Neoponera foetida

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Neoponera foetida
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Neoponera
Species: N. foetida
Binomial name
Neoponera foetida
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Pachycondyla foetida casent0217560 p 1 high.jpg

Pachycondyla foetida casent0217560 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


Workers were collected by John T. Longino in Santa Rosa National Park, in scrubby vegetation along the road to Monteverde, in open pasture areas around Rara Avis, and in isolated trees in young secondary growth areas of La Selva Biological Station. Longino (1997) found a nest in a recently felled Hieronyma oblonga [Euphorbiaceae] tree. The nest had a small entrance hole a little larger than a worker, which led to a large cavity in a knot, where there were abundant workers. The tree was in a pasture in an area of active clearing of rainforest at 500 m elevation just south of La Selva. Dealate females were collected loose on the ground in February (Brasil), in a malaise trap and August (Colombia) and loose on the ground in October (Bolivia). Specimens have been collected in canopy fumigation samples.


Mackay and Mackay (2010) - The worker and female of N. foetida could be confused with those of Neoponera bugabensis and Neoponera insignis. Neoponera foetida can be easily separated as the petioles of the latter two species completely lack striae. Neoponera theresiae has similar striae on the sides and front of the petiole, but the posterior face of the petiole completely lacks defined striae. Neoponera striatinodis also has transverse striae on the posterior face of the petiole (also the side). It differs in being smaller (total length < 9 mm) and the legs are usually yellow (dark brown in N. foetida). The medial part of the anterior margin of the clypeus of N. foetida is broadly rounded (angulate in N. striatinodis). Finally the metanotal suture of N. foetida is depressed on the dorsum of the mesosoma (barely indicated in N. striatinodis).

Fernandes et al. (2014) - Worker. Sides of propodeum striate; anterior face of petiole straight, convex dorsally, sides strongly striate on upper half, anterior, dorsal and posterior face striate. Neoponera foetida has striae on the upper side face of petiole, while Neoponera theresiae has them on the lower lateral surface.

Keys including this Species


Central America through central South America, Trinidad. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Neoponera foetida occurs in both wet and dry forest (Longino, website), at elevations ranging from > 100 - 500m. It prefers open sunny areas around 290 m elevation. In Colombia, it occurs in tropical grasslands. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)



Males are not known for this species.



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • foetida. Formica foetida Linnaeus, 1758: 582 (q) "America meridionali". Roger, 1860: 312 (w.). Combination in Ponera: Smith, F. 1858b: 95; in Pachycondyla: Roger, 1863b: 18, Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 305; in Neoponera: Emery, 1901a: 47; Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014: 151. Senior synonym of lobata: Retzius, 1783: 75; Olivier, 1792: 502; Latreille, 1802c: 206. See also: Linnaeus, 1767: 965; Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 332.
  • lobata. Formica lobata De Geer, 1773: 602, pl. 31, figs. 6-8 (q.) SURINAM. Junior synonym of foetida: Retzius, 1783: 75; Olivier, 1792: 502; Latreille, 1802c: 206; Fernándes, et al. 2014: 149.

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 moderately large (total length 12 mm) black ant. The mandible has approximately 15 teeth or denticles, which tend to alternate between large teeth and small denticles. The anterior border of the clypeus is mostly convex, only slightly concave medially. The eyes are located slightly posteriorly on the head; the posterior border of the head is concave, with the posterior lateral corners being somewhat angulate. The malar carina is well developed, but does not reach the eye. The eye is large (maximum diameter 0.8 mm) located about one diameter from the anterior edge of the head (side view). The scape extends approximately the first funicular segment past the angulate posterior lateral corner. The pronotal shoulder is formed into a very sharp well-developed carina, which overhangs the side to the pronotum. The mesosoma is depressed at the metanotal suture which is well marked. The lateral edge of the posterior face of the propodeum forms a sharply crenulated carina, the posterior face of the propodeum has horizontal coarse striae. The anterior face of the petiole is vertical and meets the broadly rounded posterior face at the anterior edge. The posterior lateral sides of the petiole form a sharp carina. The stridulatory file is well developed on the second pretergite. The arolia are also well developed.

Erect hairs are abundant on the mandibles, clypeus, sides of the head, posterior margin of the head, dorsal and ventral surfaces of the head, shaft of the scape, dorsum of the mesosoma, petiole and all surfaces of the gaster. Suberect hairs are abundant on all parts of the legs. Appressed whitish (mesosoma and gaster) and golden (head) pubescence is abundant.

The worker of this species is easily recognized by the coarse striae on the anterior face, sides and posterior face of the petiole (those on the posterior face are somewhat finer). The gaster is finely punctate.

Fernandes et al. (2014) - SL: 2.30 - 2.37; HW: 2.40-2.43; HL: 2.60-2.64; PW: 1.68-1.72; WL: 4.21-4.39; NLd: 1.10-1.15; NWd: 1.30-1.35; NLl: 1.10-1.15; NHl: 0.80-0.85; NIl: 135.29-137.50; SI: 95.83-97.53.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The female is a large (total length 15 mm) black ant. The mandible has approximately 12 teeth; the anterior border of the clypeus is convex. The malar carina is well developed and sharp, the maximum diameter of the eye is 0.53 mm. The scape extends past the posterior lateral corner of the head by approximately the first funicular segment. The pronotal shoulder is formed into a sharp carina which overhangs the side of the mesosoma. The propodeal spiracle is slit-shaped. The petiole is thick when viewed in profile with a vertical straight anterior face and a broadly rounded posterior face, which meets the anterior face at the anterior edge. The posterior lateral sides of the posterior face of the petiole are outlined by a carina. The subpetiolar process consists of a large rounded anterior lobe, which gradually diminishes in width posteriorly.

Long (up to 0.6 mm) erect hairs are present on the mandibles, clypeus, dorsal and ventral surfaces of the head, scapes, dorsum of the mesosoma, dorsum and posterior faces of the petiole and all surfaces of the gaster, the legs have numerous erect and suberect hairs.

The mandibles of the female are mostly smooth and glossy with scattered punctures. The dorsum of the head is densely, but finely punctate, with the punctures being somewhat arranged in longitudinal rows, the pronotum is punctate, with the punctures arranged in transverse rows, the remainder of the dorsum of the mesosoma is finely punctate, the side of the pronotum and mesopleuron are finely punctate and moderately shining, as is the metapleuron, the posterior face of the propodeum has well defined transverse striae. The side of the petiole has a few poorly defined horizontal striae, the lower half is mostly smooth and the posterior face has well defined horizontal striae. The gaster is finely punctate and weakly shining.

Type Material

America meridionali (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


The name of this species is from the Latin word foetidus, meaning having a bad smell and may refer to the smell of the preserved specimens Linnaeus used for the description or possibly to a pheromone produced by this species. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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  • Emery C. 1911. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125.
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