Tetraponera difficilis

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Tetraponera difficilis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Pseudomyrmecinae
Genus: Tetraponera
Species: T. difficilis
Binomial name
Tetraponera difficilis
(Emery, 1900)

Tetraponera difficilis casent0217589 p 1 high.jpg

Tetraponera difficilis casent0217589 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


Colonies have been collected from dead twigs of Xylocarpa granatum (in mangrove) and Mallotus sp. (rainforest edge), and from a dead twig of an unidentified woody plant, lying loose in a patch of Gleichinia fern (second-growth rainforest). Thus, it appears to be have generalised nesting habits. Colonies of T. difficilis that I encountered in Singapore were polydomous and had rather aggressive, actively stinging workers. This was in contrast to the more passive behavior of workers from sympatric colonies of Tetraponera allaborans, Tetraponera extenuata, and Tetraponera nitida. (Ward 2001)


Ward (2001) - Workers of this species can be distinguished from those of others in the nigra-group by the combination of intermediate eye size (REL2 0.44-0.48), sparse pilosity (CSC 2-4, MSC 0-5), and the structure of the mesopropodeal impression: open anteriorly, with a pit-shaped depression posteriorly. The shiny, puncticulate integument and relatively slender petiole are also characteristic. Workers show modest variation in size, shape of the petiole, amounts of standing pilosity, and color of the appendages. More striking is the variability of the appressed pubescence on the gaster. In most workers the appressed hairs occur in moderate to high density on the gaster, sufficient to dull the lustre of the underlying integument. But in some individuals from Borneo and the Philippines the hairs are short, sparse, and separated by more than their lengths, and the gaster is correspondingly shinier. Finally, while the legs are only moderately long in most workers (LHT/HL 0.67-0.77; LHT/HW 0.77-0.88), they are unusually long in one worker examined from Danum Valley, Sabah (leg. H. Okido) (LHT/HL 0.80, LHT/HW 0.90).

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Indonesia (type locality), Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore.
Oriental Region: Thailand.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Habitats from which it has been recorded include primary and secondary rainforest, rainforest edge, “gardens and relict rain forest”, “lower montane mixed dipterocarp forest”, “Acacia mangium plantation”, and mangrove. (Ward 2001)




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

  • difficilis. Sima difficilis Emery, 1900d: 677 (w.) INDONESIA (Sumatra). Wheeler, W.M. 1919e: 144 (q.). Combination in Tetraponera: Wheeler, W.M. 1919e: 65. Senior synonym of dilatata, nitens, stipitum: Ward, 2001: 628.
  • stipitum. Sima stipitum Forel, 1912n: 54 (w.) SINGAPORE. Combination in S. (Tetraponera): Emery, 1921f: 27; in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 82. Junior synonym of difficilis: Ward, 2001: 628.
  • nitens. Sima nitens Stitz, 1925: 117 (w.q.) PHILIPPINES. Combination in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 81. Junior synonym of difficilis: Ward, 2001: 628.
  • dilatata. Sima (Tetraponera) dilatata Karavaiev, 1933c: 267, fig. 15 (w.) INDONESIA (Prinsen I.). Combination in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 80. Junior synonym of difficilis: Ward, 2001: 628.

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



Ward (2001) - HW 0.82-0.99, HL 0.90-1.22, LHT 0.66-0.84, CI 0.81-0.90, FCI 0.11-0.15, REL 0.38-0.44, REL2 0.44-0.48, SI 0.55-0.62, SI3 1.15-1.32, FI 0.43-0.51, PLI 0.57-0.63, PWI 0.44-0.51, PDI 0.97-1.12, LHT/HW 0.77-0.90, CSC 2-4, MSC 2-5.

Medium-sized species; clypeus short, its anteromedial margin weakly convex and even with, or protruding only slightly beyond the level of, the anterolateral clypeal margin; frontal carinae moderately well separated, the distance between them exceeding basal scape width; eye relatively modest in size, scape notably longer than eye (SI3 > 1.14); pro femur relatively slender, FI usually <0.48 in all but largest workers; lateral pronotal margins present, blunt-edged; mesopropodeal impression consisting of two sections: anteriorly, an open transverse, strip of integument with varying density of longitudinal rugulae or carinulae; posteriorly, a pit-shaped depression defined by flanking lateral ridges that decline anteriorly, usually rather suddenly and at a point marked by a weak denticle, visible on the profile of the mesosoma; propodeum usually about as high as wide, and somewhat depressed below the level of the promesonotum; dorsal face of propodeum rounding gradually and continously into the declivitous face; petiole with short but well differentiated anterior peduncle and with relatively slender node (PL/HL 0.54-0.61); posteroventral petiolar teeth lacking; in profile petiole typically as illustrated, with the node rather broadly and evenly rounded, its anterior face only slightly steeper than its gently declining posterior face; petiole about twice as long as wide (see PWI values); postpetiole about as long as, or slightly longer than, wide; metabasitarsal sulcus prominent, occurring in a darkened patch of raised cuticle and occupying more than half the length of the basitarsus. Integument smooth and shiny, with scattered fine punctures, mostly ≤0.010 mm in diameter, and separated by several to many diameters, leaving conspicuous shiny interspaces, especially on the side of the mesosoma; lower malar area with coarser punctures and weak longitudinal rugulae. Standing pilosity scarce, present on gaster and apex of head, and on the following dorsal surfaces: posterior half of head (2-4, usually 2), pronotum (2-5), petiole (0-5), and postpetiole (0-5); with head in full-face view, standing hairs absent from sides of head, except for one or two near the mandibular insertions; short appressed pubescence scattered over body, generally somewhat inconspicuous; appressed hairs on abdominal tergite IV (first gastric tergite) varying considerably in density, from very dense (hairs overlapping extensively) to sparse (hairs separated by more than their lengths). Body black to dark brownish-black; appendages varying from dark brown to light yellowish-brown (antennae, protibia and tarsi usually the lightest in color).

Type Material

Ward (2001) - Syntypes, 2 workers, Benculen, Sumatra, Indonesia (E. Modigliani) (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • CSIRO Collection
  • Chapman, J. W., and Capco, S. R. 1951. Check list of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Asia. Monogr. Inst. Sci. Technol. Manila 1: 1-327
  • Emery C. Formiche raccolte da Elio Modigliani in Sumatra, Engano e Mentawei. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale 40: 661-722.
  • Emery, C. "Formiche raccolte da Elio Modigliani in Sumatra, Engano e Mentawei." Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Giacomo Doria (Genova) (2) 20, no. 40 (1900): 661-722.
  • Forel A. 1905. Ameisen aus Java. Gesammelt von Prof. Karl Kraepelin 1904. Mitt. Naturhist. Mus. Hambg. 22: 1-26.
  • Gumawardene, N.R., J.D. Majer and J.P. Edirisinghe. 2008. Diversity and richness of ant species in a lowland wet forest reserve in Sri Lanka. Asian Myrmecology 2:71-83
  • Gunawardene N. R., J. D. Majer, and J. P. Edirisinghe. 2008. Diversity and richness of ant species in a lowland wet forest reserve in Sri Lanka. Asian Myrmecology 2: 71-83.
  • Jaitrong W.; Nabhitabhata, J. 2005. A list of known ant species of Thailand. The Thailand Natural History Museum Journal 1(1): 9-54.
  • Karavaiev V. 1933. Ameisen aus dem Indo-Australischen Gebiet, VII. (Schluss). Konowia 12: 260-271.
  • Pfeiffer M.; Mezger, D.; Hosoishi, S.; Bakhtiar, E. Y.; Kohout, R. J. 2011. The Formicidae of Borneo (Insecta: Hymenoptera): a preliminary species list. Asian Myrmecology 4:9-58
  • Rickson F.R., and M.M. Rickson. 1998. The cashew nut, Anacardium occidentale (Anacardiaceae), and its perennial association with ants: extrafloral nectary location and the potential for ant defense. American Journal of Botany 85(6): 835-849.
  • Santschi F. 1928. Fourmis de Sumatra, récoltées par Mr. J. B. Corporaal. Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 71: 119-140.
  • Sitthicharoenchai D., and N. Chantarasawat. 2006. Ant species diversity in the establishing area for Advanced Technology Institute at Lai-Nan Sub-district, Wiang Sa district, Nan Province, Thailand. The Natural History Journal of Chulalongkorn University 6(2): 67-74
  • Ward P. S. 2001. Taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of the ant genus Tetraponera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Oriental and Australian regions. Invertebrate Taxonomy 15: 589-665.
  • Ward, P. S. 2001. Taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of the ant genus Tetraponera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Oriental and Australian regions. Invertebrate Taxonomy 15:589-665.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1919. The ants of Borneo. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 63:43-147.