Bothroponera cavernosa

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Bothroponera cavernosa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Bothroponera
Species group: pumicosa
Species: B. cavernosa
Binomial name
Bothroponera cavernosa
(Roger, 1860)

Pachycondyla cavernosa sam-hym-c008788b profile 1.jpg

Pachycondyla cavernosa sam-hym-c008788b dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Known from a few collections from South Africa, little is known about the biology of this species.


Joma and Mackay (2015) - A member of the Bothroponera pumicosa species complex. The main distinguishing character of the worker B. cavernosa is the lack of foveolae on the second tergum of the gaster, which is rough and covered with short hairs. The worker is large (total length 12 mm). The anterior margin of the clypeus is “v” shaped and covered with fine striae. The anterior medial area of the clypeus is raised, covered with longitudinal striae and coarsely punctate on the sides with an incomplete clypeal carina. The mandibles are rough, moderately shiny and covered with striae. The scape extends slightly past the posterior lateral border of the head. The frontal lobes are sculptured and covered with striae. The frons is weakly striated. The propodeal spiracle is parallel to the posteropropodeal margin. The petiole is rounded and slightly narrowed anteriorly while it is vertical, slightly concave posteriorly (seen from above).

Bothroponera cavernosa is very easy to recognize as it is one of the five species in the Bothroponera pumicosa species complex with a specific form of the tergum of the 4th segment of the abdomen (2nd gastral tergite), that is rough and covered with short hairs. The other species are Bothroponera laevissima, Bothroponera aspera, Bothroponera umgodikulula and Bothroponera montivaga. The 2nd gastral segment of B. umgodikulula is mostly smooth and glossy, similar to that of B. aspera and B. laevissima, while in Bothroponera montivaga it is smooth with few shallow scattered punctures and is moderately shiny. The head shape of B. cavernosa, B. aspera, and B. laevissima is suborbicular while it is subquadrate in B. umgodikulula and B. montivaga. The other important differences between B. cavernosa, B. umgodikulula and B. montivaga compared to B. laevissima and B. aspera is that the body surface is heavily sculptured with foveolae in B. cavernosa, B. umgodikulula and B. montivaga while it is black, nearly smooth and shiny in B. laevissima and B. aspera with a few scattered punctures in B. aspera. Bothroponera cavernosa and B. umgodikulula both share all of the characteristics of B. montivaga except for the propodeal spiracle, which is obliquely vertical in B. montivaga and B. cavernosa while it is horizontal in B. umgodikulula. The anterior medial area of the clypeus is raised and does not form a complete clypeal carina in B. cavernosa (it is partially carinated). On the other hand, the anterior medial area of the clypeus of B. umgodikulula and B. montivaga is mostly smooth, and does not form carinae and in some specimens of B. montivaga the carina is only on the upper part of the anterior medial raised area of the clypeus while the lower part is smooth.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -26.96667° to -34.26667°.

Tropical South

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.




Bothroponera cavernosa hef.jpgBothroponera cavernosa hal.jpgBothroponera cavernosa had.jpgBothroponera cavernosa lbs.jpg
. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.


Pachycondyla cavernosa sam-hym-c008788a head 1.jpgPachycondyla cavernosa sam-hym-c008788a profile 1.jpgPachycondyla cavernosa sam-hym-c008788a dorsal 1.jpgPachycondyla cavernosa sam-hym-c008788a label 1.jpg


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

  • cavernosa. Ponera cavernosa Roger, 1860: 288 (w.) SOUTH AFRICA (“Africa im Kaffernlande”).
    • Combination in Pachycondyla (Bothroponera): Emery, 1901a: 45;
    • combination in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 304;
    • combination in Bothroponera: Mayr, 1862: 717; Roger, 1863b: 16; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 72; Joma & Mackay, 2013: 3; Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, 2014: 76.
    • Status as species: Roger, 1863b: 16; Mayr, 1863: 397; Dalla Torre, 1893: 36; Emery, 1911d: 76; Arnold, 1915: 60; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 72 (in key); 769; Arnold, 1947: 132; Arnold, 1952a: 461 (in key); Bolton, 1995b: 303; Joma & Mackay, 2015: 549 (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=1), HL 3.00, HW 2.70, ML 1.45, EW 0.40, EL 0.45, SL 2.10, FL 3.60, WL 4.15, WPL 4.70, PL 1.15, PW 1.45, PH 1.75, CI 90, OI 17, MI 48.33, SI 78, PI 126.08. Head suborbiculate; mandibles covered with fine striae, with 7 teeth; clypeus covered with striae, anterior medial area raised to form discontinuous carina, coarsely punctate and rough on sides, clypeal length 2.35 mm; scape extends slightly past posterior border of head; maximum frontal lobe width 1.10 mm; length of malar space 0.55 mm; length from upper edge of eye to edge of posterior lobe 1.40 mm; pronotal shoulder rounded anteriorly, lower margin of pronotum straight with rounded anteroinferior pronotal process, pointed inferior pronotal process; basilar sclerite oval shaped; head mostly foveolate; antennae rough, scape covered with tiny shallow punctures, legs shiny; entire dorsum of mesosoma foveolate and rough; mesopleuron, lateropropodeum foveolate; metapleuron, lateropropodeum covered with coarse striae and grooves orientated perpendicular to posteropropodeal margin; dorsum of petiole and postpetiole coarsely foveolate and more punctate than other body parts; metapleuron and lateropropodeum covered with striae that have perpendicular orientation with posteropropodeal lateral margin; entire head, pronotum, mesonotum, propodeum, petiole, postpetiole covered with short erect golden hairs (up to 0.20 mm), on head, antennae, mandibles (0.03 - 0.08 mm in length), on pronotum, mesonotum, propodeum (up to 0.10 mm length), on petiole, postpetiole (0.13 - 0.15 mm in length); sternopostpetiolar process and 4th to 7th abdominal segments covered with relatively short (0.20 mm) erect golden hairs; head, mesosoma, petiole, 3rd - 7th abdominal segments black; mandibles, clypeus, appendages brownish red.

Type Material

Joma and Mackay (2015) - SOUTH AFRICA: Eastern Cape Province, Caffraria Drege, farm, 27°48’0’’ S; 25°7’0’’ E, Bothroponera cavernosa Roger, Mayr (1 w # 7165 GBIF-D/ FoCol 0955, holotype, MfN).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Arnold G. 1915. A monograph of the Formicidae of South Africa. Part I. Ponerinae, Dorylinae. Annals of the South African Museum 14: 1-159.
  • Arnold G. 1947. New species of African Hymenoptera. No. 7. Occasional Papers of the National Museum of Southern Rhodesia. 2: 131-167.
  • Botes, A., M.A. McGeoch, H.G. Robertson, A. van Niekerk, H.P. Davids and S.L. Chown. 2006. Ants, altitude and change in the northern Cape Floristic Region. Journal of Biogeography 33:71-90
  • 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