Rasopone ferruginea

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Rasopone ferruginea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Rasopone
Species: R. ferruginea
Binomial name
Rasopone ferruginea
(Smith, F., 1858)

Pachycondyla ferruginea casent0249143 p 1 high.jpg

Pachycondyla ferruginea casent0249143 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


Longino (1997) states that this is a poorly known species that inhabits the leaf litter in rainforests and cloud forests. He collected a dealate queen under a stone and an alate queen was taken at a black light.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): Workers and females of R. ferruginea could be confused with those of Rasopone lunaris, one of the few species (others are Brachyponera chinensis and other members of the ferruginea species complex) in the New World in which the posterior edge of the subpetiolar process is developed into a posteriorly directed flange, angle or spine. The shape of the petiole can differentiate R. ferruginea from others with the posterior face rounded, forming a narrowed apex. The petiole of R. lunaris is rectangular shaped (in profile). Pachycondyla ferruginea could be confused with the Bolivian Pachycondyla lenkoi, which is similar in size, color and the shape of the petiole and subpetiolar process. Pachycondyla ferruginea can be easily separated by the approximately 10 mandibular teeth (7 teeth in P. lenkoi). The propodeal spiracle of R. ferruginea is circular, not slit-shaped as in P. lenkoi.

The female of R. ferruginea is very similar to that of Rasopone minuta of the ferruginea species complex. It differs in having more mandibular teeth (R. minuta has only seven well-defined teeth) and in being larger. The two angulate processes on the anterior margin of the clypeus of R. ferruginea and the form of the subpetiolar process are very similar to those of R. minuta. Forel states that the female of R. ferruginea var. panamensis differs in being larger (total length 6.5 mm) and he does not mention the fine striae on the mandibles (states the mandibles are smooth with scattered punctures). Otherwise it appears identical to the normal female of R. ferruginea and is considered a synonym although the types could not be found. John Longino has concluded that R. ferruginea var. panamensis is a synonym of R. lunaris (pers. comm.). The description actually fits both species about equally well; the females of both R. ferruginea and R. lunaris are approximately equal in size and somewhat smaller (total length about 5 mm) than the female described by Forel (1899). The smooth mandibles with scattered punctures suggest it is neither of these species which both have striated mandibles. Unfortunately the type could not be found and it is provisionally synonymized with R. ferruginea, the name under which it was described. John Longino refers to R. ferruginea as JTL-015 on his website (pers. comm.).



Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico (type locality), Panama, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


This common species is found in a variety of habitats, ranging from open disturbed grassy area, coffee plantation, mixed dry oak forest, oak ridge/bamboo forest, upper montane oak forest, second growth rain forest along a road, tropical montane evergreen forest, wet montane forest, cloud forest, Clusea rosea [Clusiaceae] forest, tropical mountain ever-green forest, bamboo forest to wet lowland and cloud forest, gallery forest, wet ravine forest, montane rain forest, swamp forest, along trail in rain forest, tierra firme forest, at elevations ranging from 250 - 2150 m. Longino (1997) reports that it is found in wet forest habitats up to 2000 m elevation. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): This species nests under stones in clay soils and workers have been extracted from lowland forest litter and Guadua (bamboo) litter. They have also been collected in rotten wood and under a palm log. This species has been collected in caves near the entrances (Reddell and Cokendolpher, 2001).

Workers have been collected in subterranean traps baited with Vienna sausage; they are attracted to carrion and to clay soil thrown up by a tree fall. They are also collected in pitfall traps.

It is difficult to explain why the males of this common species have not been collected.




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

  • ferruginea. Ponera ferruginea Smith, F. 1858b: 100 (q.) MEXICO. Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1976a: 54 (l.); Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 319 (w.). Combination in Euponera (Mesoponera): Emery, 1901a: 47; in Trachymesopus: Brown, 1963: 7; in Mesoponera: Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1976a: 54; in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 305; in Rasopone: Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014: 210. Senior synonym of panamensis: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 319.
  • panamensis. Ponera ferruginea var. panamensis Forel, 1899c: 15 (q.) PANAMA. Combination in Euponera (Mesoponera): Emery, 1911d: 82; in Trachymesopus: Kempf, 1972a: 251; in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 308. Junior synonym of ferruginea: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 319.

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

Ponera ferruginea

Holotype worker in The Natural History Museum. Labelled “Mex. 56/143.” Acc. Reg.: “1856 no. 143. Mexico. Purchased of Cuming. Collected by M. Sallé on and around the volcano of Orizaba, two or three are from St Thomas in the West Indies.”

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 (undescribed) is a relatively small (about 6 mm total length) reddish brown ant (rarely dark or nearly black) with the appendages nearly as dark as the remainder. The middle tibia is very short (0.85 mm), shorter than the maximum width of the pronotum as seen from above (1.1 mm). The medial area of the clypeus is indented and is surrounded by two convex areas, the area anterior to the eye is without a malar carina, the eye is very small (0.13 mm maximum diameter), which is less than the distance between the anterior border of the eye and the anterior margin of the head. The scape is short and barely reaches or slightly surpasses the posterior lateral corner of the head.

The pronotal shoulder is completely rounded, the metanotal suture is well marked on the dorsum of the mesosoma, but is only slightly depressed and the propodeal spiracle is circular. The petiole is relatively narrow with the anterior and posterior faces meeting and forming a broadly rounded dorsal face. The subpetiolar process is well developed and forms a posteriorly directed spine. The stridulatory file is absent on the dorsum of the gaster. Erect hairs are abundant on the mandibles, clypeus, shaft of the scape, most of the hairs on the dorsum of the head are erect, but are very short (most less than 0.05 mm), erect hairs are abundant on the ventral surface of the head, the dorsum of the mesosoma, the dorsum of the petiole and all surfaces of the gaster, most hairs on the tibiae are appressed, although there are a few scattered erect or suberect hairs present; appressed pubescence is sparse on the head, abundant on the dorsum of the mesosoma, dorsum of the petiole and dorsum of the gaster, golden in color and may even be matted on some surfaces, especially the gaster. The mandibles are finely striate and shining, the head and the mesosoma are mostly finely punctate and dull, the sides of the mesosoma have poorly defined striae, most surfaces of the petiole are punctate and weakly shining, the posterior face is smooth and glossy, except for a punctate central region, the gaster is finely punctate and shining.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The female is a small (total length 6 mm) ferrugineous red specimen. The mandibles have nine teeth, the anterior border of the clypeus is broadly convex but concave medially, with two poorly developed lateral processes. The sides of the head are narrower anteriorly and the posterior border is weakly concave. The eyes are small (maximum diameter 0.24 mm), located less than one maximum diameter from the anterior margin of the head (side view). The scapes are relatively short and barely reach the posterior lateral margins of the head.

The ocelli are small and the lateral ocelli are separated by more than two diameters from the medial ocellus. The pronotal shoulder is swollen, but does not form a carina. The propodeal spiracle is slightly elongated, but nearly circular and the posterior lateral edges of the propodeum form carinae. The petiole is narrow when viewed in profile (especially in the holotype and specimens from México) with a straight anterior face and a broadly rounded posterior face that meets the anterior face near the anterior edge and forms only a poorly defined dorsal face. The subpetiolar process is similar to that of the worker with a posteriorly directed lobe. The anterior face of the postpetiole is straight and meets the dorsal face at a rounded angle. Erect hairs are sparse, relatively long on the clypeus and gaster (up to 0.3 mm), the remaining hairs are short (0.1 mm) and present on the clypeus, the mandibles, the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the head, the dorsum of the mesosoma, the dorsum and posterior faces of the petiole and all surfaces of the gaster. Appressed fine golden pubescence is present on the head, mesosoma, petiole and all surfaces of the gaster.

The mandibles are finely striate and shining, the dorsum of the head is finely and densely punctate, as are the scapes, the mesosoma is punctate, with poorly defined, transverse striolae, the sides of the mesosoma are dull and finely striolate. The petiole is coriaceous and moderately shining, to strongly shining (posterior face), the gaster is punctate and moderately shining.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The male is unknown. A possible male is deposited in the California Academy of Sciences.

Type Material

México . Holotype female seen, The Natural History Museum (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


The name of this species is from Latin, ferrugineus, meaning rust-colored, referring to the color. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1963a. Characters and synonymies among the genera of ants. Part III. Some members of the tribe Ponerini (Ponerinae, Formicidae). Breviora 190: 1-10 (page 7, Combination in Trachymesopus)
  • 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 305, Combination in Pachycondyla)
  • 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. 1899. Biologia Centrali - Americana. Insecta. Hymenoptera. Vol. III (Formicidae). 169 pp + 4 plates.
  • 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.
  • Reddell, J. and J. Cokendolpher. 2001 Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the caves of Belize, Mexico and California and Texas (U.S.A) Texas Memorial Museum, Speleological Monographs 5:129-154.
  • Smith, F. 1858. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp.
  • 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. 1976a. Supplementary studies on ant larvae: Ponerinae. Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc. 102: 41-64 (page 54, larva described)
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1976a. Supplementary studies on ant larvae: Ponerinae. Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc. 102: 41-64 (page 54, Combination in Mesoponera)