Hypoponera punctatissima Roger, 1859

Description and notes

Hypoponera punctatissima is a small brown ant with a functioning sting, a single substantial petiole and a constriction between the first and second segments of the gaster. It is an underground species with wingless worker-like males and only the alate gynes are likely to be seen above ground. There is some dispute as to whether this should be treated as a native species because it is most often come across in greenhouses and other permanently heated buildings but there is evidence for its presence 1500 years ago in northern Britain (Seifert, 2003) and colonies have occasionally been discovered a long way from human habitation. The similar species H. ergatandria (Forel) previously named H. schauinslandi (Emery) (Seifert, 2013) has occasionally been recorded in Britain (Seifert 2003). It is a little smaller than punctatissima and can be separated in the gynes by measuring head width and scape length. It has a tropical or sub-tropical origin and cannot survive outdoors in Britain. It has an unusual flight period of November to February. Because H. ergatandria was only recently recognised as present in Britain there is some uncertainty about existing records. The map therefore probably combines records for both species. Where records are known to be of H. ergatandria they have been omitted from the map.

Distribution

Isolated records from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

A cosmopolitan species distributed throughout Europe, the tropics and sub-tropics.

 

Status (in Britain only)

Not regarded as scarce or threatened.

Habitat

This species has been found in greenhouses and buildings that are permanently heated and also in outdoor waste spoils warmed by fermentation or decay.

Flight period

May to September

Foraging behaviour

Feeds on very small soil living arthropods.

Nesting biology

Colonies are underground and can be polydomous usually containing several queens, a few males and around 200 workers.

Author of profile

M G Fox

Year profile last updated

2012