Tetraponera grandidieri

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Tetraponera grandidieri
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Pseudomyrmecinae
Genus: Tetraponera
Species: T. grandidieri
Binomial name
Tetraponera grandidieri
(Forel, 1891)

Tetraponera grandidieri casent0012861 profile 1.jpg

Tetraponera grandidieri casent0012861 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


Colonies usually occupy dead twigs or branches on the ground, less commonly in the lower canopy. During field work in Madagascar I collected thirteen nest series of this species, of which nine were in dead wood and four were located in cavities of live plants: three in stems of tree saplings (Ixora sp., Leea sp. and an unidentified plant), and one in a cavity in a live root of a tree in the genus Rhus. There were no scale insects (Coccoidea) in any of these live cavity nests, however, and there is no indication that T. grandidieri is closely associated with any particular plant species. It seems clear that it and other members of the T. grandidieri group occupy moister nest sites than most Tetraponera species. The nests of T. grandidieri apparently contain no more than one dealate queen, and colony sizes are small (5-40 workers). Alate queens and males have been collected from February to May. Workers commonly forage on low vegetation, and they appear to be mimicked by members of the Camponotus putatus complex whose workers forage in similar microhabitats. T. grandidieri is generally absent from disturbed rainforest edge and other high light environments. (Ward 2009)


Ward (2009) - A member of the Tetraponera grandidieri group. This species is typically bicolored with a black or dark brown head and the remainder of the body a contrasting orange-brown. This allows it to be distinguished from the other two species, Tetraponera inermis and Tetraponera merita, with which it is widely sympatric-both of these usually have the head more or less concolorous with the mesosoma. Some northern populations of T. grandidieri have workers that are unicolorous orange-brown, however, and these superficially resemble the other two species. They can be recognized because they lack a tooth on the basal margin of the mandible (present in T. merita) and the metanotal spiracle protrudes from the rnesosoma dorsum in profile (not protruding in T. inermis). The degree of prominence of the metanotal spiracle varies, however, so it is also useful to examine head shape, which is more elongate in T. grandidieri (worker CI 0.77-0.88 versus 0.88-0.97 in T. inermis; see also additional discussion under T. inermis). T. grandidieri also overlaps in distribution with Tetraponera hespera in northern Madagascar. Where these two species co-occur T. grandidieri has a bicolored body, while T. hespera has a unicolored body and contrasting dark bands on the femora.

At Betampona (17°53'S 49°12'E) Brian Fisher collected three nest series of T. grandidieri: one (BLF13292) with unicolored workers, a second (BLF13298) with bicolored workers, and a third (BLF13349) with both unicolored and bicolored workers, in approximately equal proportions. The Betampona workers with light and dark heads show no obvious differences other than color. The occurrence of both forms in the same nest is consistent with the view that they are conspecific. In addition, genetic data (> 10 kb of sequence data from several nuclear genes and one mitochondrial gene) from populations sampled throughout the range of the species show the two color forms to be phylogenetically comingled (Ward unpubl.).

Keys including this Species


Ward (2009) - Tetraponera grandidieri is widespread in eastern Madagascar, with a distribution that spans the length of the island. Populations are restricted to rainforest, at elevations ranging from sea level to 1375 m. As a result of habitat destruction in the lowlands most populations are found at intermediate or higher elevations.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Malagasy Region: Madagascar (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb







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

  • grandidieri. Sima grandidieri Forel, 1891b: 203, pl. 5, fig. 3 (w.) MADAGASCAR. Forel, 1891b: 229 (q.m.). Combination in Tetraponera: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 1014. Senior synonym of hildebrandti: Ward, 2009: 289.
  • hildebrandti. Sima grandidieri var. hildebrandti Forel, 1891b: 204 (w.) MADAGASCAR. Combination in Tetraponera: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 1014. Raised to species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 54. Subspecies of grandidieri: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 1014. Junior synonym of grandidieri: Ward, 2009: 289.

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



Ward (2009) - n = 13. HW 1.01-1.44, HL 1.20-1.65, LHT 1.07-1.56, CI 0.77-0.88, FCI 0.15-0.17, REL 0.28-0.36, REL2 0.34-0.43, 51 0.74-0.81, FI 0.29-0.36, PLI 0.50-0.59, PWI 0.40-0.53.

With characteristics of the T. grandidieri group; basal margin of mandible edentate; anterior clypeal margin broadly convex and crenulate, directed forward, not anteroventrally; head relatively elongate (CI 0.77-0.88); metanotal spiracle more or less visible in lateral view of mesosoma, protruding dorsally in the mesopropodeal impression; dorsal face of propodeum broadly convex in lateral and posterior views; standing pilosity generally sparse; long paired setae (0.2-0.4 mm in length) distributed as follows: 1 pair between the frontal carinae, 1 pair on upper half of head, 1 pair on the pronotum, 0-2 pairs on the petiole; 1-2 pairs on the postpetiole; standing pilosity scattered on successive abdominal segments (gastric segments 1-4); short appressed to subdecumbent hairs absent or inconspicuous on most of body; integument mostly sublucid, with fine coriarious/puncticulate sculpture; body orange-brown, appendages lighter; head usually dark brown to brownish-black, but concolorous with rest of body in some northern populations (see discussion below); legs uniformly light orange-brown.

Type Material

Ward (2009) - Syntypes, 4 workers, Central Madagascar (Hildebrandt) (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa, Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève) [examined] [Two of three MHNG syntypes imaged on AntWeb: CASENT0101652, CASENT0102029]. One syntype (CASENT0101652) here designated lectotype.

There are nine specimens of T. grandidieri in the Forel collection in MHNG (Geneva) labeled as “Typus” or “Cotypus” but most are not true types, because the label data exclude this possibility. These non-types include three males (from Andrangoloaka), one dealate queen (from Andrangoloaka) and one worker (from “Nosibe, Village de l'Imerina”), all with a red “Typus” label, and an alate queen (Madagascar /Sikora) labeled “Cotypus.” Only three workers in MHNG are apparently part of the actual type series of T. grandidieri (there is also a syntype worker in MCSN). To avoid confusion I have designated one of the MHNG syntype workers as lectotype.