Ponera japonica

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Ponera japonica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Ponera
Species: P. japonica
Binomial name
Ponera japonica
Wheeler, W.M., 1906

Ponera japonica casent0008646 profile 1.jpg

Ponera japonica casent0008646 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Ponera japonica is found in forested habitats, as are most Ponera, but is unusual in also nesting in open sites.


Taylor (1967) - The relatively large size, the tendency to develop a median clypeal denticle, the large eyes, the relatively long scapes, and the broad petiolar node, mark japonica as the most primitive species of its group. Total length of workers around 2.5 mm. Body color brown to blackish brown. Scapes not reaching median posterior border of head, failing to do so by at least 1/5 maximum scape thickness.

Keys including this Species


Widespread in the Orient and Indonesia.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: China, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Japan (type locality), Republic of Korea, Russian Federation.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Taylor (1967) - Detailed information is given by Hayashida (1957, 1960), concerning the ecology of japonica (erroneously identified as Ponera scabra). It is not uncommon, though sparsely distributed, in the vicinity of Sapporo, on the Ishikari Plain of Hokkaido, an area once extensively forested but now largely urban or cultivated. Of 28 ant species collected there it was 18th in abundance (18 or 1.3% of 1491 colonies taken in a total of 43 hours collecting, divided equally between 8 habitat types). P. japonica apparently has fairly broad habitat preferences and was taken in the following situations: (1) arid sparsely vegetated sand dunes or river sides (50% of the 18 colonies); (2) dry sparsely vegetated, disturbed cropfields or roadsides (6% of colonies); (3) rather humid pastures and meadows with dense grass and herb cover and loamy clay soil (22 % of colonies); (4) humid woods or forests with low insolation, loamy soils and abundant decaying matter lying on the ground (22% of colonies). It was not taken at the sea shore, in peat bogs, or on the margins of wood lots. The general parameters of habitat preference were given as low light intensity, and moderate moisture conditions (Hayashida 1957). Foraging is restricted to the ground layer, as usual in Ponera.

In woods and grasslands nests were in or under humus and other debris, but in more open habitats japonica was found nesting among the roots of grasses or in exposed soil, even where it was sandy. If debris or stones were available in open habitats nests were usually constructed beneath them. In the arid sand dunes or dry river beds about 75% of colonies were under stones.

P. japonica nests under stones and in the soil, especially in the humus layer. Okamoto (1972) reported that larvae do not spin cocoons and the pupae are thus naked. It is found from low-lying to mountainous sites.





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

  • japonica. Ponera japonica Wheeler, W.M. 1906c: 306 (w.q.) JAPAN. Imai, Brown, et al. 1984: 67 (k.). Senior synonym of crocea: Taylor, 1967a: 76. See also: Kupyanskaya, 1990: 86.
  • crocea. Ponera japonica var. crocea Santschi, 1941: 273 (w.) JAPAN. [Unresolved junior primary homonym of crocea Roger, 1860: 288, above.] Junior synonym of japonica: Taylor, 1967a: 76.

Type Material

Wheeler, as usual, designated no holotype from his original series of P. japonica. A worker (Museum of Comparative Zoology collection) with the measurements given below is here designated lectotype and is so labeled. Four additional syntype workers in the MCZ collection and 8 in the American Museum of Natural History, along with 2 queens (one in each of these collections) have been designated and labeled as paralectotypes. Yamanaka, Suruga (West slope, Hakone Mts), Japan (Syntypes examined- MCZ, AMNH).

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


Taylor 1967 Ponera fig 67-75


Taylor (1967) - Two Japanese syntypes have the following dimensions: HL 0.65 mm; HW 0.53 mm; SL 0.45 mm; CI 81; SI 85; PW 0.46 mm; PNL 0.22 mm; PH 0.43 mm; DPW 0.33-0.34 mm; PNI 72-74; maximum diameter of compound eye 0.15 mm; ocular index 28; palpal formula: Maxillary 2: Labial 2 (1 inspected).


  • 2n = 12 (Malaysia) (Imai et al., 1983).