Neoponera insignis

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Neoponera insignis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Neoponera
Species: N. insignis
Binomial name
Neoponera insignis
(Mackay, W.P. & Mackay, E.E., 2010)

Pachycondyla insignis casent0007074 p 1 high.jpg

Pachycondyla insignis casent0007074 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

A common species that make their nests in in Cecropia saplings.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The workers and females of N. insignis are essentially identical to those of Neoponera bugabensis, differing in having transverse striae in the middle of the clypeus. These striae are usually absent in N. bugabensis, or poorly defined longitudinal striae may be present. Neoponera insignis is smaller than Neoponera villosa, which also lacks the transverse striae on the clypeus, or longitudinal striae are present.

Keys including this Species


COSTA RICA (Mackay and Mackay 2010)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 11.01251° to 10.3°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Costa Rica (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


These ants occur in wet forest, at 700 - 800 meters. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


Based on Longino (1997):

Relatively common in Cecropia saplings in the mature forest gaps. An apparent obligate ant on Cecropia, as it has never been collected away from Cecropia. Founding queens have been collected in Cecropia internodes and all nests observed have been inside Cecropia stems. Workers harvest Müllerian bodies, which have been found in caches inside the nests. Workers and queens use the prostomata rather than some other parts of the stem wall to gain entrance to the internodes. Cecropia occupied by P. insignis are fairly easy to find in the field, because the entrance hole is very large and circular, much larger than entrance holes made by Azteca ants. Other non-specialized species of Neoponera may be found nesting opportunistically in Cecropia stems, such as Neoponera crenata and Neoponera striatinodis, but their entrance holes are often more irregularly shaped and the ants often enter through a wound in the plant rather than through the prostoma.

Colonies are small and the workers are timid and run inside or flee when the plant is disturbed. Presumably the colonies are short-lived, as larger colonies have never been found in a mature Cecropia tree. The interaction of N. insignis with Cecropia apparently represents an independent evolutionary colonization. This ant appears closely related to Neoponera villosa and Neoponera bugabensis, species that are generalized foragers and opportunistic cavity nesters. The transverse rugae on the clypeus may function in the excavation of the prostoma, or be involved in the gripping of the Müllerian bodies. A local endemic that could have arisen through a sympatric speciation mechanism from N. villosa, N. bugabensis, or some ancestral version of both of them.



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

  • insignis. Pachycondyla insignis Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 405, figs. 112, 269, 530-532 (w.q.) COSTA RICA.
    • Type-material: holotype worker, 1 paratype worker, 1 paratype queen.
    • Type-locality: holotype Costa Rica: Alajuela, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Esperanza, 800 m., 10°19’N, 84°43’W, 29.ix.1989, wet forest ex Cecropia insignis (B.L. Fisher); paratypes with same data.
    • Type-depositories: MCZC (holotype); MCZC, WEMC (paratypes).
    • Combination in Neoponera: Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, 2014: 151.
    • Status as species: Fernandes, et al. 2014:135 (in key).
    • Distribution: Costa Rica.

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



The worker is a moderate sized (total length 11 mm) dark reddish black specimen. The mandible has 12 teeth. The anterior border of the clypeus is broadly convex. The head length is 2.34 - 2.38 mm, the head width is 2.16 - 2.24 mm. The malar carina is well-developed, extending ⅔ of the distance to the eye. The maximum diameter of the eye is 0.59 - 0.60 mm, located slightly more than one maximum diameter from the anterior margin of the head (side view). The center of the eyes is located slightly posteriorly to the midpoint of the length of the head. The antennal scape (2.10 - 2.14 mm) extends nearly the first two funicular segments past the posterior lateral corner of the head. The carina on the pronotal shoulder is sharp and well developed and overhangs the side of pronotum. The mesosoma is depressed at the metanotal suture, which is well developed and breaks the sculpturing on the dorsum of the mesosoma.

The propodeal spiracle is slit-shaped. The anterior face of the petiole is nearly vertical and meets the broadly rounded posterior face near the anterior face. The posterior lateral edges of the petiole are developed into sharp carinae, which extend to the apex. The subpetiolar process consists of an angulate anterior lobe and a posterior process, which gradually diminishes in width. The stridulatory file on the second pretergite is well developed; the arolia are moderately well developed. Long (0.65 mm) erect hairs are present on the mandibles, the clypeus and the gaster. Shorter (0.3 mm) erect hairs are also present on the mandibles, dorsal and ventral surfaces of the head, sides of the head, posterior margin, scapes, dorsum of the mesosoma, dorsum of the petiole and all surfaces of the gaster and on the legs. Appressed whitish yellow hairs are present on the head, mesosoma, petiole and gaster.

The medial part of the clypeus has conspicuous horizontal striae. The mandibles are smooth and glossy, the head is densely punctate, the mesosoma and petiole are finely punctate, without striae on any surfaces and the gaster is finely punctate.


The female is a large (total length 18 mm) black ant. The anterior margin of the clypeus is similar to that of the worker. The head length is 2.58 mm; the head width is 2.42 mm. The sides of the head are broadly convex and the head is narrowed anteriorly, the posterior border is nearly straight. The malar carina is well developed, extending about ¾ of the distance to the eye and the eyes are large (maximum diameter 0.69 mm) located slightly more than one diameter from the anterior margin of the head (side view). The midpoint of the eye is located slightly posteriorly on the head. The scape (2.24 mm) extends about the length of the first funicular segment past the posterior lateral corner. The ocelli are relatively small (maximum diameter of the median ocellus is 0.1 mm) located approximately two diameters from the lateral ocellus. The pronotal carina is well developed sharp and overhangs the sides of the pronotum. The propodeal spiracle is slit-shaped and the posterior lateral edges of the propodeum form a carina. The petiole is similar to that of the worker. Erect hairs and appressed pubescence is similar to that of the worker.

The mandibles are finely striate with scattered punctures and dull, the medial part of the clypeus has conspicuous horizontal striae, the dorsum of the head is finely punctate, as is the dorsum of the mesosoma, the sides are coriaceous, the petiole is punctate and coriaceous, the gaster is finely punctate. All surfaces are dull or only weakly shining.


Males are not known for this species.

Type Material

COSTA RICA, Alajuela, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Esperanza. Holotype worker (# 108, Museum of Comparative Zoology), 1 paratype worker (# 86, William and Emma Mackay Collection), 1 paratype female (# 114, Museum of Comparative Zoology)


From Latin, insignis meaning remarkable, referring to the horizontal striae on the clypeus, as well as referring to the species of Cecropia from which they were collected.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics