Neoponera moesta

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Neoponera moesta
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Neoponera
Species: N. moesta
Binomial name
Neoponera moesta
Mayr, 1870

Pachycondyla moesta casent0902519 p 1 high.jpg

Pachycondyla moesta casent0902519 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): Two nests were found in dead twigs hanging from the canopy (2 cm diameter). Winged sexuals and brood were collected in a nest in July. A dealate female was collected in a twig in Nicaragua (July). Wheeler and Bequaert (1929) reported that this species was collected from the foliar domatia of Tococa sp. (near formicaria).


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The workers of N. moesta are most similar to those of Neoponera crenata, but differ in the shape of the petiole, in which the apex is distinctly lower anteriorly than posteriorly and the pronotal carina is less well developed as is the malar carina. The unusual shape of the petiole would separate it from all of the others in Pachycondyla.

Wheeler and Wheeler (1974) provide characteristics to separate the larva of N. moesta from that of N. crenata.

The male of N. moesta is noticeably larger than the male of N. crenata (total length about 5 mm). The clypeus of the male of N. moesta is more swollen and slightly overhangs the anterior edge of the clypeus. The surface forms a small rounded lobe in N. crenata. The apex of the petiole of N. moesta is slightly angulate, but is broadly rounded in N. crenata. The third discoidal cell of the wing of N. moesta is more elongated (longest diagonal length of cell 0.63 mm) and wider anteriorly, as compared to N. crenata (length 0.41 mm). The workers of the two species are very similar and difficult to distinguish, but the multiple differences in the males leave little doubt that they are different species. The specimens from Nicaragua are nearly identical to the types, differing in that the medial process on the clypeus is more lobe-like, the pronotal carina is less developed and the appressed pubescence on the dorsum of the gaster is finer. Apparently species JTL-013 (Longino, website) is N. moesta (single specimen was not seen).

The identity of this species has been confused in the past and it has thus been described several times under several names, which accounts for the numerous synonymies.


Central and South America. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Brazil, Colombia (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


This species was found in tropical wet, cloud forest, at 1285 meters elevation. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


DaRocha et al. (2015) studied the diversity of ants found in bromeliads of a single large tree of Erythrina, a common cocoa shade tree, at an agricultural research center in Ilhéus, Brazil. Forty-seven species of ants were found in 36 of 52 the bromeliads examined. Bromeliads with suspended soil and those that were larger had higher ant diversity. Neoponera moesta was found in 5 different bromeliads but was associated with the twigs and bark cavities, rather than suspended soil or litter, of the plant.




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

  • moesta. Pachycondyla moesta Mayr, 1870a: 395 (w.) COLOMBIA (“New Granada”).
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: Colombia (“New Granada”): (no further data).
    • Type-depository: NHMW.
    • Forel, 1909a: 252 (q.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1971b: 1205 (l.).
    • Combination in Neoponera: Emery, 1901a: 47; Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, 2014: 151.
    • Subspecies of pallipes: Emery, 1890b: 42; Dalla Torre, 1893: 34; Emery, 1894k: 48; Forel, 1895b: 115; Forel, 1899c: 13; Forel, 1901f: 349; Forel, 1908c: 345; Forel, 1909a: 252.
    • Subspecies of crenata: Forel, 1899c: 13; Emery, 1911d: 73; Forel, 1912c: 37; Mann, 1916: 413; Luederwaldt, 1918: 35; Santschi, 1921g: 86; Borgmeier, 1923: 66; Wheeler, W.M. & Bequaert, 1929: 31; Santschi, 1939e: 313; Kempf, 1972a: 162.
    • Junior synonym of crenata: Mayr, 1887: 534; Brown, 1957e: 234; Bolton, 1995b: 307 (error).
    • Status as species: Kempf & Lenko, 1976: 54; Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 468 (redescription); Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012: 263; Bezděčková, et al. 2015: 124; Feitosa, 2015c: 99; Fernández & Guerrero, 2019: 534.
    • Senior synonym of confusa: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469.
    • Senior synonym of mesonotalis: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469.
    • Senior synonym of stipitum: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469.
    • Senior synonym of sulcatula: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469.
    • Material of the unavailable names lata, subcarinata referred here by Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469.
    • Distribution: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guianas, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru.
  • confusa. Neoponera crenata st. confusa Santschi, 1921g: 86 (w.) BRAZIL (Minas Gerais).
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469).
    • [Note: lectotype designation may be redundant as original description appears to relate to a single specimen (= holotype).]
    • Type-locality: Brazil: Minas Gerais (Sampaio).
    • Type-depository: NHMB.
    • Subspecies of crenata: Borgmeier, 1923: 102; Santschi, 1931e: 273; Kempf, 1972a: 161.
    • Junior synonym of crenata: Brown, 1957e: 234; Bolton, 1995b: 304.
    • Junior synonym of moesta: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469.
  • mesonotalis. Neoponera mesorotalis Santschi, 1923c: 246 (w.m.) BRAZIL (Santa Catarina).
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469), 2 paralectotype workers.
    • [Note: original syntype series consisted of 20 workers, 2 males.]
    • Type-locality: lectotype Brazil: Santa Catarina, Blumenau (Witte); paralectotypes with same data.
    • Type-depository: NHMB.
    • [Justified emendation of spelling to mesonotalis: Kempf, 1972a: 162.]
    • Combination in Pachycondyla: Brown, in Bolton, 1995b: 307.
    • Status as species: Kempf, 1972a: 162; Bolton, 1995b: 307; Mariano, et al. 2006: 278.
    • Junior synonym of moesta: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469.
  • stipitum. Neoponera stipitum Forel, 1901f: 348 (w.q.) COLOMBIA.
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 468), 7 paralectotype workers, 2 paralectotype queens.
    • Type-locality: lectotype Colombia: Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, San Antonio, >1000 m. (A. Forel) (by restriction of Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 468); paralectotypes with same data.
    • [Note: original syntypes also from Colombia: foot of Sierra Nevada, Burithaca (A. Forel).]
    • Type-depositories: MHNG (lectotype); MHNG, NHMB (paralectotypes).
    • Status as species: Forel, 1909a: 246; Emery, 1911d: 73; Mann, 1916: 413; Borgmeier, 1923: 67; Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 156; Kempf, 1972a: 162.
    • Junior synonym of crenata: Brown, 1957e: 234; Bolton, 1995b: 310.
    • Junior synonym of moesta: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 468.
  • sulcatula. Neoponera unidentata st. sulcatula Santschi, 1919f: 38, fig. 2 (w.) ARGENTINA (Córdoba).
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469).
    • Type-locality: Argentina: Córdoba, Cruz Grande (v. Steiger).
    • Type-depository: NHMB.
    • Subspecies of carinulata: Santschi, 1939e: 313; Kempf, 1972a: 161 (error).
    • Junior synonym of crenata: Brown, 1957e: 234; Bolton, 1995b: 310.
    • Junior synonym of moesta: Mackay & Mackay, 2010: 469.
    • tarsata. Neoponera tarsata Forel, 1907a: 7 (w.q.) BRAZIL. Nomen nudum (attributed to Latreille).
    • [Also in Forel, 1907e: 1, Forel, 1908c: 345. Nomina nuda.]

Type Material

Colombia; Colombia, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta: San Antonio; Argentina, Cordoba: Cruz Grande; Brasil; Brasil: Santa Catarina: Blumenau. Specimens identified by Mayr, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna and Santschi seen, Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel; lectotype worker, 5 paralectotype workers, 2 paralectotype females here designated, Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève, 2 paralectotype workers here designated, Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel; lectotype here designated, Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel; lectotype here designated, Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel; lectotype and 2 paralectotypes here designated, NHNG. (Mackay and Mackay 2010) Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The worker is a relatively small (total length 6.5 mm) reddish brown specimen. The head length is 1.5 mm; the head width is 1.3 mm. The scape (length 1.25 mm) extends approximately the first funicular segment past the posterior lateral corner. The mandible has 11 teeth, the anterior border of the clypeus is weakly angulate. The malar carina is poorly developed, but extends the entire length to the anterior edge of the eye. The eye is relatively large (maximum diameter 0.35 mm) the diameter is nearly twice the length of the distance from the eye to the anterior border of the head (side view). The pronotal shoulder is swollen, but barely forms a carina. The metanotal suture is barely obvious on the dorsum of the mesosoma. The propodeal spiracle is elongated and the posterior lateral edges of the propodeum are rounded. The petiole is shaped like a loaf of bread with a broad convex horizontal dorsal face, which is longer than the anterior or posterior faces. The subpetiolar process is formed into a broadly rounded lobe with a small anterior angle.

Erect hairs are moderately abundant on most surfaces, including the mandibles, clypeus, dorsum of the head, ventral surface of the head, scapes, mesosoma, petiole and all surfaces of the gaster, the hairs on the legs are erect or suberect.

The mandibles are finely striate and weakly shining, the dorsum of the head is covered with fine punctures, with the surfaces between the punctures shining, the sculpture on the dorsum of the mesosoma is similar, that on the side of the mesosoma is coriaceous with poorly defined striae on the mesopleuron and side of the propodeum, with the surfaces weakly shining. The petiole is finely punctate and weakly shining; the gaster is finely punctate and moderately shining.

The head and mesosoma are reddish brown, the petiole and gaster are dark reddish brown, the appendages are pale brown to nearly yellow.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The female is slightly larger than the worker (total length 7 mm) and similar to the worker, except that three small ocelli are present and the petiole is more cuboidal-shaped, with the length being approximately equal to the length of the anterior and posterior faces (as seen from the side). The mesosoma is adapted for flight and is equipped with well-developed wings.

Erect and suberect hairs are abundant on the mandibles, clypeus, dorsal and ventral surfaces of the head, shaft of the scape; a few are on the side of the head and along the posterior margin; erect hairs are present on the mesosoma, petiole and gaster. The legs (including the tibiae) have mostly suberect hairs. Appressed fine golden pubescence is present on nearly all surfaces and is especially obvious on the head, dorsum of the mesosoma and all surfaces of the gaster.

The mandibles are finely striate with scattered punctures and are weakly shining; the remainder of the surfaces are punctate and moderately shining, especially the dorsum of the pronotum, mesopleuron and dorsum of the gaster.


From Mackay and Mackay (2010): The male is a small (total length 6 mm, head length 0.95 mm, head width 0.5 mm, scape length 0.2 mm) dark reddish brown specimen with slightly lighter colored appendages. The mandibles are tiny, edentate and do not meet when closed. The clypeus is swollen medially and the eyes occupy more than ½ of the side of the head. The ocelli are much larger than those of the female (0.12 mm in diameter). The petiole is broadly rounded dorsally and does not form a well-developed horizontal dorsal face. The gaster is constricted between the posterior edge of the postpetiole and the remainder of the gaster.

Erect hairs are abundant on the mouthparts, clypeus, posterior border of the head, few are present on the scapes and sides of the head; erect hairs are abundant on the dorsum of the mesosoma, petiole and all surfaces of the gaster, the legs (including the tibiae) have many erect and suberect hairs. Appressed golden pubescence is present on most surfaces and especially conspicuous on the dorsum and side of the mesosoma, posterior face of the petiole and all surfaces of the gaster.

Most surfaces are finely punctate and at least moderately smooth and glossy.


  • n = 13, 2n = 26, karyotype = 26A (Brazil) (Mariano et al., 2006a; Mariano et al., 2007) (as Pachycondyla mesonotalis).


Apparently derived from the Latin word maestus, a feminine normative form of the word, meaning sad or sorrowful. (Mackay and Mackay 2010)


  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1957e. Biological investigations in the Selva Lacandona, Chiapas. 4. Ants from Laguna Ocotal (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 116: 228-237 (page 234, Junior synonym of crenata)
  • DaRocha, W. D., S. P. Ribeiro, F. S. Neves, G. W. Fernandes, M. Leponce, and J. H. C. Delabie. 2015. How does bromeliad distribution structure the arboreal ant assemblage (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on a single tree in a Brazilian Atlantic forest agroecosystem? Myrmecological News. 21:83-92.
  • Emery, C. 1890c. Studii sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 22: 38-80 (page 42, Variety/race of pallipes)
  • Emery, C. 1901b. Notes sur les sous-familles des Dorylines et Ponérines (Famille des Formicides). Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 45: 32-54 (page 47, Combination in Neoponera)
  • Forel, A. 1899b. Formicidae. [part]. Biol. Cent.-Am. Hym. 3: 1-24 (page 13, Variety/race of crenata)
  • Forel, A. 1909a. Ameisen aus Guatemala usw., Paraguay und Argentinien (Hym.). Dtsch. Entomol. Z. 1909: 239-269 (page 252, queen described)
  • Forel, A. 1912d. Formicides néotropiques. Part I. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 56: 28-49 (page 37, Variety/race of crenata)
  • Mackay, W. P., and E. E. Mackay 2010. The Systematics and Biology of the New World Ants of the Genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellon Press, Lewiston. Information from this publication is used with permission from the authors.
  • Mayr, G. 1870a. Formicidae novogranadenses. Sitzungsber. Kais. Akad. Wiss. Wien Math.-Naturwiss. Cl. Abt. I 61: 370-417 (page 395, worker described)
  • Mayr, G. 1887. Südamerikanische Formiciden. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 37: 511-632 (page 534, Junior synonym of crenata)
  • Santschi, F. 1921g. Ponerinae, Dorylinae et quelques autres formicides néotropiques. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 54: 81-103 (page 86, Variety/race of crenata)
  • Wheeler, G. C. and Wheeler, J. 1974. Ant larvae of the subfamily Ponerinae: third supplement (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 76:278-281.
  • Wheeler, W. and J. Bequaert. 1929. Amazonian myrmecophytes and their ants. Zoologischer Anzeiger 82:10-39.
  • Schmidt, C.A. & Shattuck, S.O. 2014. The higher classification of the ant subfamily Ponerinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with a review of ponerine ecology and behavior. Zootaxa 3817, 1–242 (doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3817.1.1).

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Bezdeckova K., P. Bedecka, and I. Machar. 2015. A checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Peru. Zootaxa 4020 (1): 101–133.
  • Borgmeier T. 1923. Catalogo systematico e synonymico das formigas do Brasil. 1 parte. Subfam. Dorylinae, Cerapachyinae, Ponerinae, Dolichoderinae. Archivos do Museu Nacional (Rio de Janeiro) 24: 33-103.
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Forel A. 1908. Ameisen aus Sao Paulo (Brasilien), Paraguay etc. gesammelt von Prof. Herm. v. Ihering, Dr. Lutz, Dr. Fiebrig, etc. Verhandlungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Zoologisch-Botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 58: 340-418.
  • Forel A. 1909. Ameisen aus Guatemala usw., Paraguay und Argentinien (Hym.). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 1909: 239-269.
  • Franco W., N. Ladino, J. H. C. Delabie, A. Dejean, J. Orivel, M. Fichaux, S. Groc, M. Leponce, and R. M. Feitosa. 2019. First checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of French Guiana. Zootaxa 4674(5): 509-543.
  • Kempf W. W., and K. Lenko. 1976. Levantamento da formicifauna no litoral norte e ilhas adjacentes do Estado de São Paulo, Brasil. I. Subfamilias Dorylinae, Ponerinae e Pseudomyrmecinae (Hym., Formicidae). Studia Entomologica 19: 45-66.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Luederwaldt H. 1918. Notas myrmecologicas. Rev. Mus. Paul. 10: 29-64.
  • Mackay, W.P. and E.E. MacKay. 2010. The systematics and biology of the New World ants of the genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press Lewiston, NY
  • Rosa da Silva R. 1999. Formigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) do oeste de Santa Catarina: historico das coletas e lista atualizada das especies do Estado de Santa Catarina. Biotemas 12(2): 75-100.
  • Santschi F. 1919. Nouveaux formicides de la République Argentine. Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina. 87: 37-57.
  • Santschi F. 1921. Ponerinae, Dorylinae et quelques autres formicides néotropiques. Bulletin de la Société Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles 54: 81-103.
  • Santschi F. 1923. Solenopsis et autres fourmis néotropicales. Revue Suisse de Zoologie 30: 245-273.
  • Scott-Santos, C.P., F.A. Esteves, C.R.F. Brandao. 2008. Catalogue of "Poneromorph" ant type specimens (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) deposited in the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Papeis Avulsos de Zoologia 48(11):75-88.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1942. Studies of Neotropical ant-plants and their ants. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 90: 1-262.
  • dos Santos Bastos A. H. , and A. Y. Harada. 2011. Leaf-litter amount as a factor in the structure of a ponerine ants community (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Ponerinae) in an eastern Amazonian rainforest, Brazil