Centromyrmex sellaris

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Centromyrmex sellaris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Centromyrmex
Species: C. sellaris
Binomial name
Centromyrmex sellaris
Mayr, 1896

Centromyrmex sellaris casent0066705 profile 1.jpg

Centromyrmex sellaris casent0066705 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Specimen labels show Centromyrmex sellaris has been collected from termitaries of the genus Odontotermes.


A member of the feae species group. This species and Centromyrmex angolensis are the most widely distributed and most commonly encountered species of the feae group in Africa. Superficially the two look very similar, but angolensis always has a longer, narrower head and only ever has a single stout spiniform seta at the apex of the anterior surface of the metatibia, about opposite the pectinate spur. In addition, the basal mandibular tooth in angolensis is generally absent, sometimes vestigially present, but there is never the basal tooth + diastema arrangement that is characteristic of sellaris. Care should be taken with this character because of variation in development in sellaris but it is usually a good indicator of the species. (Bolton and Fisher 2008)

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 10.64° to -20.16667°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Cameroun (type locality), Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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.


worker from Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
Explore-icon.png Explore Overview of Centromyrmex biology 
All of the species in the genus appear to be termitophagous and all are superbly adapted to this specialised predatory life style. Observations of some species have found them to be rather helpless when placed in an exposed, open situation. Weber described what happened when he found a worker “just beneath the soil surface under a thin cover of dead leaves”. The ant was “completely helpless when exposed to the daylight and writhed about when placed on the ground or in my palm. It made no attempt to run away, curling and uncurling without stinging, though it had a long, stout sting”. In other words, it seemed unable to walk when removed from its specialised habitat and placed on a surface where it could not use its specialised legs. If not discovered within a termite nest, individuals are occasionally found in the top soil or the root-mat below the leaf litter layer, where their short, powerful, spiny legs facilitate their movement. (Weber 1949, Bolton and Fisher 2008).



MCZ-ENT00511964 Centromyrmex sellaris had 6-3.jpgMCZ-ENT00511964 Centromyrmex sellaris hal 3-2.jpgMCZ-ENT00511964 Centromyrmex sellaris had 3-2.jpgMCZ-ENT00511964 Centromyrmex sellaris lbs.jpg
. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Centromyrmex sellaris sam-ent-0011511a head 1.jpgCentromyrmex sellaris sam-ent-0011511a profile 1.jpgCentromyrmex sellaris sam-ent-0011511a dorsal 1.jpgCentromyrmex sellaris sam-ent-0011511a label 1.jpg


Centromyrmex sellaris sam-ent-0011511b head 1.jpgCentromyrmex sellaris sam-ent-0011511b dorsal 1.jpgCentromyrmex sellaris sam-ent-0011511b label 1.jpg


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

  • sellaris. Centromyrmex sellaris Mayr, 1896: 230 (w.) CAMEROON.
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: Cameroon: (no further data), 1891 (Y. Sjöstedt).
    • Type-depository: NHRS.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1911d: 58; Santschi, 1914d: 313; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 762; Menozzi, 1933a: 96; Bolton, 1995b: 140; Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 22 (redescription); Hita Garcia, et al. 2013: 219.
    • Senior synonym of arnoldi: Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 22.
    • Senior synonym of congolensis: Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 23.
    • Senior synonym of constanciae: Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 22.
    • Senior synonym of guineensis: Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 23.
    • Distribution: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
  • arnoldi. Centromyrmex arnoldi Santschi, 1919b: 229, figs. a-d (w.m.) MOZAMBIQUE.
    • Type-material: syntype workers and males (numbers not stated).
    • [Note: syntypes 2 workers, 3 males: Baroni Urbani, 1973b: 132.]
    • Type-locality: Mozambique (“Est-Africain portugais”): Amatongas Forest, ix.1917 (G. Arnold)).
    • Type-depository: NHMB.
    • Subspecies of constanciae: Santschi, 1920b: 8; Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 762.
    • Junior synonym of constanciae: Arnold, 1926: 199 (in text); Bolton, 1995b: 140.
    • Junior synonym of sellaris: Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 22.
  • congolensis. Centromyrmex congolensis Weber, 1949b: 5, figs. 3, 4 (w.) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO.
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: Democratic Republic of Congo (“Belgian Congo”): Niangara, 1.iii.1948, just beneath soil surface under a thin cover of dead leaves (N.A. Weber).
    • Type-depository: AMNH (holotype lost, not in AMNH or MCZC).
    • Status as species: Bolton, 1995b: 140.
    • Junior synonym of sellaris: Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 23.
  • constanciae. Centromyrmex constanciae Arnold, 1915: 38, pl. 2, fig. 14a-c (w.q.) ZIMBABWE.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated), 1 syntype queen.
    • Type-locality: Zimbabwe: Bulawayo, Bembesi, 24.iii.1913, under large stones (G. Arnold).
    • Type-depositories: BMNH, SAMC.
    • Arnold, 1926: 199 (m.).
    • Status as species: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 762; Arnold, 1926: 199; Santschi, 1930b: 59; Bolton, 1995b: 140.
    • Junior synonym of sellaris: Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 22.
  • guineensis. Centromyrmex arnoldi r. guineensis Bernard, 1953b: 186, fig. 1d (w.) GUINEA.
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: Guinea: Mt Nimba, Nion, st. 22, 700 m., 15.iv.1942 (Lamotte).
    • Type-depository: MNHN.
    • Subspecies of constanciae: Bolton, 1995b: 140.
    • Junior synonym of sellaris: Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 23.

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



Bolton and Fisher (2008) - TL 4.8-6.1, HL 0.84-0.98, HW 0.90-1.13, CI 108-118, ML 0.58-0.72, MI 68-75, SL 0.64-0.76, SI 67-73, PW 0.74-0.92, WL 1.54-1.80 (15 measured).

With characters of the genus and the feae group. Head capsule in full-face view always appears obviously broader than long, CI 108 or usually more. Mandibles smooth with scattered small punctures. Masticatory margin of mandible with 7–10 small, low blunt teeth that are usually broadly low-triangular but are often reduced to mere crenulations when worn. Basal tooth at basal angle of mandible and usually obvious, only rarely reduced and insignificant. Distal of the basal tooth there is usually a diastema before the next tooth on one or both of the mandibles, but sometimes this is not apparent as a denticle may be present within the diastema on one, or less often both, of the mandibles. Dorsum and sides of head with scattered punctures on smooth cuticle, and also with weak striation within the antennal fossae and on the sides, especially anteriorly. Extent of the striate component is variable. Metatibia with only normal setae dorsally but its anterior surface, at the apex and approximately opposite the pectinate spur, with 2 (3 in a single specimen) much stouter and usually more darkly coloured spiniform setae. Petiole node in dorsal view broader than long. Pronotal dorsum, and anterior mesonotum, with widely scattered broad, shallow punctures that may be almost effaced. Pronotum dorsally also with variable weak oblique or arched faint disorganised sculpture. Colour yellow to light brown.


Bolton and Fisher (2008) - TL 6.9, HL 1.01, HW 1.12, CI 111, OI 32, ML 0.70, MI 69, SL 0.80, SI 71, PW 1.11, WL 2.00. The queen of this species should run out correctly in the key to workers but care should be taken as the queens of longiventris and ereptor remain unknown. The form of the mandible described above for the worker is reproduced in the queen caste.

Type Material

Type Specimen Labels

Bolton and Fisher (2008) - Holotype worker, CAMEROUN: no loc. 1891 (Y. Sjöstedt) (Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet) [examined] (see note 1).

Centromyrmex constanciae Syntype workers and queen, ZIMBABWE: Bembesi, 24.iii.1913 (The Natural History Museum) [worker examined].

Centromyrmex arnoldi Santschi, 1919: 229, figs. a–d. Syntype workers and males, MOZAMBIQUE: Amatongas Forest, ix.1917 (G. Arnold) (Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel) [examined].

Centromyrmex congolensis Holotype worker, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Niangara, 1.iii.1948 (N.A. Weber) (not in American Museum of Natural History or Museum of Comparative Zoology, presumed lost; see note 2).

Centromyrmex arnoldi r. guineensis Holotype worker, GUINEA: Mt Nimba, Nion, St.22, 700 m., 15.iv.1942 (Lamotte) (Musee National d'Histoire Naturelle) [examined].


1 The unique holotype of sellaris was discovered by Dr Hege Vårdal in the NHRS collection, still preserved in alcohol after 117 years. The specimen was accompanied by three labels, two of which merely stated “Camerun” and “Sjöstedt” respectively. A larger and more informative label carried the information “Riksmuseets Entomologiska Afdelning. Centromyrmex sellaris Mayr n. sp. Typ. Kamerun, 1891. Colleg. Y. Sjöstedt”. The holotype has now been mounted upon a standard card point.

2 Although the holotype of congolensis appears to have been lost, it is possible that it may still be present but unrecognised in Weber’s material, either at AMNH or MCZC. Fortunately, the original description and figures are sufficient to allow identification of the taxon. For these reasons, and because the name is a junior synonym, a neotype has not been designated.

Determination Clarifications

Bolton and Fisher (2008) - The species referred to as C. sellaris in Lévieux (1976, 1983) is correctly identified, as indicated by voucher specimens deposited in MCZC.


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.
  • Bernard F. 1953. La réserve naturelle intégrale du Mt Nimba. XI. Hyménoptères Formicidae. Mémoires de l'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire 19: 165-270.
  • Bolton B., and B. L. Fisher. 2008. Afrotropical ants of the ponerine genera Centromyrmex Mayr, Promyopias Santschi gen. rev. and Feroponera gen. n., with a revised key to genera of African Ponerinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 1929: 1-37.
  • Bolton, B., and B. L. Fisher. "Afrotropical ants of the ponerine genera Centromyrmex Mayr, Promyopias Santschi gen. rev. and Feroponera gen. n., with a revised key to genera of African Ponerinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)." Zootaxa 1929 (2008): 1-37. Abstract
  • Fisher B. L. 2004. Diversity patterns of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) along an elevational gradient on Monts Doudou in southwestern Gabon. Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences 28: 269-286.
  • 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. 1972. Etude du peuplement en fourmis terricoles d'une savane preforestiere de Cote d'Ivoire. Revue d'Ecologie et de Biologie du Sol 10(3): 381-428.
  • 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. 1972. Les fourmis de la savane de Lamto (Côte d'Ivoire): éléments de taxonomie. Bulletin de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire. Série A. Sciences Naturelles 34: 611-654.
  • Menozzi C. 1932. Raccolte mirmecologiche dell'Africa orientale conservate nel Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Giacomo Doria di Genova. Parte II. Formiche dell'Uganda e delle isole Sesse raccolte dal Dr. E. Bayon. [part]. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Giacomo Doria. 56: 93-112.
  • Santschi, F.. "Résultats de la Mission scientifique suisse en Angola, 1928-1929. Formicides de l'Angola." Revue Suisse de Zoologie 37 (1930): 53-81.
  • 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.
  • Weber N. A. 1964. Termite prey of some African ants. Entomological News 75: 197-204.
  • Yeo K., S. Konate, S. Tiho, and S. K. Camara. 2011. Impacts of land use types on ant communities in a tropical forest margin (Oumé - Cote d'Ivoire). African Journal of Agricultural Research 6(2): 260-274.
  • 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