Ponera testacea

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Ponera testacea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Ponera
Species: P. testacea
Binomial name
Ponera testacea
Emery, 1895

Ponera testacea P casent0906705.jpg

Ponera testacea D casent0906705.jpg

Specimen Label


Ponera testacea is, in Germany, typically found in open and very xerothermous grasslands on limestone, silicate rock, or sand. It has so far not been found in xerothermous woodland with higher humidity and seems to be rare in urban habitats. In Hungary, testacea is often collected in warm and dry habitats like sandy grasslands and dry rocky calcareous grasslands. In Greece it is a rare species, recorded from Macedonia, Peloponnese, Thessaly, Thrace and in islands only from Aegean Islands and Ionian Islands. It is more thermophilous than Ponera coarctata and prefers luminous mediterranean oak forests. In Aetolia-Acarnania, it was collected in luminous oak and chestnut forest. Nests were located under stones (Borowiec & Salata, 2021).


Very similar to Ponera coarctata, these two species can be difficult to separate from one another. Csosz and Seifert (2003) - In the workers, Ponera testacea differs from coarctata by a number of metric characters. These are smaller absolute size, lower distance of small foveolae on dorsum of first gaster tergite, a lower height vs length ratio of petiole node, a lower average pigmentation score, a lower height vs. length ratio of petiole, and a wider frons ratio (FR/CS). These differences are repeated in the gynes.

Keys including this Species


Emery (1895, 1909) roughly stated the occurrence of testacea in the Mediterranean region (S France, entire Italy, Corsica, and Spain). Our examinations revealed that it is widely distributed in C Europe and spreads north to 51°30’N at least (Eisleben, Germany). (Csosz and Seifert 2003)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 51.13333333° to 35.27722222°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Austria, Azerbaijan, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France (type locality), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Montenegro, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


As result of the species splitting and the most difficult discrimination of coarctata and testacea, a post hoc interpretation of literature data is almost impossible and the natural history of both species must be written anew. However, the most detailed studies on the biology of Central European Ponera (Liebig et al. 1995, 1997) can be exclusively referred to Ponera coarctata as our recent investigation of Liebig’s voucher specimens showed. (Csosz and Seifert 2003)



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

  • testacea. Ponera coarctata var. testacea Emery, 1895b: 62 (w.q.) FRANCE. Junior synonym of coarctata: Taylor, 1967a: 21. Revived from synonymy and raised to species: Csösz, 2003: 158; Csösz & Seifert, 2003: 207. Senior synonym of crassisquama: Scupola, 2006: 162.
  • crassisquama. Ponera coarctata var. crassisquama Emery, 1916a: 54, fig. 1 (w.q.) ITALY. [Also described as new by Emery, 1916b: 108.] Junior synonym of coarctata: Taylor, 1967a: 21; of testacea: Scupola, 2006: 162.

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



Csosz and Seifert 2003 figs. 4-11

Csosz and Seifert (2003) - Average body length 2.5–3.0 mm. Colour light ochraceous yellow to brownish yellow. Whole body covered with thick decumbent hairs. Mandibles triangular, with 3 apical teeth at the tip of the masticatory border, followed by a regular series of 9–14 minute denticles. Clypeus produced anteriorly, with a rather distinctly raised longitudinal carina. Eyes very small, or invisible, with 0-3 minute facetes. Scape with subdecumbent and suberect hairs. Tibiae frequently with short, decumbent hairs only. Alitrunk relatively lower than in coarctata. Furrow between the mesonotum and anepisternum often missing, or hardly visible. Petiole low and stubby in profile with the anterior and posterior surface running almost parallele. Dorsal surface of petiole large and flat viewed from above, forming more approaching to a half circle than in coarctata. The subpetiolar tooth-like process of petiole forms a well-visible caudoventral triangular projection. Subpetiolar fenestra slightly larger than in coarctata. First gaster tergite with very dense hairs. Average distance of the fine cuticular foveolae on first gaster tergite 16.4 (14.7–18.7) μm.


Csosz and Seifert (2003) - Similar to the worker. Average body length 3.0 mm. Colour light ochraceous yellow to brownish yellow. Whole body with thick decumbent hairs. The frontal furrow clearly reaches the anteriormost ocellus. Scape with subdecumbent and suberect hairs. Tibiae with exuberant short, decumbent hairs only. Alitrunk relatively lower than in coarctata. Metanotal furrow between the katepisternum and anepisternum not so deep, hardly visible, or sometimes missing. Petiole low and stubby in profile, the anterior and posterior surface running almost parallel in profile. The subpetiolar tooth-like process of petiole often forms a well-visible triangular caudoventral projection. First gaster tergite with very dense hairs, similar to the worker.

Morphometric measurements of 9 gynes (Seifert): CS 671±12 [650,690], FoDG 16.36±1.03 [14.9,17.8], PEL/NOH 1.238±0.063 [1.130,1.342], PiMe 8.26±1.10 [7.3,10.0], CL/CW 1.234±0.023 [1.190,1.255], SL/CS 0.811±0.011 [0.797,0.828], ML/CS 1.663±0.023 [1.635,1.703], MW/CS 0.761±0.025 [0.735,0.811], PEW/CS 0.532±0.020 [0.513,0.571], PEL/CS 0.441±0.014 [0.411, 0.457], NOH/CS 0.357±0.017 [0.330,0.392].

Morphometric measurements of 16 gynes (Csosz): CL 725±14 [710,750], CW 588±13 [570,610], CS 656±13 [640,680], FR 76±5 [68,80], FL 160±7 [150,168], SL 530±12 [515,550], ML 1066±25 [1040,1110], MH 499±25 [480,550], PEH 442±15 [420,460], PH 240±11 [225,260], PL 240±10 [230,260], PEW 0.525±0.017 [0.50,0.566], CL/CW 1,233±0.0154 [1.210,1.256], FL/FR 2.113±0.928 [1.938,2.206], PH/PL 1.004±0.515 [0.923,1.061], ML/MH 1.972±0.051 [1.902,2.018], CL/SL 1.368±0.332 [1.324,1.413].


Csosz and Seifert (2003) - Average body length smaller than 3.00 mm. Colour always black. Whole body with thick decumbent hairs. Head with sparse shorter hairs. Eyes with long hairs among the facetes. Alitrunk less robust in profile view than in coarctata.

Type Material

Csosz and Seifert (2003): Lectotype (worker) by present designation: Bonifacio, leg. Revel 1872, deposited in the “Emery collection”, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa. Its measurements: CL 655; CW 495; FR 65; FL 140; SL 460; ML 840; PEH 360; PEW 300. Para-lectotypes (3 workers) deposited in“Forel collection”, Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle (Genéve, Switzerland). One specimen Rapallo / Liguria / Mai 1891 / Flach and two other specimens (at one pin) labelled by EMERY “Gallia merid.” and with a blue label “Cotypus”.

Designation of the lectotype – Emery’s original material of Ponera was found to contain no specimens with any type labelling as it had been stated by Taylor. Altogether 15 specimens were received from the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genova and one specimen was fixed by present designation as lectotype of Ponera coarctata var. testacea Emery, 1895. The lectotype had been collected in Bonifacio by Revel in1876. Bonifacio is a small village at the S coast of Corsica. The specimen is in agreement with the type localities and descriptory statements given by Emery who stated “…Francia meridionale, la Liguria, Corsica, e la Spagna… colore testaceo uniforme, o talvolta piu o meno bruno sul dorso…”. Other specimens that could belong to the original material of Emery were not available from the Museo Civico. Emery repeatedly sent ant material to Forel and three specimens within the Forel collection in Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Genéve are considered by us as belonging to the original series. One specimen, collected by Flach at Rapallo (Liguria) inMay 1891, and two other specimens (at one pin) labelled by Emery “Gallia merid.” and with a blue label “Cotypus” made by Forel were designated as paralectotypes during the course of this study.


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