Heteroponera relicta

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Heteroponera relicta
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Heteroponerinae
Genus: Heteroponera
Species group: relicta
Species complex: relicta
Species: H. relicta
Binomial name
Heteroponera relicta
(Wheeler, W.M., 1915)

MCZ-ENT00020426 Paranomopone relicta hal.jpg

MCZ-ENT00020426 Paranomopone relicta had.jpg

Type Specimen Label

At a Glance • Ergatoid queen  


Known from rainforest. Sympatric variously with Heteroponera pendergrasti and Heteroponera wilsoni, with Heteroponera ecarinata at Crawfords Lookout, and with Heteroponera darlingtonorum in the Paluma area.


Taylor (2015) - Heteroponera rhodopygea and H. relicta are closely similar and apparently phylogenetically cognate. They are not known to occur sympatrically, though both are recorded from (well separated) localities in EA4 (Carbine Tableland) and otherwise have extensive, well-defined allopatric distributional ranges. Heteroponera relicta workers are larger on average. HW of 40 randomly selected. Rhodopygea workers ranged from 1.18 to 1.39mm (mean 1.32mm, distribution roughly bimodal with modes at 1.28mm and 1.34mm. The main range was 1.26mm to 1.39mm, with a divergent small individual at I.18mm (see full measurements below). HW of 40 randomly selected H. relicta workers ranged from 1.19mm to 1.47mm (mean 1.36mm) with frequency distribution essentially flat. The main range was 1.32–1.47mm, with 4 small (?nanitic) individuals in the range 1.20–1.28mm. Thus 42% of measured H. relicta workers were larger than any measured rhodopygea worker. These comparisons could be affected by generational differences in stature among workers in growing colonies, and by geographical variation in maximum worker size.

Heteroponera darlingtonorum and Heteroponera wilsoni are both similar to H. relicta, but with distinctive sculptural differences, and somewhat simplified morphological structural detail, especially in H. wilsoni. In both species the propodeum is dorsally slightly inflated and less strongly sloping posterodorsally in profile view than in H. relicta.

Identification Keys including this Taxon


Abundantly known from many localities centered on the Atherton Tableland of NE Qld, north to near Mossman and south almost to the latitude of Townsville.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -16.25° to -20.578928°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb



Queens are ergatoid with 8 ovarioles, while workers have 2 ovarioles (Peeters 1991, Wheeler 1915)




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

  • relicta. Paranomopone relicta Wheeler, W.M. 1915c: 188, pl. 8 (w.q.l.) AUSTRALIA (Queensland).
    • Type-material: 2 syntype workers, 1 syntype queen.
    • Type-locality: Australia: N Queensland, Kuranda, 28.x.1914 (W.M. Wheeler).
    • Type-depository: MCZC.
    • Imai, Crozier & Taylor, 1977: 347 (k.).
    • Combination in Heteroponera: Brown, 1958g: 196.
    • Status as species Brown, 1958g: 196, Taylor & Brown, 1985: 30; Taylor, 1987a: 29; Bolton, 1995b: 212; Taylor, 2015b: 158 (redescription).
    • Distribution: Australia.

Type Material

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



Taylor (2015) - Body color frequently more nearly black than illustrated. Described in adequate detail by Wheeler (1915). Readily identified by key characters cited above and the accompanying illustrations. Humeral angles and pronotal epaulets well-developed. Scrobes generally smooth and shining, usually with very light rippling of the surfaces of the medial scrobal areas. Propodeal declivity smooth and shining, sometimes with slight traces of irregular longitudinal sculpturing. Lateral margins of declivity simple, essentially the unelaborated edges of the lateral and dorsal propodeal sculpturation. A small smooth, shining area medially on the posterior surface of the node. (Smallest available specimen (Black Mountain Rd, Kuranda), largest available specimen (Downey Creek)): TL (ca): 5.1, 6.0; HW: 1.19, 1.47; HL: 1.14, 1.34; CI: 104, 109; EL: 0. 19, 0.24; SL: 0.70, 0.82; SI: 58, 56; PW: 0.83, 1.07; WL: 1.42, 1.72; petH: – , 0.96; petW: 0.43, 0.62; GW 0.98, 1.21.


Taylor (2015) - General features and major sculpturation as in Figures. Head size, proportions, structure and sculpturation close to the worker range. One specimen has an apparently unreduced median ocellus (as did Wheeler’s (1915) Kuranda gyne). Mesosoma remarkably worker-like (considering that structural reduction from alate ancestry must have occurred separately from that in the evolution of the worker caste), with vestigial traces of ancestral alate-related structure as illustrated; sculpturation less strongly expressed than in worker; PW and WL generally within the worker range, WL ranging slightly higher. Four specimens from colonies collected at Mossman Gorge, Malanda Falls, Lake Eacham, and Palmerston National Park have the following dimensions: TL (ca): 5.7, 6.6, 6.5, 6.5; HW: 1.28, 1.38, 1.38, 1.40; HL: 1.23, 1.31, 1.33, 1.30; CI: 104, 105, 103, 107; EL: 0.23, 0.25, 0.25, 0.26; SL: 0.72, 0.76, 0.75, 0.74; SI: 56, 55, 54, 53; PW: 0.97, 0.97, 1.02, 1.06; WL: 1.59, 1.75, 1.73, 1.79; petH: - , 1.15, 1.00, 1.11; petW: 0.70, 0.81, 0.75, 0.72; GW (across gastral segment III): 1.58, 1.68, 1.69, 1.66. Two specimens from Platypus Creek have HW 1.36mm.


  • n = 11, 2n = 22, karyotype = 2A + 20M (Australia) (Imai et al., 1977; Mariano et al., 2015).

Identification Clarification

Taylor (2015) - H. relicta was included in Feitosa’s (2011) phylogenetic analysis as a sister species to H. rhodopygea (his “Heteroponera sp A”).