Tetraponera furtiva, Ward, 2022

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 : 31-32

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Tetraponera furtiva

sp. nov.

Tetraponera furtiva sp. nov.

( Figs 10 View FIGURES 10–12 , 37 View FIGURES 35–40 )

Type material. Holotype worker: South Africa, Eastern Cape, Hamburg , 10 m, 33°17′S 27°28′E, 19 Jan 2003, coastal scrub forest edge, ex Acacia thorn, A. L. Wild AW1830 ( CASENT0843646 ) ( SAMC) GoogleMaps . Paratypes: 4 workers, same data as holotype ( CASENT0796647 , CASENT0843643, CASENT0843644, CASENT0843645) ( UCDC, SAMC) GoogleMaps . 1 wingless female, apparent ergatoid queen, same locality, date, coastal scrub forest edge, singleton forager, A. L. Wild AW1834 ( CASENT0794420 ) ( UCDC) GoogleMaps .

Worker measurements (n = 5). HW 0.56–0.61, HL 0.74–0.81, LHT 0.48–0.51, CI 0.73–0.76, FCI 0.11–0.12, REL 0.30–0.32, REL2 0.41–0.42, SI 0.56–0.62, SI3 1.36–1.49, FI 0.42–0.45, PLI 0.56–0.61, PWI 0.46–0.48, LHT/ HW 0.84–0.87, CSC 2, MSC 0.

Worker diagnosis. Similar in size and form to Tetraponera clypeata and T. emeryi , i.e., a small species ( HW 0.56–0.61) with relatively elongate head, closely contiguous frontal carinae ( FCI 0.11–0.12), a slender petiole ( PLI 0.56–0.61), and sparse standing pilosity ( CSC 2, MSC 0). Differing from the other two species as follows: head broader, on average ( CI 0.73–0.76), and scape short ( SI 0.56–0.62); petiole slightly more robust, i.e., shorter and wider, such that PWI 0.46–0.48, PL/HW 0.72–0.77, and FW/PL 0.40–0.45. Body medium-brown in color, the mesonotum, anterior portion of head, and antennae variably lighter ( Fig. 10 View FIGURES 10–12 ).

Comments. At first glance Tetraponera furtiva appears to be a dusky version of T. emeryi , being intermediate in coloration between that species and T. clypeata . This suggests the possibility that it represents a hybrid population derived from those two species: it occurs within the range of T. emeryi and just beyond the known eastern limit of T. clypeata , where conceivably reproductive isolating mechanisms are weaker. Nevertheless T. furtiva workers do have some distinctive features of their own, most notably shorter scapes than T. emeryi (SI 0.56–0.62 versus 0.64–0.68 in T. emeryi ) and a shorter, broader petiole than both T. clypeata and T. emeryi (PL/HW 0.72–0.77 and FW/PL 0.40–0.45, versus PL/HW 0.79–0.94 and FW/PL 0.33–0.39 in the other two species). The wingless female (AW1834), here interpreted as an ergatoid queen, is larger than the T. furtiva workers (HW 0.67), with well developed ocelli (absent in the workers), a more robust mesosoma with one pair of standing hairs on the posterior margin of the pronotum (standing pilosity absent from the mesosoma dorsum in workers), and a larger gaster.

Distribution and biology. This species is known only from two collections taken at the same site in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, with precise coordinates of 33.28792°S 27.46790°E (A. L. Wild, pers. comm.). The type workers were collected from a nest or nest fragment in an acacia ( Vachellia ) thorn, at the edge of low, scrubby coastal forest along an estuary.

Material examined. Known only from the type series.


Iziko Museums of Cape Town


R. M. Bohart Museum of Entomology


Colegio del Sagrado Corazón


Carnegie Institution of Washington


Museo Botánico (SI)