Hypoponera punctatissima, full face view of a worker (FL, Jefferson Co.)
Hypoponera punctatissima, lateral view of a worker (FL, Jefferson Co.)
Photo courtesy of http://www.antweb.org/
Hypoponera punctatissima, dorsal view of a worker (FL, Jefferson Co.)
Photo courtesy of http://www.antweb.org/
Hypoponera punctatissima, full face view of a queen (MS, Jackson Co.) (photo by Ryan J. Whitehouse and Joe A. MacGown)
Hypoponera punctatissima, lateral view of a queen (MS, Jackson Co.) (photo by Ryan J. Whitehouse and Joe A. MacGown)
Hypoponera punctatissima, dorsal view of a queen (MS, Jackson Co.) (photo by Ryan J. Whitehouse and Joe A. MacGown)
Hypoponera species can be identified by having a waist with only one distinct segment; gaster being narrowly connected to the waist; presence of a sting; apex of gaster pointed downwards or posteriorly; frontal lobes covering antennal insertion point; head and body relatively smooth; mandibles triangular; only one pectinate spur on hind tarsi; and subpetiolar process simple and not toothed.
Hypoponera punctatissima is possibly one of the most widespread tramp ants in the world. Colonies can be found in a variety of locations including leaf litter, soil and green houses. Even though it is so widespread, H. punctatissima’s cryptic nature and small size make it rarely encountered.
Taxonomic History (Bolton 2016)
Queen: (MEM measurements) HL: 0.62-0.66mm, HW: 0.51-0.53mm, SL: 0.37-0.42mm, EL: 0.13-0.15mm, MeSL: 0.84-0.92mm (n=5,). Color is an orangish-brown with lighter appendages. Head covered in short, hair-like setae; eyes well developed and situated laterally on the anterior 1/3 of the head; three ocelli present; mandibles triangular in shaped and lighter color than the rest of the head; antennae twelve segmented with a three segmented club. Mesosoma covered in short, hair-like setae; enlarged to support four wings, which may or may not still be present; mesopleuron shining and smooth; dorsal surface relatively flat. Waist single segmented; setae short and hair-like with some longer, erect setae on the posterior edge of the apex of the petiole; the length of the petiolar segment is subequal to the height of the petiole; subpetiolar process simple and unhooked. Gaster with a mixture of short, hair-like setae and longer erect setae; first two segments elongated and longer than the preceding segments; defined constriction between the first and second segment; sting present.
Male: (from Bolton and Fisher 2011) Ergatoid males are produced and fall into two categories with one group being larger, brown and with small eyes present and the second group being smaller, yellow and eyeless (Yamauchi, et al. 1996). These ergatoid males are very worker-like, especially in head structure, but have shorter scapes (SI 68–72), only 12-segmented antennae (as do workers, intercastes and queens), and fully developed male genitalia. Alate males have never been observed, and it is assumed that they do not exist.
This species can be separated from similar ants in the area by the presence of a simple untoothed, subpetiolar process, mesopleuron that is shiny and lacks sculpturing and a relatively short petiole.
Biology and Economic Importance
This species is not considered to be economically important, but definitely has a cosmopolitan distribution. H. punctatissima can be considered a nuisance because they have been known to sting when agitated or trapped in clothing and are most often encountered in large numbers during flight swarms. This species has also been found in hospitals in cold weather climates such as Wisconsin and Connecticut.
Australian: Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New guinea, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Island, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Wallis and Fortuna Islands (AntWiki.org).
U.S. Distribution: AL, AZ, CA, FL, HI, IA, LA, MS, NC, NM, SC, TX, WA (AntWeb.org and MEM).
Bolton, B. 2016. Bolton World Catalog Ants. Available online: http://www.antweb.org/world.jsp. Accessed 9 March 2016.
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