Tetraponera nitida

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Tetraponera nitida
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Pseudomyrmecinae
Genus: Tetraponera
Species: T. nitida
Binomial name
Tetraponera nitida
(Smith, F., 1860)

Tetraponera nitida casent0172004 profile 1.jpg

Tetraponera nitida casent0172004 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


Collection records indicate this is a generalist inhabitant of dead twigs or stems of plants. I have found colonies in dead twigs of the following plants, with the habitat(s) given in parentheses: Allophylus cobbe (mangrove); Avicennia alba (mangrove); Chionanthus ramiflorus (rainforest); Clerodendrum inerme (mangrove); Colubrina asiatica (littoral vegetation); Excoecaria agallocha (mangrove); Gnetum sp. (rainforest); Hibiscus tiliaceus (littoral vegetation); Mallotus sp. (rainforest edge; roadside); Premna serratifolia (littoral vegetation); Rhizophora sp. (mangrove); Terminalia catappa (littoral vegetation); and Vitex trifolia (littoral vegetation). Other habitat records include dry, rocky Eucalyptus woodland; Eucalyptus savanna; monsoon forest; gallery rainforest; and dry sclerophyll forest. This tolerance of a broad range of habitats probably contributes to the wide distribution of T. nitida. (Ward 2001)


Ward (2001) - Tetraponera nitida is a small, black shiny species (worker HW <0.85, worker LHT <0.66), with a characteristic pair of posteroventral petiolar teeth, formed by lateral angular extensions of sternite II. Sometimes the petiolar teeth cannot be easily discerned if the postpetiole is bent downward, but two other useful distinguishing features of T. nitida are: (i) the combination of short scapes and large eyes, such that SI3 (SL/EL) is less than 1.00, and (ii) the densely punctate sculpture near the pronotal margin which contrasts with the more dispersed punctures on the upper head and elsewhere on the pronotum. Tetraponera nitida shares these traits with only three other species: Tetraponera nixa, Tetraponera nodosa and Tetraponera notabilis. The last two are larger, with more protruding clypeal margins and denser appressed pubescence on the postpetiole and gaster, while T. nixa has numerous, short standing hairs on the head.

There is substantial variation in petiole shape within, as well as between, regions. Head shape also varies from elongate to rather broad.

There is variation in the density and length of standing pilosity. In most workers the standing hairs are relatively short and sparse (MSC <8) but in some individuals the hairs are longer (up to 0.20 mm or more) and notably more common on the mesosoma, petiole, postpetiole and gaster (MSC >20).

Tetraponera nixa, from northern Australia, appears at first glance to be an equivalent “hairy morph” of T. nitida from the southern portion of its range. However, T. nixa has shorter hairs and these are abundant on the sides and upper surface of the head, a condition not seen in any T. nitida workers.

Keys including this Species


Tetraponera nitida has a very wide distribution, being found from India to southern China, and south to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and northern Australia.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia.
Indo-Australian Region: Borneo, Indonesia (type locality), Krakatau Islands, Malaysia, New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore.
Oriental Region: India, Laos, Nicobar Island, Thailand, Vietnam.
Palaearctic Region: China.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb







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

  • nitida. Pseudomyrma nitida Smith, F. 1860b: 106 (w.) INDONESIA (Batjan I.). Combination in Sima: Dalla Torre, 1893: 54; in S. (Tetraponera): Emery, 1921f: 26; in Tetraponera: Donisthorpe, 1932c: 462. Senior synonym of angusticeps, bidentata, brevicornis, carbonaria, longiceps, maffini, nebulosa, setifera, siggi, shankouensis: Ward, 2001: 636.
  • carbonaria. Pseudomyrma carbonaria Smith, F. 1863: 20 (w.q.) INDONESIA (Bouru I.). Combination in Tetraponera: Smith, F. 1877b: 69; in Sima: Dalla Torre, 1893: 54; in Sima (Tetraponera): Emery, 1921f: 25; in Tetraponera: Donisthorpe, 1932c: 471. Junior synonym of nigra: Dalla Torre, 1893: 54; Forel, 1903a: 709; Bingham, 1903: 110; revived from synonymy as subspecies of laeviceps: Emery, 1900d: 674; revived status as species: Emery, 1921f: 25; junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636. See also: Ward, 1990: 488.
  • brevicornis. Sima brevicornis Emery, 1900d: 675 (footnote) (w.) PHILIPPINES. Combination in S. (Tetraponera): Emery, 1921f: 25; in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 79. Junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636.
  • longiceps. Sima difficilis r. longiceps Forel, 1902c: 247 (w.) INDIA. Viehmeyer, 1916a: 118 (m.). Combination in S. (Tetraponera): Viehmeyer, 1916a: 118; Emery, 1921f: 26; in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 79. Raised to species: Bingham, 1903: 115. Subspecies of difficilis: Emery, 1921f: 26; Ward, 1990: 488. Junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636.
  • siggi. Sima siggi Forel, 1902c: 246 (w.) THAILAND. Forel, 1909d: 226 (q.). Combination in S. (Tetraponera): Viehmeyer, 1916a: 119; in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 82. Junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636.
  • nebulosa. Sima siggii var. nebulosa Forel, 1903d: 404 (w.) INDIA (Nicobar Is). Combination in S. (Tetraponera): Emery, 1921f: 27; in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 82. Junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636.
  • setifera. Sima (Tetraponera) siggi var. setifera Viehmeyer, 1916a: 119 (w.) SINGAPORE. Combination in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 82. Junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636.
  • angusticeps. Sima (Tetraponera) bidentata var. angusticeps Karavaiev, 1933c: 266, fig. 14 (w.) INDONESIA (Java). Combination in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 79. Junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636.
  • bidentata. Sima (Tetraponera) bidentata Karavaiev, 1933c: 264, fig. 13 (w.) INDONESIA (Java). Combination in Tetraponera: Chapman & Capco, 1951: 78. Junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636. See also: Ward, 1990: 488.
  • maffini. Tetraponera (Tetraponera) maffini Donisthorpe, 1948d: 591 (q.) NEW GUINEA. Junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636.
  • shankouensis. Tetraponera shankouensis Zhou & Jiang, 1997: 72 (w.) CHINA. Junior synonym of nitida: Ward, 2001: 636.

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



Ward (2001) - HW 0.63-0.83, HL 0.73-1.04, LHT 0.45-0.65, CI 0.78-0.90, FCI 0.10-0.13, REL 0.45-0.53, REL2 0.55-0.62, SI 0.51-0.55, SI3 0.83-0.98, FI 0.45-0.55, PLI 0.60--0.79, PWI 0.44-0.56, PDI 0.95-1.23, LHT/HW 0.69-0.79, CSC 0-4, MSC 0-22.

Small species (HW <0.85); clypeus very short, its anterior margin appearing more or less straight when head is held in full-face view, or with a very slightly protruding median lobe, whose anterior reach is about equal to (i.e. does not strongly exceed) that of the anterolateral margins; distance between frontal carinae subequal to maximum scape width; eye large, its length exceeding that of the scape; profemur short and robust (FI usually >0.48); lateral pronotal margins well developed, sharp-edged; mesopropodeal impression with a transverse, pit-shaped depression posteriorly (at junction with propodeum), whose flanking ridges decline anteriorly (sometimes precipitously), leaving an open strip of integument which is usually longitudinally rugulate/carinulate; propodeum usually higher than wide, with a flattened dorsal face that rounds into the declivitous face; petiole with prominent posteroventral teeth and with a “reversed-node” shape, i.e. with steep anterior face and more shallowly declining posterior face; petiole variable in length and height (see PLI values), but nearly always less than half the length of the head (PL/HL 0.39-0.51 ); petiole about twice as long as wide (see PWI values); postpetiole varying from slightly longer than wide to wider than long; metabasitarsal sulcus prominent, subtended by a low ridge and occupying a darkened patch of cuticle which is half or more the length of the basitarsus. Integument smooth and shiny, with scattered fine punctures; those on posterior half of head mostly ≤0.010 mm in diameter, and separated by several to many diameters, leaving conspicuous shiny interspaces; punctures contrastingly coarser (about 0.015 mm in diameter) and denser (separated by about their diameters) on anterior third of pronotum; generally of same size but lower density on remainder of pronotum, on mesonotum and on dorsal face of propodeum; lower malar area also with coarser punctures, intermixed with weak longitudinal rugulae; side of mesosoma and of petiole with extensive smooth shiny patches that are mostly devoid of sculpture. Pilosity generally inconspicuous, sparse on posterior half of head dorsum (CSC 0-6); when head is seen in full-face view, standing hairs absent from sides of head, except for one to several setae below the level of the eyes; standing pilosity usually sparse on mesosoma (MSC 0-9), petiole and postpetiole, but more abundant in some workers (MSC ≥10; see discussion below); short appressed pubescence scattered over body, of light to moderate density on most surfaces, including the postpetiole (where the hairs are separated by their lengths or more). Black to dark brownish-black, mandibles, antennae, and apical portions of legs lighter brown; scape and first funicular segment often (not always) contrastingly lighter than remainder of funiculus.

Type Material

Ward (2001) - Holotype (by monotypy), worker, Bachian [labeled 'Bac.'], Indonesia (Wallace) (Oxford University Museum of Natural History).

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Pseudomyrma carbonaria

One worker syntype in Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Labelled “B” (= Bouru I.). The syntype queen mentioned in the original description was not found.

Pseudomyrma nitida

Holotype worker in Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Labelled “Bac.”