 228.
    • Senior synonym of splendida: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 228.
    • Distribution: Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela.
  • atrovirens. Pachycondyla atrovirens Mayr, 1866b: 890 (w.q.) COLOMBIA (“Neu-Granada”).
    • Type-material: syntype worker(s), syntype queens (numbers not given).
    • Type-locality: Colombia (“New Granada”): Antioquia (no collector’s name).
    • Type-depository: NHMW.
    • [Note: in the original description Mayr notes “(Mus. Holm.)”, which may imply that specimens are present in NHRS.]
    • [Also described as new by Mayr, 1870a: 397 (in key).]
    • Combination in Euponera (Mesoponera): Emery, 1901a: 47; Santschi, 1913h: 34;
    • combination in Mesoponera: Kempf, 1972a: 141;
    • combination in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 303.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1890a: 72 (in key); Dalla Torre, 1893: 33; Emery, 1911d: 82; Santschi, 1913h: 34; Kempf, 1972a: 141; Bolton, 1995b: 303.
    • Junior synonym of carbonaria: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 228.
  • splendida. Euponera (Mesoponera) atrovirens r. splendida Forel, 1901f: 340 (w.) ECUADOR.
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 228).
    • Type-locality: Ecuador: 1000-2000 m. (no further data).
    • Type-depository: MHNG.
    • Combination in Mesoponera: Kempf, 1972a: 141;
    • combination in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 310.
    • Subspecies of atrovirens: Emery, 1911d: 82; Kempf, 1972a: 141; Bolton, 1995b: 309.
    • Junior synonym of carbonaria: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 228.



From Mackay and Mackay (2010): These ants are moderately large (total length 10 mm) black ants with shiny green or blue reflections. The anterior edge of the clypeus is indented medially, the eyes are moderately large (maximum diameter 0.43 mm) and separated from the anterior edge of the head by less than one maximum diameter (side view). There is no malar carina between the eye and the anterior edge of the head. The scape extends about two funicular segments past the posterior lateral corner. The pronotal shoulder is swollen and nearly forms a carina. The metanotal suture is impressed and breaks the integument of the dorsum of the mesosoma. The propodeal spiracle is elongate and the propodeum forms carinae laterally. The anterior face of the petiole is slightly concave and meets the convex sloping posterior face at a blunt angle. The stridulatory file is present on the dorsum of the gaster. The metasternal process is formed of two low triangles, which are widely separated. The metasternal process is less well developed than in the other species of the aenescens species complex.

Erect hairs are moderately abundant on all surfaces of the head, but are lacking on the shaft of the scape. The mesosoma, petiole and gaster have several erect hairs, the hairs on the tibiae are appressed, except for a few hairs near the spur. Golden appressed pubescence is abundant on the head, mesosoma and gaster.

Most surfaces are moderately smooth and some are glossy, especially the posterior half of the head, the pronotum and the gaster. Other surfaces are punctate or finely striate.

These ants are mostly black, the mandibles are reddish brown and the other appendages may be slightly lighter in color.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The female is a moderate sized (total length 13 mm) black ant with shiny greenish and bluish reflections. The mandible has approximately 12 teeth. The clypeus is concave along the medial anterior border. The head is narrowed anteriorly, with a concave posterior margin. The eye (0.55 mm) is located less than one diameter from the anterior margin of the head. The malar carina is absent. The scape (2.72 mm) extends slightly more than the first funicular segment past the posterior lateral corner of the head.

The pronotal shoulder is swollen and forms a moderately sharp carina. The propodeal spiracle is slit-shaped. The anterior face of the petiole is concave and meets the broadly rounded posterior face near the anterior edge of the apex. The subpetiolar process forms a small downwardly directed tooth anteriorly and a gradually diminishing process posteriorly. The stridulatory file is present on the second pretergite.

There are several erect and suberect hairs on the clypeus and mandibles, malar area, ventral surface of the head, dorsum of the mesosoma, dorsum of the petiole and all surfaces of the gaster. The scape is without erect hairs; there are few erect and suberect hairs on the legs.

The dorsal surface of the mandible is finely striate, the remainder of the surfaces is finely and sparsely punctate with bluish and greenish reflections.


No males are known for this species.

Type Material

Mackay and Mackay (2010) - Ecuador: Quito. Lectotype worker and 1 paralectotype worker designated, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna.

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Ponera carbonaria

Holotype worker in The Natural History Museum. Labelled “Ponera carbonaria Smith. Quito,” and “type. F. Smith coll. 79.22.”


The name comes from the Latin word for coal, carbo, referring to the black color of this species. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Amat-G G., M. G. Andrade-C. and F. Fernández. (eds.) 1999. Insectos de Colombia. Volumen II. Bogotá: Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, 433 pp. 131975
  • Emery C. 1911. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125.
  • Fernández F., and E. E. Palacio. 1995. Hormigas de Colombia IV: nuevos registros de géneros y especies. Caldasia 17: 587-596.
  • Fernández F., and T. M. Arias-Penna. 2008. Las hormigas cazadoras en la región Neotropical. Pp. 3-39 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.
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Forel A. 1901. Nouvelles espèces de Ponerinae. (Avec un nouveau sous-genre et une espèce nouvelle d'Eciton). Revue Suisse de Zoologie 9: 325-353.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • 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