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Plectroctena sp ants.jpg
Two workers in Tanzania
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Plectroctena
F.Smith, 1858
Type species
Plectroctena mandibularis
F.Smith, 1858
17 species

Cacopone Santschi, 1914

P. mandibularis

Plectroctena is a Afrotropical genus of ants, with most species occurring in the rainforest zones of West and Central Africa.[2] Some species are cryptic or subterranean foragers,[2] while others forage in open grassland terrain. The workers forage singly[3] or in groups of 2 to 3.[4] They nest in the earth at varying depths, or in collapsed logs. They prey mainly on millipedes, including their young or eggs.[2]

Colony structure[edit]

A colony of P. lygaria (a small species of the mandibularis-group) may number in excess of 300 adults. An excavated colony in the Ivory Coast consisted of 277 workers, 8 alate queens, and 42 alate males. Consequently 15% of their number was allocated to reproductives at the specific time.[2] The colony size of P. mandibularis however, seldom exceeds 50 individuals.[2][3]


In a colony of P. lygaria, the nest chambers are located at shallow depth, in moist soil under dense leaf litter. The deepest chamber may be located about 7 cm below the surface, with each chamber up to 1 cm in height.[2] The chambers are specialized to house either brood or prey items. Nests of the widespread species P. mandibularis however, are composed of chambers typically located 2 feet or more below the surface, with entrances that are usually marked by large piles of earth.[3][2]


It is believed that millipede eggs may at times constitute the exclusive diet of P. lygaria,[2] while newly emerged millipede young may be an additional food source for the smaller Plectroctena species. Larger species like P. conjugata, P. mandibularis and P. minor specialize on adult millipedes.[2]



  1. ^ Bolton, B. (2014). "Plectroctena". AntCat. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bolton, B.; Gotwald, W. H.; Leroux, J-M (1976). "A new West African ant of the genus Plectroctena with ecological notes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)" (PDF). Annales de l'Université d'Abidjan, serié E (Ecologie). Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Arnold, G. (1915). "A monograph of the Formicidae in South Africa. Part I.". Annals of the South African Museum. 14: 1–159. 
  4. ^ Bolton, B. (1974). "A revision of the Ponerine ant genus Plectroctena F. Smith (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)". Bulletin of the British Museum. 30: 309–338. 

External links[edit]