Tetramorium setuliferum

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Tetramorium setuliferum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Tetramorium
Species group: solidum
Species: T. setuliferum
Binomial name
Tetramorium setuliferum
Emery, 1895



Specimen Label


This species has populous colonies that nest in open areas. There is often a mound of refuse surrounding a single nest entrance. (Mbanyana et al. 2018)


Mbanyana et al. (2018) - Tetramorium setuliferum is morphologically similar to Tetramorium clunum. The two species are separated by the characters listed under T. clunum.

Keys including this Species


This is a widespread and common species in savanna and grassland regions of southern Africa.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 25.45° to -33.3°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa (type locality), Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Known from forest clearings, weedy areas, savanna on white clay soil, dry forest savanna, Thornveld savanna, Kimberley Thornveld, Miombo woodland, riverine-grassveld, old tobacco fields, sandy soil areas dominated by shrubs, and citrus orchards. The ecoregions where it is known include: Angolan Mopane Woodlands, Drakensberg Montane Grasslands, Highveld Grasslands, Kalahari Xeric Savanna, Kalahari Acacia–Baikiaea Woodlands, Maputaland-Pondoland Bushland and Thickets, Nama Karoo, Namibian Savanna Woodlands, Southern Africa Bushveld, Southern Africa Mangroves, Southern Miombo Woodlands, Succulent Karoo, Zambezian and Mopane Woodlands, Zambezian Flooded Grasslands.


A general scavenger including seeds as well as insect prey in their diet. The species normally nests in sandy to loamy soils, with nest entrances found in open areas, away from the basal parts of plants or at the base of a grass tuft. There can be more than one nest entrance per colony. Circles of grass seed husks, piles of small stones or scattered soil particles have been found around nest entrances. Seeds are regularly found in nests. Reproductive forms have been collected from nests between October and February. Collected using pitfall traps, tuna baits, and sugar baits.



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

  • setuliferum. Tetramorium setuliferum Emery, 1895h: 36 (w.) SOUTH AFRICA. Forel, 1910f: 19 (q.); Arnold, 1917: 290 (m.). Material of the nomen nudum squamiferum referred here by Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 903. Senior synonym of cucalense (and its junior syonym triptolemus): Bolton, 1980: 250.
  • cucalense. Tetramorium setuliferum var. cucalense Santschi, 1911c: 356 (w.) ANGOLA. Santschi, 1930b: 71 (q.). Senior synonym of triptolemus: Santschi, 1930b: 71. Junior synonym of setuliferum: Bolton, 1980: 250.
  • triptolemus. Tetramorium setuliferum var. triptolemus Arnold, 1917: 292 (w.) ZAMBIA. Junior synonym of cucalense: Santschi, 1930b: 71.

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



Bolton (1980) - TL 4.4-6.0, HL 1.12-1.50, HW 1.12-1.48, CI 97-100, SL 0.76-1.00, SI 67-73, PW 0.74-0.96, AL 1.16-1.48 (30 measured).

Mandibles coarsely longitudinally rugose. Median portion of clypeus with the anterior margin concave, extensively but shallowly excavated. Frontal carinae absent, the frontal lobes rapidly fading out posteriorly, ending in front of the level of the anterior margins of the eyes. Antennal scrobes absent. Eyes moderate, maximum diameter 0-24-0-31, about 0:20-0:24 x HW. Outline of dorsal alitrunk unbroken in profile, the metanotal groove not impressed. Propodeal spines broad basally, rapidly tapering to acute apices. Metapleural lobes rounded, their outline shape variable. Petiole in profile strongly nodiform, often with the anterodorsal corner sharp or projecting as a low tubercle, this last feature more common in larger than in smaller individuals. In dorsal view petiole node broader than long, slightly variable in shape but always thomboidal, much broader behind than in front. Postpetiole in dorsal view distinctly much broader than long, much broader than petiole, very nearly as broad as the base of the first gastral tergite. The width of the postpetiole is achieved by the presence of quite wide lateral alar extensions so that in front view or profile the tergum of the node is much wider than the sternum and strongly overhangs it. Laterobasal angle of first gastral tergite extended and downcurved so that in profile it forms a flap overhanging the base of the sternite and rendering the tergo-sternal suture invisible basally. Dorsum of head very finely and very densely longitudinally costulate or striolate, the narrow interspaces punctate. In small specimens the longitudinal component of the sculpture may be faint or exceedingly fine so that the punctate component predominates. Dorsal alitrunk uniformly reticulate-punctate but commonly also with some fine longitudinal costulae or narrow rugulae. Dorsal surfaces of petiole and postpetiole evenly reticulatepunctate, only very rarely with traces of costulae or faint rugulae. Basal one-third to one-half of first gastral tergite very finely and densely longitudinally striolate or costulate, the narrow spaces punctulate. Again in small individuals the punctulate component may predominate. All dorsal surfaces of head and body with scattered but quite numerous appressed glittering silvery hairs, many of which appear to be sunk into small impressions in the cuticle. On the dorsum erect long hairs are present only on the clypeus and the gastral segments behind the first. Ammochaete hairs present on ventral surface of head. Colour uniform dull red, varying in shade from series to series.

Mbanyana et al. (2018) - (N = 13) HL 0.964–1.210 (1.114); HW 0.969–1.259 (1.151); SL 0.698–0.846 (0.803); EL 0.220–0.275 (0.254); PH 0.433–0.561 (0.486); PW 0.610–0.799 (0.724); WL 0.983–1.210 (1.118); PSL 0.197–0.285 (0.289); PTH 0.266–0.403 (0.362); PTL 0.293–0.388 (0.337); PTW 0.329–0.433 (0.391); PPH 0.329–0.408 (0.364); PPL 0.197–0.310 (0.279); PPW 0.401–0.600 (0.540); OI 20–24 (22); CI 100–106 (103); SI 66–74 (70); DMI 62–70 (65); LMI 41–50 (44); PSLI 21–31 (26); PeNI 51–57 (54); LPeI 79–108 (93); DPeI 103–147 (117); PpNI 66–79 (75); LPpI 74–87 (77); DPpI 167–212 (194); PPI 122–143 (138).

Type Material

Bolton (1980) - Syntype workers. South Africa: Vrijburg (E. Simon) Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève, Musee Royal de I' Afrique Centrale. [examined].

Tetramorium setuliferum var. cucalense syntype workers, Angola: Benguela, Cucala pres Caconda, (J. Cruchet). Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel, Musee Royal de I' Afrique Centrale. [examined].

Tetramorium setuliferum var. triptolemus Syntype workers, Zambia ('N. Rhod. on data label): Lusakas, x.1913 (G. Arnold), The Natural History Museum [examined].

Mbanyana et al. (2018):

South Africa: syntypes of Tetramorium setuliferum Emery, 1895: 2 pinned workers, Orange Free State, Bethlehem, Weitzecker leg. (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa: CASENT0904839).

Angola: syntypes of Tetramorium setuliferum var. cucalense Santschi, 1910: 1 pinned worker, Cucala, Benguela, J. Cruchet leg. (RMCAENT000017786); 1 pinned worker, Cucala near Caconda, Benguela, 31 Dec. 1910, Santschi leg. (Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel: CASENT0915077; Musee National d'Histoire Naturelle: CASENT0915425).

Zambia: syntype of Tetramorium setuliferum var. triptolemus Arnold, 1917: 1 pinned worker, “N. Rhod.” according to label, Lusakas, Oct. 1913, G. Arnold leg. (The Natural History Museum: CASENT0901177).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Arnold G. 1917. A monograph of the Formicidae of South Africa. Part III. Myrmicinae. Annals of the South African Museum. 14: 271-402.
  • Bolton B. 1980. The ant tribe Tetramoriini (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). The genus Tetramorium Mayr in the Ethiopian zoogeographical region. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Entomology 40: 193-384.
  • Campbell H., M. D. E. Fellowes, and J. M. Cook. . Species diversity and dominance-richness relationships for ground and arboreal ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) assemblages in Namibian desert, saltpan, and savannah. Myrmecological News 21: 37-47.
  • Emery C. 1895. Voyage de M. E. Simon dans l'Afrique australe (janvier-avril 1893). 3e mémoire. Formicides. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 64: 15-56.
  • Forel A. 1910. Zoologische und anthropologische Ergebnisse einer Forschungsreise im westlichen und zentralen Südafrika ausgeführt in den Jahren 1903-1905 von Dr. Leonhard Schultze. Vierter Band. Systematik und Tiergeographie. D) Formicidae. Denkschriften der Medizinisch-Naturwissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft zu Jena 16: 1-30.
  • IZIKO South Africa Museum Collection
  • Koch F., and K. Vohland. 2004. Ants along a southern African transect - a basis for biodiversity change monitoring (Insecta, Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Zoosystematics and Evolution 80(2): 261-273.
  • Mbanyana N. 2013. Taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of seed-harvesting ants in the Tetramorium solidum-group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Masters of Science in the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University 115 pages.
  • Mbanyana N., F. Hita Garcia, H. G. Robertson, and J. J. Le Roux. 2018. A taxonomic revision of seed harvester ants of the Tetramorium solidum group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in southern Africa. European Journal of Taxonomy 454: 1-59.
  • Munyai T. C., and S. H. Foord. 2011. Ants on a mountain: spatial, environmental and habitat associations along an altitudinal transect in a centre of endemism. Journal of Insect Conservation 16(5): 677-695.
  • Prins A. J. 1963. A list of the ants collected in the Kruger National Park with notes on their distribution. Koedoe 6: 91-108.
  • Prins A. J. 1964. Revised list of the ants collected in the Kruger National Park. Koedoe 7: 77-93.
  • Prins A. J., and J. J. Cillie. 1968. The ants collected in the Hluhluwe and Umfolozi game reserves. The Lammergeyer 8: 40-47.
  • Samways M. J. 1990. Species temporal variability: epigaeic ant assemblages and management for abundance and scarcity. Oecologia 84: 482-490.
  • Santschi F. 1937. Résultats de la Mission scientifique suisse en Angola (2me voyage) 1932-1933. Fourmis angolaises. Revue Suisse de Zoologie. 44: 211-250.
  • Santschi, F. "Résultats de la Mission scientifique suisse en Angola, 1928-1929. Formicides de l'Angola." Revue Suisse de Zoologie 37 (1930): 53-81.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1922. 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. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 45: 711-1004