Hypoponera ragusai

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Hypoponera ragusai
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Hypoponera
Species: H. ragusai
Binomial name
Hypoponera ragusai
(Emery, 1894)

Hypoponera ragusai casent0102273 profile 1.jpg

Hypoponera ragusai casent0102273 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Common Name
(Hypoponera gleadowi)
Language: Japanese

A wide ranging species that is typically collected as very few individuals. Nests are in the soil. Discerning its distribution is difficult as this and other similar species are plagued by misidentification problems (see the nomenclature section below).


A member of the punctatissima group. Total length of workers around 2.5 mm. Body color yellow to yellowish brown. Scapes not reaching median posterior border of head. Eyes of 1 - 3 facets, situated very near the posterior margin of clypeus (the distance from clypeus to anterior margin of eyes is twice the eye diameter). Petiole thick, 1.5 times as broad as long. Subpetiolar process subtriangular.

Keys including this Species


The list of countries where this species has been recorded from is problematic due to misidentifications (see the nomenclature section below).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 43.250538° to 25.789167°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Ethiopia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates.
Australasian Region: New Caledonia.
Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Solomon Islands.
Malagasy Region: Seychelles.
Nearctic Region: United States.
Neotropical Region: Guadeloupe.
Oriental Region: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan.
Palaearctic Region: Algeria, Canary Islands, China, Egypt, France, Iberian Peninsula, Israel, Italy (type locality), Japan, Malta, Republic of Korea, Spain, Tunisia.

It is also found in New Caledonia, Philippines, United States, Israel, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Seychelles, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Italy, Malta, France, Fiji, Canary Islands, Taiwan, French Polynesia, Borneo and Hawaii.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Regional Information

Espadaler (2007) - Canary Islands: A nest with 13 workers was recovered in the humid spot under a stone, a few meters from the sea in 1989.

Bharti et al. (2015) - In India Hypoponera ragusai seems to be general in distribution and has been collected in non-forest as well as forest habitats.


Worker-queen intercastes (ergatoids), alate queens, and alate and ergatoid males are known.




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

  • ragusai. Ponera ragusai Emery, 1894h: 28 (w.) ITALY (Sicily). [Also described as new by Emery, 1895b: 65. Unjustified emendation of spelling to ragusae: Emery, 1911d: 91.] Santschi, 1907: 313 (w.q., ergatoid q., ergatoid m.); Santschi, 1908: 519 (m.); Emery, 1916b: 109 (q.). Combination in Hypoponera: Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 18. Senior synonym of gyptis, lesnei, massiliensis, parva: Bernard, 1967: 88; of aethiopica, decipiens, formosae, gleadowi, oblongiceps, santschii: Bolton & Fisher, 2011: 94. See also: Wheeler, W.M. 1937c: 59.
  • gleadowi. Ponera gleadowi Forel, in Emery, 1895b: 60 (footnote and in key) (w., ergatoid q.) INDIA. [Ponera gleadowi Emery, 1893f: 242. Nomen nudum, attributed to Forel.] Combination in Hypoponera: Taylor, 1967a: 12. Senior synonym of formosae: Taylor, 1967a: 76; of oblongiceps: Taylor, 1968a: 65; of decipiens: Onoyama, 1989b: 5. Junior synonym of ragusai: Bolton & Fisher, 2011: 94. See also: Bingham, 1903: 91; Onoyama, 1989b: 5.
  • aethiopica. Ponera gleadowi subsp. aethiopica Forel, 1907c: 132 (q.) ETHIOPIA. [Unresolved junior primary homonym of Ponera aethiopica Smith, F. 1858b: 91 (now in Streblognathus).] Combination in Hypoponera: Bolton, 1995b: 213. Raised to species: Bernard, 1953b: 199 (in key). Junior synonym of ragusai: Bolton & Fisher, 2011: 94.
  • decipiens. Ponera gleadowii r. decipiens Forel, 1899a: 118 (w.) HAWAII. Junior synonym of gleadowi: Wilson, 1958d: 328; of punctatissima: Wilson & Taylor, 1967: 29 (in text); of gleadowi: Onoyama, 1989b: 5; of ragusai: Bolton & Fisher, 2011: 94.
  • gyptis. Ponera gyptis Santschi, 1921b: 435. Unnecessary (second) replacement name for parva Bondroit, 1918: 85. [Junior primary homonym of parva Forel, 1909a: 244.] Junior synonym of massiliensis: Bolton, 1995b: 214.
  • formosae. Ponera japonica r. formosae Forel, 1913f: 186 (w.) TAIWAN. Junior synonym of gleadowi: Taylor, 1967a: 76; of ragusai: Bolton & Fisher, 2011: 94.
  • lesnei. Ponera lesnei Bondroit, 1916: 212, fig. (w.) FRANCE. Junior synonym of ragusai: Bernard, 1967: 88.
  • massiliensis. Ponera massiliensis Bondroit, 1920a: 158. Replacement name for parva Bondroit, 1918: 85. [Junior primary homonym of parva Forel, 1909a: 244.] Senior synonym of gyptis (unnecessary second replacement name): Bolton, 1995b: 215. Junior synonym of ragusai: Bernard, 1967: 88.
  • oblongiceps. Ponera oblongiceps Smith, M.R. 1939a: 76, figs. 1-3 (w.q. ergatoid m.) U.S.A. Junior synonym of gleadowi: Taylor, 1968a: 65; of ragusai: Bolton & Fisher, 2011: 95.
  • parva. Ponera parva Bondroit, 1918: 85 (w.) FRANCE. [Junior primary homonym of parva Forel, above.] Replacement name: massiliensis: Bondroit, 1920a: 158.
  • santschii. Ponera ragusai var. santschii Emery, 1909c: 371, fig. 9 (w.q., ergatoid q., ergatoid m.) ALGERIA. Combination in Hypoponera: Bolton, 1995b: 216. Junior synonym of ragusai: Bolton & Fisher, 2011: 94.

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

Bolton and Fisher (2011) - Under the name H. ragusai this species is recorded by scattered small collections, usually of only one or two workers, and at first glance is distributed over an enormous geographical range. In a recent paper, Tinaut (2001) newly recorded the species from Spain (but see below) and summarised the known distribution of ragusai as Italy (Sicily), southern France, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, central Sahara and eastern Africa. In addition, Dorow (1995) has recorded it from the Seychelles and Collingwood & Agosti (1996) have noted it in Saudi Arabia. Tinaut, quoting Mei (1992), said that, “it is doubtful that all these records refer to the same species”, a comment with which we fully agree because the entire group is plagued with misidentifications. The records from “eastern Africa” probably refer only to the catalogued names ragusai bulawayensis from Zimbabwe, and ragusai sordida from Kenya, but it is now known that neither of these is correctly associated with ragusai. Hypoponera bulawayensis is a valid species in an entirely different species group (abeillei group) and ragusai sordida is a junior synonym of Hypoponera punctatissima. The same problem of confused identity appears also to affect Tinaut’s (2001) paper itself, because his fig. 1, supposedly of the petiole of ragusai, has an LPeI ca 46, which is within the range of punctatissima but considerably below that of ragusai (LPI 55–61). He also notes the presence of two castes of ergatoid male, eyed and eyeless, which are known for punctatissima but not elsewhere. It is most probable that his ragusai material consists of misidentified specimens of punctatissima. Thus, the only genuine earlier records for the circum-Mediterranean area include the original descriptions and those summarised in Baroni Urbani (1971) for Italy (Sicily), Bernard (1967) for France, and Emery (1909) for Tunisia, Algeria and Syria. The later records from Seychelles and Saudi Arabia await confirmation.

On a world-wide scale, ragusai is better known by its junior synonym, gleadowi, which was generally considered to be primarily Oriental, but obviously with well-developed tramping ability. Imai, et al. (2003) gave the known distribution of gleadowi as India, Korean Peninsula, Japan, Taiwan, Hawaii and the continental U.S.A. More recently, Evenhuis (2007) listed it from Fiji, but this identity remains unconfirmed. H. ragusai (= gleadowi) is not recorded from Polynesia by Wilson & Taylor (1967), but in view of the fact that Onoyama (1989) has shown that Hypoponera decipiens, from Hawaii and treated by Wilson & Taylor as a junior synonym of punctatissima, belongs to this species, it is likely to be present but misidentified among their punctatissima material. Indeed, Wilson & Taylor (1967: 29) hint at this possibility. In all places and under both names the species appears to be rare, or perhaps collectors have mostly missed its favoured habitat.



Bolton and Fisher (2011) - Measurements: HL 0.56–0.62, HW 0.42–0.50, HS 0.490–0.555, SL 0.36–0.43, PrW 0.32–0.38, WL 0.68–0.78, HFL 0.34–0.42, PeNL 0.16–0.18, PeH 0.26–0.30, PeNW 0.20–0.24, PeS 0.203–0.247 (17 measured). Indices: CI 74–82, SI 81–87, PeNI 62–68, LPeI 55–61, DPeI 120–140.

Answering the general description of Hypoponera punctatissima and superficially very similar to the smallest workers of that species, but the shape and relative dimensions of the petiole node are consistently different.

1 In profile the petiole node of ragusai is more blocky, lower and relatively longer, with PeH 0.26–0.30 and LPeI 55–61. (In punctatissima, PeH 0.30–0.39 and LPeI 43–53.)

2 In dorsal view the petiole node of ragusai is longer and relatively narrower, DPeI 120–140. (In punctatissima, DPeI 140–165.)

In addition to these differences in the shape of the petiole node, H. ragusai workers are always yellow to light brownish yellow, fall at the bottom end of the known size range of punctatissima (e.g. HW 0.42–0.50, versus 0.46– 0.60 in punctatissima) and have heads that average relatively slightly narrower and scapes that are relatively slightly longer than in punctatissima; compare CI and SI above with CI 79–87 and SI 75–84 in punctatissima. Finally, the queen of ragusai is considerably darker in colour than her workers, whereas in punctatissima the two castes have the same colour.


Bharti et al. (2015) - HL 0.63-0.67, HW 0.51- 0.54, HS 0.59-0.61, SL 0.40-0.43, PrW 0.39-0.41, WL 0.87-0.93, HFL 0.42-0.44, PeNL 0.15-0.17, PeH 0.33-0.35, PeNW 0.25-0.27, PeS, 0.24-0.26, CI 78-82, SI 76-81, PeNI 62-67, LPeI 46-50, DPeI 159-170 (3 measured).

Characters as in worker, with modifications expected for caste and the following differences: colour blackish, considerably darker than her workers; punctulae more pronounced and antenna more slender than in workers. Eyes with short setae projecting between the ommatidia.


Bolton and Fisher (2011) - The ergatoid male resembles that of punctatissima as it has a very worker-like head and mandibles, but it has 13 antennal segments as opposed to 12 in punctatissima.

Type Material

Bolton and Fisher (2011):

Syntype worker, ITALY: Sicily (E. Ragusa) (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa) [examined].

Ponera gleadowi Syntype workers and worker-queen intercastes, INDIA: Poona, XVII/1 and XI/3 (R.C. Wroughton) (Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève]) and INDIA: 91–76 (R.C. Wroughton) (The Natural History Museum) [examined].

Ponera gleadowii r. decipiens Holotype worker, HAWAIIAN IS: Kauai I., on coast (R.C.L. Perkins) (MHNG) [not seen].

Ponera gleadowi subsp. aethiopica Syntype alate queen, ETHIOPIA: Tchafianani, 1905 (M de Rothschild) (MHNG) [examined]. Syntype workers, worker-queen intercastes, queens and ergatoid male, TUNISIA: Kairouan, 2.x.1906 (F. Santschi); syntype worker, ALGERIA: Biskra (Noualhier); syntype worker, ISRAEL: Haifa (“Syrien, Kaifa,” on data label) (Reitter) (MSNG, Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel, BMNH) [[[NHMB]] and BMNH examined].

Ponera japonica r. formosae Syntype workers, TAIWAN: Anping (H. Sauter) (MHNG) [not seen].

Ponera lesnei Holotype worker, FRANCE: Dept. de la Seine, Bécon-sur-Bruyères (Lesne) -(Musee National d'Histoire Naturelle) [examined].

Ponera parva Holotype worker, FRANCE: Marseille (A. Grouvelle) (not in MNHN, presumed lost).

Ponera oblongiceps Syntype workers, queens and ergatoid males, U.S.A.: Maryland, Priest Bridge (A.B. Gurney) (National Museum of Natural History) [not seen].


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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