Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Heteroponera brouni (Forel 1892)


Family:  Formicidae
Subfamily:  Heteroponerinae
Tribe:  Ectatommini
Genus:  Heteroponera
Species:  brouni

Common name(s) 

Crypt ants (Andersen 2002)

Synonyms (Valentine & Walker 1991 )

Ectatomma (Acanthoponera) brownii Forel, Acanthoponera (Anacanthoponera) brouni kirki Wheeler, Acanthoponera brounii (Forel), Acanthoponera brouni (Forel), Acanthoponera (Anacanthoponera) brouni (Forel)


The distribution of Heteroponera is discontinuous, with 12 described species from Central America, three from Australia and a single endemic species from New Zealand (Shattuck 1999). Brown (1958a) favours derivation from an Australian ancestor.

Distribution (see map)

Restricted to the North Island (Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Waikato, Taranaki) and to the Three Kings Islands (Taylor 1962; Don 1994).

General Description


Species of Heteroponera have a raised median carina on the dorsal surface of the head, running from the clypeus to the occiput. The single node of the petiole has distinct front, top and rear faces.

Diagnostic features of the worker

Length about 3.5 mm; antennae 12-segmented with a 3-segmented club; eyes rather large; petiolar node in the form of a thick, erect scale, truncate at the summit and with a slightly overhanging posterodorsal border; the tip of each hind tibia has a single, comb-like spur; colour brownish-red.


The biology of H. brouni is poorly known. H. brouni is a native forest dweller, nesting in soil under leaf litter and in rotten logs. Colonies are small (fewer than 200 workers) and seldom seen; workers move sluggishly and feign death when disturbed. The queens, like those of several Heteroponera species, are wingless and worker-like (ergatoid). Workers can be sampled in litter extractions and will forage on sweet jam or honey baits.

Pest Status

Impacts not known, but considered unlikely to be a pest.


Compiled by Warwick Don & Richard Harris

References ››

Figures and maps