Anochetus africanus

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Anochetus africanus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Anochetus
Species: A. africanus
Binomial name
Anochetus africanus
(Mayr, 1865)

MCZ ENT Anochetus africanus hal.jpg

MCZ ENT Anochetus africanus had.jpg

Specimen labels

Synonyms

Identification

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Cameroun, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana (type locality), Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Uganda.


Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Not much is known about the the biology of Anochetus africanus but we can presume that its biology is similar to other Anochetus species. The following account of Anochetus biology is modified from Brown (1968):

Habitat. The places where Anochetus live are varied. Where they penetrate into the temperate zone, most species excavate nests in the earth. Occasionally the nest is dug under a covering rock. In the tropics, many nests are also dug in the soil, but in moist forested areas, a common site is the soil beneath a rotting log or other large mass of rotting wood, with extensions of the nest into the log itself. Another frequent nesting site in tropical forest is in the humus and leaf litter at the base of large trees, particularly between buttress roots. Anochetus species of medium or small size often nest in small pieces of rotting wood or bark, or even small rotting twigs or seeds and nuts lying in or on the forest litter. Some species tend to choose more arboreal nest sites.

Diet. Foraging for living animal prey takes place on the soil surface, within the soil-humus-log mold matrix, or on the trunks, branches and foliage of trees and plants wherever these are available. Fragmentary evidence indicates that most epigaeically foraging tropical Anochetus tend to do their foraging at dusk, at night, or during dawn hours. I found Anochetus africanus walking on tree trunks only at night in the Ivory Coast. Some species, particularly those with red heads or other aposematic coloration, apparently forage in the open more during the day. No systematic comparative study has yet been made of foraging hours for different species.

The food of Anochetus consists principally of living arthropods caught and killed or incapacitated by the ants. The smaller and more delicate species Anochetus inermis has been observed by me in a laboratory nest. The colony came from a piece of rotten wood from the floor of a wet ravine near Bucay in western Ecuador. The colony was fed with small tenebrionid beetle larvae (Tribolium castaneum), comparable in size to the A. inermis workers, and the latter attacked the prey with their mandibles in the familiar snapping manner, but very cautiously and nervously, with stealthy approach, extremely rapid strike, and instant recoil-retreat. After several attacks of this kind, with intervening periods of waiting, during which the beetle larvae fled, rested, or writhed about in distress, an ant would finally attack with its mandibles and hold them closed on the prey for long enough to deliver a quick sting in the intersegmental membrane. After this, the prey appeared to be paralyzed, or at least subdued, and sooner or later was carried off by the ant to the nest, and eventually placed on an ant larva.

Frequent delays and excursions before the prey are finally immobilized and brought to the ant larvae in the nest may well have the function of allowing time for protective allomones of the prey to dissipate. Many tenebrionid adults, including Tribofium, possess potent quinonoid defensive allomones, but the larva is not known to possess quinones in this genus.

Nuptial flight. Although males of different species of Anochetus are commonly taken at light, other species are not. Stewart and Jarmila Peck gave me Malaise trap samples taken in western Ecuador that contained males of several species, but Malaise traps capture both day- and night-flying insects.

Defense. When a nest of any of the larger Anochetus species is breached, some of the workers immediately hide beneath leaves or other objects, while other workers rush about with open jaws, which they snap at foreign objects, or even at leaves and twigs, with an audible tick. On human skin or clothing, a worker will snap her jaws and hold fast to the surface with them, at the same time quickly bringing her gaster around to sting. The sting is long and strong, and to me the effect is shocking and quickly painful.

Most of the smaller and medium-sized Anochetus species feign death when disturbed, crouching flat against the surface, or rolling themselves into a ball and remaining still, often for a minute or more. Only when held do they sting. Their stings can be felt in most cases, but the effect is usually trifling.

Castes

Worker

Queen

Nomenclature

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

  • africanus. Stenomyrmex africanus Mayr, 1865: 11 (footnote) (w.) GHANA.
    • Type-material: holotype(?) worker.
    • [Note: no indication of number of specimens is given.]
    • Type-locality: Ghana (“Gold Coast”): (no further data).
    • Type-depository: NHMW.
    • André, 1892a: 47 (q.).
    • Combination in Anochetus: Forel, 1887: 382.
    • Status as species: Forel, 1887: 382; Forel, 1891b: 107; André, 1892a: 47; Dalla Torre, 1893: 47; Mayr, 1896: 236; Mayr, 1897: 426 (footnote); Forel, 1907a: 1; Santschi, 1910c: 351; Stitz, 1910: 131; Emery, 1911d: 108; Forel, 1913j: 203; Santschi, 1914d: 331; Stitz, 1916: 372; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 97, 790, 1012; Santschi, 1923e: 267; Santschi, 1935b: 263; Santschi, 1937b: 95; Menozzi, 1942: 166; Eidmann, 1944: 436; Bernard, 1953b: 211; Brown, 1978c: 556, 602; Bolton, 1995b: 63; Hita Garcia, et al. 2013: 219.
    • Senior synonym of camerunensis: Mayr, 1904b: 2; Emery, 1911d: 108; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 790; Brown, 1978c: 556; Bolton, 1995b: 63.
    • Senior synonym of pasteuri: Brown, 1978c: 556; Bolton, 1995b: 63.
    • Distribution: Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda.
  • camerunensis. Anochetus africanus var. camerunensis Mayr, 1896: 236 (w.m.) CAMEROON.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated), 1 syntype male.
    • Type-locality: Cameroon: (no further data) (Y. Sjöstedt).
    • Type-depository: NHMW (perhaps also in NHRS).
    • Emery, 1899e: 476 (q.).
    • Subspecies of africanus: Emery, 1899e: 476.
    • Junior synonym of africanus: Mayr, 1904b: 2; Emery, 1911d: 108; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 790; Brown, 1978c: 556; Bolton, 1995b: 64.
  • pasteuri. Anochetus pasteuri Santschi, 1923e: 265 (w.q.) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO.
    • Type-material: 1 syntype worker, 3 syntype queens.
    • Type-localities: Democratic Republic of Congo (“Congo belge”): 1 worker Kasai, Bashishombe, 7.viii.1922 (H. Schouteden), 2 queens Lesse (J. Bequaert), 1 queen Kamaiembi (Luebo) (H. Schouteden).
    • Type-depositories: MRAC, NHMB.
    • Junior synonym of africanus: Brown, 1978c: 556; Bolton, 1995b: 65.

Description

References

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • André E. 1892. Matériaux myrmécologiques. Rev. Entomol. (Caen) 11: 45-56.
  • Belshaw R., and B. Bolton. 1994. A survey of the leaf litter ant fauna in Ghana, West Africa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 3: 5-16.
  • Belshaw R., and B. Bolton. 1994. A survey of the leaf litter ant fauna in Ghana, West Africa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research. 3: 5-16.
  • Brown W.L. Jr. 1978. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. Part VI. Ponerinae, tribe Ponerini, subtribe Odontomachiti. Section B. Genus Anochetus and bibliography. Studia Ent. 20(1-4): 549-638.
  • CSIRO Collection
  • Eidmann H. 1944. Die Ameisenfauna von Fernando Poo. 27. Beitrag zu den Ergebnissen der Westafrika-Expedition. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Ökol. Geogr. Tiere 76: 413-490.
  • Emery C. 1899. Fourmis d'Afrique. Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 43: 459-504.
  • Emery C. 1911. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 118: 1-125.
  • Forel A. 1887. Fourmis récoltées à Madagascar par le Dr. Conrad Keller. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft 7: 381-389.
  • Forel A. 1913. Ameisen aus Rhodesia, Kapland usw. (Hym.) gesammelt von Herrn G. Arnold, Dr. H. Brauns und Anderen. Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 1913(Suppl.): 203-225.
  • Forel, A. "Ameisen aus Rhodesia, Kapland usw. (Hym.) gesammelt von Herrn G. Arnold, Dr. H. Brauns und Anderen." Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 1913(Suppl.) (1913): 203-225.
  • Garcia F.H., Wiesel E. and Fischer G. 2013.The Ants of Kenya (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)—Faunal Overview, First Species Checklist, Bibliography, Accounts for All Genera, and Discussion on Taxonomy and Zoogeography. Journal of East African Natural History, 101(2): 127-222
  • IZIKO South Africa Museum Collection
  • Kone M., S. Konate, K. Yeo, P. K. Kouassi, and K. E. Linsenmair. 2012. Changes in ant communities along an age gradient of cocoa cultivation in the Oumé region, central Côte d’Ivoire. Entomological Science 15: 324–339.
  • Levieux J., and T. Diomande. 1985. Evolution des peuplements de fourmis terricoles selon l'age de la végétation dans une foret de Cote d'Ivoire intacte ou soumise à l'action humaine. Insectes Sociaux 32(2): 128-139.
  • Lévieux J. 1977. La nutrition des fourmis tropicales: V- Elements de synthèse. Les modes d'exploitation de la biocenose. Insectes Sociaux 24(3): 235-260.
  • Majer J. D. 1976. The ant mosaic in Ghana cocoa farms: further structural considerations. Journal of Applied Ecology 13: 145-155.
  • Medler J. T. 1980: Insects of Nigeria - Check list and bibliography. Mem. Amer. Ent. Inst. 30: i-vii, 1-919.
  • Menozzi C. 1930. Formiche della Somalia italiana meridionale. Memorie della Società Entomologica Italiana. 9: 76-130.
  • Menozzi C. 1942. Formiche dell'isola Fernando Poo e del territorio del Rio Muni (Guinea Spagnola). 24. Beitrag zu den wissenschaftlichen Ergebnissen der Forschungsreise H. Eidmann nach Spanisch-Guinea 1939 bis 1940. Zoologischer Anzeiger 140: 164-182.
  • Santschi F. 1910. Formicides nouveaux ou peu connus du Congo français. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 78: 349-400.
  • Santschi F. 1935. Hymenoptera. I. Formicidae. Mission Scientifique de l'Omo 2: 255-277.
  • Taylor B. 1976. Ants of the Nigerian Forest Zone (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). I. Ponerinae, Cerapachyinae, Pseudomyrmecinae. Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria Technical Bulletin Series 4: 1-41.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1922. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VIII. A synonymic list of the ants of the Ethiopian region. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 45: 711-1004
  • Yeo K., T. Delsinne, S. Komate, L. L. Alonso, D. Aidara, and C. Peeters. 2016. Diversity and distribution of ant assemblages above and below ground in a West African forest–savannah mosaic (Lamto, Cote d’Ivoire). Insectes Sociaux DOI 10.1007/s00040-016-0527-6