Hypoponera eduardi (Forel 1894)
Crypt ants (Andersen 2002)
Synonyms (WWW5; Valentine & Walker 1991 )
Ponera antipodum Forel, Ponera eduardi Forel
There are some 170 known species of Hypoponera worldwide, 11 occurring in Australia (Shattuck 1999). One only is confirmed established in New Zealand, the introduced tramp species, Hypoponera eduardi , originating from the Mediterranean region. It has not been recorded in Australia. A second species, H. punctatissima is established on the Kermadec Is (Valentine & Walker 1991) and has recently established (2003) in a heated building in Dunedin.
Distribution (see map)
This species was present in this country late in the 19 th century (Forel erroneously described the worker in 1895 under the name Ponera antipodum, not realising he had already described Algerian specimens of the species just the year before under the name Ponera eduardi ). It is widespread on both main islands, and occurs on the Three Kings Is (Don 1994). But there appears to be a southern limit, since it has not been collected further south than Timaru in the east and Mt Hercules, near Harihari, in the west.
In the genus Hypoponera , the mandibles are triangular with numerous teeth along their inner margins. The node of the petiole has distinct front, top and rear faces. The tips of the tibiae of the hind legs each have a single large, comb-like spur.
Diagnostic features of the worker
Length 2.6-3.0 mm; eyes minute; antennae 12-segmented; the body is elongate, similar to that of Amblyopone saundersi , but the petiolar node is in the form of a thick erect scale; colour dark red-brown to black.
Workers of H. eduardi feign death when disturbed. Small soil-dwelling arthropods (e.g., collembolans) probably form the main ingredients of their diet. Larvae are able to stick to the sides of the nest cell by means of glutinous tubercles. The last instar larvae pupate inside a pale silken cocoon. Like A. saundersi, colonies are diffusely scattered through the substrate. Nests occur under stones etc in the open, often in extremely dry conditions, or under stones or rotting logs in native forests. Found in a wide range of habitats from native forest to highly disturbed areas around ports. Foragers are seldom seen and it is more common to find nests under stones etc, but workers have been sampled on protein baits and honey/peanut butter baits (RJH pers. obs.). Specimens often turn up in litter and moss samples and in pitfall traps.
The colony structure is unusual. Females in a colony are of three forms: true females (winged or dealate), ergatoid or worker-like females (wingless auxillary reproductives) and normal workers.
Impacts not known, but considered unlikely to be a pest.
Compiled by Warwick Don & Richard Harris