Tetraponera merita Ward 2009, Madagascar

Tetraponera merita Ward 2009, Madagascar

Tetraponera merita Ward 2009 is one of many aculeate species described in the pages of a new festschrift honoring Roy Snelling.  I can’t link to it, unfortunately, as the festschrift is printed the latest issue of the paper-only Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

All the same, if you can get your hands on a copy the effort is worth it, especially for a touching biography penned by Jack Longino and Roy’s son, Gordon Snelling.  The festschrift also holds a couple dozen articles spanning the ecology, chemistry, evolution, and systematics across a broad sampling of aculeate hymenoptera.  Rather appropriate considering the scope of Snelling’s career.

I have been sitting on photos of this pretty malagasy Tetraponera for years, unable to put a name to it.  Thanks to the crystal-clear illustrations in Phil Ward’s contribution to the festschrift- a revision of the Tetraponera grandidieri species group- I was able to identify my mystery ant as T. merita, one of several new species in the revision.  Apparently this species has a memorably painful sting, leading Ward to suggest that “the conspicuous orange and reddish-brown coloration of workers of T. merita…is aposematic.”

source: Ward, P.S. 2009. The Ant Genus Tetraponera in the Afrotropical Region: the T. grandidieri group (Hymenoptera:Formicidae). J. Hym. Res. 18:285-304.