Plectroctena subterranea

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This slow moving and bright red species can be found searching within leaf litter.

Plectroctena subterranea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Plectroctena
Species: P. subterranea
Binomial name
Plectroctena subterranea
Arnold, 1915

MCZ ENT Plectroctena subterranea hal.jpg

MCZ ENT Plectroctena subterranea had.jpg

Specimen Label


Photo Gallery

  • Plectroctena subterranea gyne from Wundanyi, Taita Hills, Kenya. Photo by Gino Brignoli.


This distinctively punctate bright red species is easy to distinguish within the genus.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Forages slowly in leaf litter, colony size is moderate to small.



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

  • subterranea. Plectroctena subterranea Arnold, 1915: 84, pl. 3, fig. 23 (w.q.) ZIMBABWE. Combination in Myopias: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 785; in Plectroctena: Santschi, 1924a: 171. Senior synonym of punctatus: Bolton, 1974c: 333.
  • punctatus. Plectroctena punctatus Santschi, 1924a: 170 (m.) KENYA. Junior synonym of subterranea: Bolton, 1974c: 333.



  • Arnold, G. 1915. A monograph of the Formicidae of South Africa. Part I. Ponerinae, Dorylinae. Ann. S. Afr. Mus. 14: 1-159 (page 84, pl. 3, fig. 23 worker, queen described)
  • Bolton, B. 1974c. A revision of the ponerine ant genus Plectroctena F. Smith (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bull. Br. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) Entomol. 30: 309-338 (page 333, Senior synonym of punctatus)
  • Santschi, F. 1924a. Revue du genre Plectroctena F. Smith. Rev. Suisse Zool. 31: 155-173 (page 171, Combination in Plectroctena)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922j. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VIII. A synonymic list of the ants of the Ethiopian region. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 711-1004 (page 785, Combination in Myopias)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Bolton B. 1974. A revision of the ponerine ant genus Plectroctena F. Smith (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bull. Br. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) Entomol. 30: 309-338.
  • Bolton B., and W. L. Brown Jr. 2002. Loboponera gen. n. and a review of the Afrotropical Plectroctena genus group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bulletin of the Natural History Museum. Entomology Series 71: 1-18.
  • Garcia F.H., Wiesel E. and Fischer G. 2013.The Ants of Kenya (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)—Faunal Overview, First Species Checklist, Bibliography, Accounts for All Genera, and Discussion on Taxonomy and Zoogeography. Journal of East African Natural History, 101(2): 127-222
  • IZIKO South Africa Museum Collection
  • 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.
  • Robertson H. G. 2000. Formicidae (Hymenoptera: Vespoidea). Cimbebasia Memoir 9: 371-382.
  • Ross S. R. P. J., F. Hita Garcia, G. Fischer, and M. K. Peters. 2018. Selective logging intensity in an East African rain forest predicts reductions in ant diversity. Biotropica 1-11.
  • Santschi F. 1924. Revue du genre Plectroctena F. Smith. Revue Suisse de Zoologie 31: 155-173.