Tetraponera tessmanni

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Tetraponera tessmanni
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Pseudomyrmecinae
Genus: Tetraponera
Species group: allaborans
Species: T. tessmanni
Binomial name
Tetraponera tessmanni
(Stitz, 1910)

MCZ ENT Tetraponera tessmanni hal.jpg

MCZ ENT Tetraponera tessmanni had.jpg

Specimen Label

At a Glance • Brachypterous Queen  • Ant-plant specialist  


A member of the Tetraponera allaborans species-group.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 3.383333333° to -2.41667°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


Tetraponera tessmanni is the only inhabitant of mature Vitex thyrsiflora lianas, providing effective defense against herbivores. The association between V. thyrsiflora and T. tessmanni is unusual. Pseudomyrmecine plant-ants often prune vegetation contacting their host plant. This behavior functions in part to protect against invasion of the host by ecologically dominant ants. In contrast, T. tessmanni does not prune because its liana that depends on contacts with many other plants. Several traits of V. thyrsiflora and T. tessmanni combine to make the colonization of host plants by potential competitors very difficult. These include behavioral and morphological filters restricting entrance into the plant and exploitation of the resources it can supply; modifications in plant anatomy that enables T. tessmanni workers to carry out all activities, except leaf patrolling, within a single private nesting space where food resources are offered by the plant; and polygyny permitting the colony to monopolize a large, rapidly growing and long-lived territory (Djiéto-Lordon et al. 2005).


Wheeler (1922b: 108) noted a considerable variation in queen size, including ergatoid and brachypterous (subapterous) forms, as well as dealate individuals. Djiéto-Lordon et al. (2005) - One queen morph has fully functional wings. We observed that claustrally founded colonies were without exception founded by dealate queens of this morph. The other morph has wings reduced to functionless nubs, and a narrower thorax. Tetraponera tessmanni is the only pseudomyrmecine known to show such queen dimorphism (P. Ward, pers. comm.). Established colonies included numerous apparently functional egg-laying queens of both morphs.


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

  • tessmanni. Sima tessmanni Stitz, 1910: 131, fig. 2 (w.) EQUATORIAL GUINEA.
    • Santschi, 1919h: 84 (q.); Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 110 (m.); Wheeler, W.M. 1918c: 304 (l.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1956: 391 (l.).
    • Combination in Tetraponera: Wheeler, W.M. 1918c: 303.
    • Combination in Viticicola: Wheeler, W.M. 1919i: 130; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 109.
    • Combination in Sima (Tetraponera): Emery, 1921f: 28.
    • Combination in Tetraponera: Ward, 1990: 489.
    • Senior synonym of castanea: Brown, 1950e: 248; Ward, 2022: 38.
  • castanea. Viticicola tessmanni var. castanea Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 112 (w.q.) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO.
    • Junior synonym of tessmanni: Brown, 1950e: 248; Ward, 2022: 38.



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.
  • IZIKO South Africa Museum Collection
  • Stitz H. 1910. Westafrikanische Ameisen. I. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 5: 125-151.