Cryptopone gilva (Roger)
Cryptopone gilva, frontal view of the head of a worker
(click image to enlarge).
Cryptopone gilva, side view of a worker (click image to enlarge).

Originally described by Roger in 1863 as Ponera gilva, this species has been included in several ponerine genera since that time; however, since 1963 (Brown) it has been called Cryptopone gilva. MacKay and MacKay (2010) placed it back in Pachycondyla, but more recently it was placed back into Cryptopone (Schmidt 2013). .

Pachycondyla gilva have small colonies and can be found nesting in moist dead logs, stumps (especially pines), or in litter at the bases of trees. This is a fairly uncommon species and is most easily taken with soil and leaf samples.

Cryptopone gilva range in length from 2-4 mm. The mandible has a small, oval, pit-like depression on the dorsolateral surface near the insertion into the head. The frontal carinae are close together posteriorly; with the anterior parts of the frontal lobes and antennal insertions being very close together. The eyes are small. The tibia of the mid leg have spine-like bristles on the outer surface. The middle and hind tibiae have two apical spurs with one large and pectinate and the other smaller and simple. The tarsal claws simple.

Cryptopone gilva is very similar looking to Ponera and Hypoponera species, but can be readily distinguished from them by the two apical spurs found on the mid and hind legs and the oval pit (or depression) found at the base of the mandible. Both of those characters are hard to see and high magnification and good lighting are quite helpful.

Widely distributed throughout the Southeast (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN).

Literature Cited

Brown, W.L.,Jr. 1963. Characters and synonymies among the genera of ants. Part 3. Some members of the tribe Ponerini. Breviora 190: 1-10. [30.ix.1963.

Schmidt, C. 2013. Molecular phylogenetics of ponerine ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae). Zootaxa 3647 (2): 201-250.

Mackay WP and EE Mackay. 2010. The systematics and biology of the New World ants of the genus Pachycondyla. Edwin Mellen Press. 642 p.