Say hello to Phrynoponera gabonensis, a pudgy ponerine hunting ant (Kibale forest, Uganda).

I’m discovering that the fastest way to determine I’m not the first person to photograph something is to make an audacious claim about the supreme gloriousness of my first-ness in the shooting of exquisitely rare Ant X. The internet will sort me out, of course.

Thus, I suspect I may have taken the first ever images of a living, walking Phrynoponera hunting ant. I can’t find any live photographs of this thing in either the printed literature or online. If you know otherwise, please point me in the right direction!

Phrynoponera is a tropical African hunting ant recognizable for its compact form and distinctly spiny waist. We encountered P. gabonensis several times during this summer’s Ant Course in Uganda, usually as single foragers walking about at night on the forest floor. I found them to be timid, retiring ants more prone to hiding than biting. As is often the case with uncommon ants, almost nothing is known about their biology.

reference: Bolton, B, Fisher, B. L. 2008. The Afrotropical ponerine ant genus Phrynoponera Wheeler (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 1892: 35-52.