Tetraponera caffra (Santschi)

Ward, Philip S., 2022, The ant genus Tetraponera (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Afrotropical region: taxonomic review and key to species, Zootaxa 5102 (1), pp. 1-70 : 48-49

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Tetraponera caffra (Santschi)


Tetraponera caffra (Santschi)

( Figs 25 View FIGURES 25–27 , 42 View FIGURES 41–46 )

Sima natalensis st. caffra Santschi 1914d: 15 . Syntypes, 8 workers, 3 dealate queens, 1 male, Dukudu , Zululand, South Africa (Tragardh) ( MHNG, NHMB) [examined] . 1 syntype worker from NHMB imaged on AntWeb: CASENT0915532 .

Sima natalensis obscurata var. caffra (Santschi) ; Arnold 1916: 178.

Tetraponera natalensis caffra (Santschi) ; Wheeler 1922b: 799. Combination in Tetraponera .

Tetraponera caffra (Santschi) ; Ward & Downie 2005: 326. Raised to species.

Tetraponera caffra (Santschi) ; Chomicki et al. 2015: figure S1. Placement in molecular phylogeny.

Worker measurements (n = 9). HW 0.98–1.06, HL 1.08–1.29, LHT 0.73–0.84, CI 0.82–0.92, FCI 0.10–0.13, REL 0.43–0.47, REL2 0.51–0.56, SI 0.45–0.48, SI3 0.84–0.92, FI 0.45–0.49, PLI 0.69–0.80, PWI 0.68–0.76, LHT/HW 0.74–0.8, CSC 2–7, MSC 3–8.

Worker diagnosis. Relatively small species, with head longer than broad (CI 0.82–0.92) and eyes of moderate size (REL 0.43–0.47); posterior margin of eye not attaining the level of the lateral ocelli; frontal carinae separated by about basal scape width (FCI 0.10–0.13, MFC/SL 0.21–0.28); scapes short (SI 0.45–0.48), markedly less than eye length (SI3 0.84–0.92); anterior clypeal margin slightly produced medially, furnished with a small median denticle, flanked by a lateral pair of denticles (denticles sometimes obsolete, so that clypeal margin appears crenulate rather than denticulate) ( Fig. 25a View FIGURES 25–27 ); profemur relatively robust (FI 0.45–0.49, FW/PL 0.49-0.54); mesonotum bounded posteriorly by a weak transverse impression, often quite faint; metanotal plate not present; dorsal face of propodeum flattened, laterally submarginate, longer than declivitous face and rounding insensibly into the latter; petiole relatively short and high (see PLI and PWI values), dorsolaterally submarginate, and with an anteroventral tooth; in profile, petiolar node with steep anterodorsal and posterodorsal faces, rounding insensibly into one another; in dorsal view, petiole narrowly obovate to subtrapezoidal, the sides diverging posteriorly ( Fig. 25b View FIGURES 25–27 ); postpetiole slightly broader than long. Head and mesosoma densely punctulate-coriarious, matte. Standing pilosity relatively sparse (CSC 2–7, MSC 3–8), absent from mesonotum, propodeum and extensor faces of tibiae (HTC 0, MTC 0); body with a rather dense cover of fine pubescence, partly decumbent and suberect. Light orange-brown, the upper third of head around ocelli and the tip of gaster variably infuscated.

Comments. This is a small, light orange-brown species whose workers have short scapes (SI 0.45–0.48) and a robust profemur (FI 0.45–0.49, FW/SL 0.69-0.76). There is usually also a conspicuous dark patch on the upper third of the head, surrounding the ocelli ( Fig. 25a View FIGURES 25–27 ), although this is weakly developed in some individuals. The other three species in the T. natalensis group with similar orange-brown coloration, T. natalensis , T. redacta , and T. schulthessi , have longer scapes (SI 0.50–0.55) and a more slender profemur (FI 0.38–0.46, FW/SL 0.53-0.66), and they lack infuscation on the upper third of the head. Workers of T. schulthessi are also notably larger in size (HW 1.38–1.68, versus 0.98–1.06 in T. caffra ). See under T. kosi for comparison with that darker-colored species.

Distribution and biology. Tetraponera caffra is known from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. All nest-site records are from hollow thorns of Vachellia species , including V. cf. karroo , V. nilotica , V. tortilis and V. xanthophloea . Although apparently a nest-site specialist, T. caffra inhabits dead thorns and the workers are rather timid in their behavior. There is no evidence of a mutually beneficial relationship between the ants and the plants, although the association deserves greater study.

Material examined ( CASC, MHNG, MSNG, NHMB, PSWC, SAMC, UCDC, USNM). Mozambique: Sofala: 10 km NNE Chitengo, Gorongosa Natl. Park, 25 m (Ward, P. S.); South Africa: KwaZulu-Natal: “Zululand” (c.u.); “Zululand” (Trägårdh); 10 km NNW Mpila, Umfolozi Game Res., 120 m (Ward, P. S.); 2.5 km W Candover (Grobbelaar, F.; Millar, I. M.); 4.5 km SW Golela (Grobbelaar, F.; Millar, I. M.); Abu Madi Game Ranch, 200 m (Ward, P. S.); Cloete Farm, near Hluhluwe (Millar, I. M.; Grobbelaar, E.); Dugandlovu Camp, False Bay Park, 10 m (Ward, P. S.); Dukudu, Zululand (Trägårdh); Hilltop Camp, Hluhluwe Game Res., 450 m (Ward, P. S.); Kuleni Farm, near Hluhluwe (Grobbelaar, F.; Millar, I. M.); Mlalazi N.R., 11 m (Taylor, R.); Pongola (c.u.); Limpopo: Guernsey, near Klaserie (Grobbelaar, F.; Millar, I. M.); Mpumalanga: Mwewe, E of Mhlosana (Millar, I. M.; Stals, R.); near Bosfontein (Millar, I. M.; Stals, R.); near Driekoppies (Millar, I. M.; Stals, R.); near Sibayeni (Millar, I. M.; Stals, R.); nr. Masibekela, 8 km NE Mananga (Millar, I. M.; Stals, R.); Zimbabwe: Manicaland: Umtali (Arnold, G.); Mashonaland Central: Zambesi Valley, 7 km SE Angwa Bridge (Weyrich, J.).


Museum d'Histoire Naturelle


Natural History Museum Bucharest


Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova 'Giacomo Doria'


Iziko Museums of Cape Town


R. M. Bohart Museum of Entomology


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History














Tetraponera caffra (Santschi)

Ward, Philip S. 2022

Tetraponera caffra (Santschi)

Ward, P. S. & Downie, D. A. 2005: 326

Tetraponera natalensis caffra (Santschi)

Wheeler, W. M. 1922: 799

Sima natalensis obscurata var. caffra (Santschi)

Arnold, G. 1916: 178

Sima natalensis st. caffra

Santschi, F. 1914: 15