Tetraponera modesta

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Tetraponera modesta
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Pseudomyrmecinae
Genus: Tetraponera
Species: T. modesta
Binomial name
Tetraponera modesta
(Smith, F., 1860)

Tetraponera modesta casent0281872 p 1 high.jpg

Tetraponera modesta casent0281872 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


Collections with habitat information include foraging workers from lowland rainforest vegetation (New Guinea, Sarawak, Singapore), fogging samples from Dryobalanops beccarri in mixed dipterocarp forest (Brunei), and fogging samples from Aporusa sp. in lower montane dipterocarp forest (Sabah). The localities from which this species has been collected cover a much wider range of habitats, however. (Ward 2001)


A member of the Tetraponera allaborans species-group.

Ward (2001) - Tetraponera modesta can be recognised by the combination of small size (HW <0.65, LHT <0.58), yellow to orange-brown coloration of the head and mesosoma, and relatively slender petiole (PLI <0.60). Throughout its rather wide range this species shows a substantial amount of variation in color and body form.

As one proceeds south there is a gradual trend towards darkening of the gaster, this being most pronounced in samples from Bali, Lombok and New Guinea where the gaster is uniformly dark brown. In intervening regions one finds workers with intermediate (and variable) maculation on the gaster. More puzzling are a few samples of modesta-like specimens from Borneo (Sabah: Poring Spring) and the Philippines (Dumaguete) that show a tendency towards darkening of the head, posterior mesosoma and femora. These specimens thus show contrasts in body color similar to those of Tetraponera extenuata, and the distinction between the two becomes difficult to sustain. It is possible that there is some genetic introgression between the two forms in these localities, but additional studies are needed to address this question.

Keys including this Species


Widely distributed from eastern India to southern China south through Malaysia and Indonesia to Papua New Guinea.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Indonesia (type locality), Malaysia, New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore.
Oriental Region: India, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.
Palaearctic Region: China, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb





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

  • modesta. Pseudomyrma modesta Smith, F. 1860b: 106 (w.) INDONESIA (Batjan I.). Combination in Sima: Dalla Torre, 1893: 54; in S. (Tetraponera): Emery, 1921f: 26; in Tetraponera: Donisthorpe, 1932c: 462. Senior synonym of fulva, pisarskii: Ward, 2001: 616.
  • fulva. Sima (Tetraponera) fulva Viehmeyer, 1916a: 117, fig. 2 (w.q.) SINGAPORE. Combination in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 80. Junior synonym of modesta: Ward, 2001: 616.
  • pisarskii. Tetraponera pisarskii Radchenko, 1997g: 480, figs. 1, 2 (w.) KOREA. Junior synonym of modesta: Ward, 2001: 616.

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



Ward (2001) - HW 0.49-0.64, HL 0.63-0.77, LHT 0.43-0.58, CI 0.71-0.84, FCI 0.08-0.12, REL 0.34-0.41, REL2 0.43-0.52, SI 0.58-0.68, SI3 1.17-1.48, FI 0.36-0.43, PLI 0.45-0.59, PWI 0.38-0.44, PDI 1.03-1.29, LHT/HW 0.82-0.92, CSC 1-2, MSC 2-4.

Small species (HW <0.65); median clypeal lobe narrow, furnished with 2-3 small denticles (often effaced), and usually extending anteriorly beyond the reach of the anterolateral clypeal margins (but shorter than the anterolateral margins in some specimens); profemur relatively slender; lateral margins of pronotum soft-edged, convex in dorsal view, and corresponding to the maximum width of pronotum; mesopropodeal impression well developed, longitudinally rugulate, and lacking metanotal plate; propodeum relatively high and narrow, PDI usually > 1.10, less than this in some northern samples; petiole relatively slender (see PLI and PWI values). Integument smooth and shiny, with scattered fine punctures (c. 0.01 mm diameter) and fine irregular lineations; lower malar area longitudinally carinate; a few weak longitudinal carinulae may be present on the mesopleuron, metapleuron and side of propodeum. Standing pilosity sparse; long standing hairs (>0.05 mm) present on gaster and apex of head and as follows: one supraocular pair, 1-2 pairs (usually two) on pronotum, 0-1 pair on petiole and 0-1 pair on postpetiole; shorter, mostly appressed hairs scattered over body, inconspicuous. Body color varying from light yellow to medium orange-brown, the gaster either concolorous, partially infuscated, or wholly dark brown; appendages usually somewhat lighter than body.

Type Material

Ward (2001) - Holotype (by monotypy), worker, Bachian [as 'Bac.'], Indonesia (Oxford University Museum of Natural History).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Baroni Urbani C. 1977. Katalog der Typen von Formicidae (Hymenoptera) der Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Basel (2. Teil). Mitt. Entomol. Ges. Basel (n.s.) 27: 61-102.
  • 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
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  • Snelling R. R. 1998. Insect Part 1: The social Hymenoptera. In Mack A. L. (Ed.) A Biological Assessment of the Lakekamu Basin, Papua New Guinea, RAP 9. 189 ppages
  • Terayama M. 2009. A synopsis of the family Formicidae of Taiwan (Insecta: Hymenoptera). Research Bulletin of Kanto Gakuen University. Liberal Arts 17:81-266.
  • Terayama Mamoru. 2009. A synopsis of the family Formicidae of Taiwan (Insecta, Hymenoptera). The Research Bulletin of Kanto Gakuen University 17: 81-266.
  • Terayama, M. 2009. A synopsis of the family Formicidae of Taiwan (Insecta; Hymenoptera). The Research Bulletin of Kanto Gakuen University 17: 81-266.
  • Viehmeyer H. 1912. Ameisen aus Deutsch Neuguinea gesammelt von Dr. O. Schlaginhaufen. Nebst einem Verzeichnisse der papuanischen Arten. Abhandlungen und Berichte des Königlichen Zoologischen und Anthropologische-Ethnographischen Museums zu Dresden 14: 1-26.
  • 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.
  • Xu Z. and Z.-Q. Chai. 2004. Systematic study on the ant genus Tetraponera F. Smith (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of China. Acta Zootaxonomica Sinica 29(1): 63-76.
  • Zhang R. J., L. W. Liang, and S. Y. Zhou. 2014. An analysis on the ant fauna of Nonggang Nature Reserve in Guangxi, China. Journal of Guangxi Normal university: Natural Science Edition 32(3): 86-93.