The subfamily Pseudomyrmecinae is a group of slender bodied, large-eyed, arboreal ants found throughout the Old and New World tropics (Ward, 2001). Members are mostly arboreal. Some species have mutualistic associations with particular plants; ants nest in modified cavities (domatia) of the living plants, and provide protection against herbivores (reviewed in Ward, 1990). There is only one genus, Tetraponera, from our Campus to represent this subfamily. Ward (2001) revised the ant genus Tetraponera in the Oriental and Australian regions and revealed 33 species. In the same publication, four species groups are defined and aspects of their phylogeny and biogeography are explored.

Genus 10. Tetraponera Smith

The workers of Tetraponera can be distinguished from those of all other ants by the combination of well-developed postpetiole, short mandibles, large oval eyes, and a flexible promesonotal suture (Ward, 2001).

Key to species (modified from Bingham, 1903)

Ocelli present in workers head, second joint of pedicel and abdomen black, rest is orange–red, length 11 mm
rufonigra (Jerdon)
Ocelli absent in workers, black
Black, small in size (less than 5mm)
aitkenii (Forel)
Black, larger in size (greater than 5mm)
Petiole anteriorly of first node shorter than node
allaborans (Walker)
Petiole anteriorly of first node as long as, but distinctly not longer than node itself
nigra (Jerdon)

10.1. Tetraponera aitkenii

Sima aitkenii Forel, 1902. Rev. Suisse zool., 10: 245.

This species can be distinguished from other species by its smaller size.

Distribution: Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu (Ward, 2001).

Range: India (Western India), Sri Lanka  (Bingham, 1903) and Malaysia (Ward, 2001)

10.2. Tetraponera allaborans (Walker)

Pseudomyrma allaborans Walker, 1859. Ann. Mag.Nat.Hist. (3) 4:  370 – 376.

Length 5-6mm. It is black in colour and the body is highly polished and shining. Mandibles and antennae are reddish yellow. The legs are reddish brown. Pilosity is very sparse and pubescense entirely absent. 

It occupies a broad range of habitats including primary and secondary rainforest, montane rainforest, broad-leaved evergreen forest (in the Himalayan foothills), oak-pine forest, bamboo forest, tropical dry forest, riparian forest, mangrove, rubber plantation, roadside and urban parkland (Ward, 2001).

Distribution: Bangalore, Chitradurga, Hosadurga (Ali, 1992), Western India (Bingham, 1903) and Tamil Nadu (Tiwari, 1999). Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Orissa, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal (Ward, 2001)

Range: This is a wide-ranging species found in India and Sri Lanka east to Mainland China and Taiwan, and south through Southeast Asia to northern Australia (Ward, 2001). 

10.3. Tetraponera nigra (Jerdon)

Eciton nigra Jerdon, 1851 Madras J. Lit. Sci., 17: 112.

This is a large black species.  Ward (2001) recorded its habitats as tropical dry forest, riparian forest, semidecidous forest, rainforest, ‘kerangas woodland’ and mangrove. It nests in live stems of Stereospermum personatum (Karnataka) and live thorns of Acacia horrida (Tamil Nadu).

Distribution: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal (Ward, 2001).

Range:  India, Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma, Tennaserim, Malaya, Borneo, and Philippines (Bingham, 1903; Donisthorpe, 1942; Chapman and Capco, 1951). Ward (2001) reports that T. nigra encompasses much of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia south to Java and Borneo.

10.4. Tetraponera rufonigra (Jerdon)

Eciton rufonigra Jerdon, 1851. Madras. J. Lit. Sci., 17: 111.

This is a large species (Length 11mm). Body usually bicoloured, head and gaster black, rest orange-red. This species can be easily distinguished from other species by its large size, presence of ocelli and bicoloured body. It nests in cavities in dead and living wood (Bingham, 1903). Habitats occupied by this species include semideciduous woodland, mangrove, urban parkland, gardens, and  ‘degraded costal hillforest’ (Ward, 2001).

Distribution: Throughout Karnataka (Bingham, 1903), Tamil Nadu, Kerala (Tiwari, 1999) and Rajasthan (Tak and Rathore, 1996)

Range: India, Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, Singapore, China, Burma and Campodia (Bingham, 1903; Donisthorpe, 1942; Chapman and Capco; 1951, Tiwari, 1999 and Tak, 1995).