AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Acanthoponera mucronata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Heteroponerinae
Genus: Acanthoponera
Mayr, 1862
Type species
Ponera mucronata, now Acanthoponera mucronata
4 species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)

Acanthoponera mucronata casent0173540 profile 1.jpg

Acanthoponera mucronata

Acanthoponera mucronata casent0173540 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Evolutionary Placement

  (4 species)

  (28 species)

Based on Brady et al., 2006

Acanthoponera is a rarely collected genus, less than a score of separate collections having reached myrmecologists to my knowledge. Nothing is known of its nesting habits or food, and the larva has never been seen, so far as I can learn. The genus is restricted to the New World, where it is known to range from Veracruz south into northwestern Argentina. Apparently it is restricted to forested country, although information on this is scanty. Probably an increase in night collecting in the tropics will give us more insight into the biology of this most interesting generalized ectatommine. (Brown 1958)


Brown (1958) - Medium-sized ants (workers ranging from 5 to 10 mm. in outstretched length), generally of a yellowish or tan color, with large, convex eyes and shallow antennal scrobes. The propodeum bears a pair of teeth or spines (long and slender in worker), and the apex of the petiolar node is produced dorsocaudad as a slender subconical spine with a more or less acute tip. The tarsal claws are very well developed, and each has not only a strong submedian tooth, but also a prominent, narrow lobe resembling a third tooth. The palpi of the female and worker are segmented maxillary 6, labial 4 (this seems to be the formula in the single male available, although the basalmost segment in each of the palps of this specimen is not properly visible under the partly-retracted maxillae and labrum); this formula is the primitive one for the Formicidae, and it is not known to hold in any other ectatommine genus. The palpi are long and slender as compared to those of other ectatommines. The characters above are those expected of an epigaeic, nocturnal forager that climbs trees or other vegetation, habits now confirmed by observations of Weber (1939) and Wilson (personal communication) on Acanthoponera minor.

The females of Acanthoponera, where known, are winged, slightly larger than workers from the same nest, and differ from the workers in the same ways that ponerines most often do. The female propodpal teeth are usually less well developed than in the worker. The color is the same or nearly the same as in the corresponding workers. The forewings have “complete” venation of the type of Ectatomma, but the hind wings differ from those of Ectatomma in that they lack the anal lobe. In the single Acanthoponera female available with wings, there is no trace of the first radial crossvein remaining, although such traces are present in the male specimen seen.

The male of this genus is known to me only from a single specimen sent by Father Borgmeier; I believe that this is the first true Acanthoponera male to be recorded. It will suffice here to describe this male as like a larger, more slender Heteroponera with tarsal claws as in worker-female Acanthoponera. A further notable character is the very extensive ventral excavation of the gaster; the cavity involves large parts of the second and following segments, and even the posteroventral border of the postpetiole. No such conformation exists in the few Heteroponera males I have seen, nor does it occur in other genera of ectatommines. More species must be examined in the male sex before we know whether or not this is a generic, or only a specific, character. The general color of this male is ferruginous yellow. The eyes are large, convex, and medially emarginate; the ocelli are large and clear. As already mentioned above, the male specimen seen has traces remaining of the first radial crossvein, visible in good light as tenuous veinlets extending downward from R toward Rs, but not reaching Rs before they fade out.

AntWeb icon 02.png See images of species within this genus

Keys including this Genus



Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps




Worker Morphology


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

  • ACANTHOPONERA [Heteroponerinae]
    • Acanthoponera Mayr, 1862: 732 [as subgenus of Ectatomma]. Type-species: Ponera mucronata, by subsequent designation of Wheeler, W.M. 1911f: 158.
    • Acanthoponera raised to genus: Emery, 1895g: 346; Emery, 1911d: 35.


  • Ashmead, W. H. 1905c. A skeleton of a new arrangement of the families, subfamilies, tribes and genera of the ants, or the superfamily Formicoidea. Can. Entomol. 37: 381-384 (page 382, Acanthoponera in Pachycondylinae, Ectatommini)
  • Bolton, B. 1995b. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 504 pp. (page 53, catalogue)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 177, Acanthoponera as genus in tribe Heteroponerini)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1958g. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. II. Tribe Ectatommini (Hymenoptera). Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 118: 173-362 (page 188, Revision of genus)
  • Cantone S. 2017. Winged Ants, The Male, Dichotomous key to genera of winged male ants in the World, Behavioral ecology of mating flight (self-published).
  • Cantone S. 2018. Winged Ants, The queen. Dichotomous key to genera of winged female ants in the World. The Wings of Ants: morphological and systematic relationships (self-published).
  • Cantone, S., Von Zuben, C.J. 2019. The hindwings of ants: A phylogenetic analysis. Psyche: A Journal of Entomology 2019, 1–11 (doi:10.1155/2019/7929717).
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 23, Acanthoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1943g. A list of the type-species of the genera and subgenera of the Formicidae. [part]. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 11(10): 617-688 (page 619, Acanthoponera as genus)
  • Emery, C. 1895h. Descriptions de quelques fourmis nouvelles d'Australie. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 39: 345-358 (page 346, Acanthoponera raised to genus)
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 767, Acanthoponera in Ponerinae, Ectatommini)
  • Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 35, Acanthoponera in Ponerinae, Ectatommini)
  • Emery, C. 1911e. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125 (page 35, Acanthoponera raised to genus)
  • Fernandez, F., Guerrero, R.J., Sánchez-Restrepo, A.F. 2021. Sistemática y diversidad de las hormigas neotropicales. Revista Colombiana de Entomología 47, 1–20 (doi:10.25100/socolen.v47i1.11082).
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 236, Acanthoponera in Ponerinae, Ectatommini; Acanthoponera as genus)
  • Gallardo, A. 1918c. Las hormigas de la República Argentina. Subfamilia Ponerinas. An. Mus. Nac. Hist. Nat. B. Aires 30: 1-112 (page 16, Acanthoponera in Ponerinae, Ectatommini; Acanthoponera as genus)
  • Kugler, C. 1991. Stings of ants of the tribe Ectatommini (Formicidae: Ponerinae). Insecta Mundi 5: 153-166 (page 155, sting structure)
  • Kusnezov, N. 1956a. Claves para la identificación de las hormigas de la fauna argentina. Idia 104- 105: 1-56 (page 13, Acanthoponera as genus)
  • Lattke, J. E. 1994. Phylogenetic relationships and classification of ectatommine ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomol. Scand. 25: 105-119 (page 110, Acanthoponera in Ponerinae, Ectatommini)
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 732, Acanthoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
  • Mayr, G. 1863a. Formicidarum index synonymicus. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 13: 385-460 (page 394, Acanthoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
  • Mayr, G. 1887. Südamerikanische Formiciden. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 37: 511-632 (page 540, Acanthoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
  • Roger, J. 1863b. Verzeichniss der Formiciden-Gattungen und Arten. Berl. Entomol. Z. 7(B Beilage: 1-65 (page 17, Acanthoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 135, Acanthoponera as subgenus of Ectatomma)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1911g. A list of the type species of the genera and subgenera of Formicidae. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 21: 157-175 (page 158, Type-species: Ponera mucronata; by subsequent designation)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 643, Acanthoponera in Ponerinae, Ectatommini)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1923f. Ants of the genera Myopias and Acanthoponera. Psyche (Camb.) 30: 175-192 (page 179, Acanthoponera as genus)