The first live photographs of Phrynoponera, an African hunting ant

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.

4 thoughts on “The first live photographs of Phrynoponera, an African hunting ant”

  1. I think you are correct this time, Alex. I do not know of any live shots of this genus that have been taken before.

    1. I was rather surprised to have trouble finding other photographs of this ant, Barry. Phrynoponera is large & surface-foraging, and while not abundant it certainly isn’t all that rare, either. I suspect someone has already photographed one, but just didn’t get around to identifying it.

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