Bothroponera aspera

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Bothroponera aspera
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Bothroponera
Species group: pumicosa
Species: B. aspera
Binomial name
Bothroponera aspera
Arnold, 1962

Bothroponera aspera had.jpg

Bothroponera aspera hal.jpg

Paratype Label

Individuals were found to be living in holes in the ground at Ysterfontein (Yzerfontein), in the southern part of the Saldanha Bay area. This area is characterized as part of the Fynbos biome. (Arnold 1962, Joma and Mackay 2015)


Joma and Mackay (2015) - A member of the Bothroponera pumicosa species complex. The worker of Bothroponera aspera is large (total length 12 - 13 mm). The mandibles are triangular, shorter than the head length, and smooth. The anterior medial margin of the clypeus is convex, with a single raised medial carina, the anterior margin of the clypeus is “v” shaped. The scape reaches the posterior lateral corner of head or surpasses it by a short distance.

The lower margin of the pronotum is straight, rounded anteriorly (anteroinferior pronotal process) and posteriorly (inferior pronotal process).

In general, the head is shiny, but rough with dense, shallow punctures. The pronotum, mesonotum, propodeum, mesopleuron, petiole, and postpetiole are shiny, but rough with dense, shallow punctures. The terga of the fourth - seventh abdominal segments are mostly smooth and glossy while the entire remainder of the body is sculptured.

Keys including this Species


This species is only known from Saldanha Bay, South Africa.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: South Africa (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.




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

  • aspera. Bothroponera laevissima var. aspera Arnold, 1962: 844 (w.) SOUTH AFRICA.
    • Combination in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 303;
    • combination in Bothroponera: Joma & Mackay, 2013: 3; Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, 2014: 76.
    • Subspecies of laevissima: Bolton, 1995b: 303.
    • Status as species: Joma & Mackay, 2015: 543 (redescription).

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



Joma and Mackay (2015) - (n=2), HL 2.55 - 2.75, HW 2.30 - 2.50, ML 1.35 - 1.65, EW 0.35 - 0.40, EL 0.40 - 0.45, SL 1.90 - 2.00, FL 2.35 - 2.80, WL 3.50 - 3.75, WPL 4.35 - 4.70, PL 1.10, PW 1.15 - 1.30, PH 1.40 - 1.45, CI 90.19 - 90.90, OI 17.39 - 18.00, MandI 52.94 - 60.00, SI 80.00 - 82.60, PetI 104.54 - 118.18. Head suborbiculate; mandibles with 7 teeth; maximum clypeal length 2.15 mm; maximum frontal lobe width in full face view 1.00 mm; malar space from side 0.55 mm, length from upper margin of eye to upper margin of occipital lobe 1.25 - 1.30 mm; basilar sclerite oval shaped; propodeum rounded posteriorly; propodeal spiracle elongated, obliquely vertical; petiole rounded anteriorly, posterior face vertical, slightly concave posteriorly; pronotum, mesonotum, propodeum, mesopleuron, petiole, postpetiole shiny, densely punctulate; tergum of second gastral segment mostly smooth, glossy, entire remainder of body sculptured; entire body and head covered with scattered or moderately abundant short erect silver hairs (0.07 - 0.10 mm), erect hairs on petiole and postpetiole range from 0.10 - 0.15 mm, denser on dorsum than on sides, longer than on head, scape covered with short erect silver hairs (up to 0.07 mm); body black; legs, antennae, mandibles brownish.

The worker of B. aspera is similar to the worker of Bothroponera laevissima; however, there are two main differences between them. The first difference is the body sculpturing, which is partially sculptured in B. aspera while it is less sculptured and glossy in B. laevissima. The head of B. aspera is shiny with dense punctures whereas it is shiny with few scattered shallow punctures in B. laevissima. The pronotum, mesonotum, propodeum, mesopleuron, petiole and postpetiole are shiny and densely punctulate in B. aspera. On the other hand, in B. laevissima, the pronotum, mesonotum, propodeum, mesopleuron, and petiole are rough and shiny with a few scattered punctures, but the postpetiole and the 4th abdominal segment along with 5th to 7th abdominal segments are smooth and glossy. The tergum of the second gastral segment is mostly smooth and glossy in B. aspera as well. Secondly, the clypeal structure is different in the two species. The clypeus is “v” shaped in B. aspera and does not form a carina on the medial raised area, which is sculptured on the sides and without a grooved beak on the lower medial margin of the posteroclypeus whereas the clypeus in B. laevissima is “u” shaped. The lower margin of the medial raised area of the clypeus of B. laevissima does not form a carina, but the grooved beak on the lower margin of the clypeus is present. Other than that, it is easy to distinguish both B. aspera and B. laevissima from the rest of the Bothroponera pumicosa species complex members. The black, smooth, and shiny surface with punctures is found only in B. aspera and B. laevissima. The other B. cavernosa species are characterized by having coarse foveolae on the body surface; however, the 4th abdominal segment is similar in some species to that of B. aspera and B. laevissima, such as Bothroponera umgodikulula, Bothroponera cavernosa and Bothroponera montivaga.

There is a specimen from the South Africa Museum that was identified as Bothroponera aspera which is quite similar to the paratype specimen of B. aspera. This specimen and the paratype of B. aspera are from the same locality (Ysterfontein area), but the labels do not indicate if they are from the same nest. We distinguished it from the paratype specimen of B. aspera because it does not have the typical clypeal shape. This excluded specimen is possibly a new species of Bothroponera that belongs to B. pumicosa species complex. It has broad and slightly convex lower margin of the clypeus. The anterior medial area of the clypeus is completely lacking the “V” and “U” shapes of the anterior medial area of the clypeus that were obvious in all of the other B. pumicosa complex members. However, further specimens are needed to evaluate this taxon.

Type Material

Joma and Mackay (2015) - SOUTH AFRICA: Western Cape Province, Ysterfontein, farmstead, 33°1’0’’ S; 18°9’0’’ E, Dr. A. J. Hesse and Mr. Thom; Bothroponera laevissima var. aspera, Det. G. Arnold, South Africa museum ex. National museum Bulawayo 1981; SAM-ENT, 9:60 (1 w #11519, Paratype [designator not specified] Iziko).