Ponera pennsylvanica

Variable, but typically very dark reddish-brown to nearly black, mandibles, append ages, and the tip of the gaster paler (brownish-yellow to yellowish-brown); head and alitrunk very finely but densely punctate, surface moderately dull; pubescence very short. The only species in our area; see generic diag­nosis.

Most Ohio references incorrectly list it as a subspecies of the European P. coarctata.

They form small colonies “seldom more than 40 or 50 workers with 5 to 15 pupae during brood rearing” (Amstutz, 1943). But these small colonies can be abundant in the soil (Headley, 1952). Cocoons are oblong and yellow-ish in color.

A series of four normal males, two workers, and three ergatomorphic males collected by C. H. Kennedy, Aug. 23, 1930 on Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada (DMNH col In., Kennedy #3163, which does not correspond to his notes) were examined. Kennedy had referred to these specimens as “antero-posterior gynandromorphs!” Basically they have the head of a male with a worker thorax and abdomen. One specimen appears to have a completely typical worker abdomen while the other two have greatly reduced male genitalia.

In Taylor ( 1967:8) it is stated for the genus Ponera that male “ergatoids are apparently not developed.” Ergatoid males are known for Hypoponera [H. gleadowi (as ergatandria) and H. opaciceps in our area; see Smith & Haug, 1931 ], so the preceding constitutes the first known record of ergatoid, or worker-like, males for the genus Ponera.


3mm - 3.8mm

Nuptial Flight Dates

August 15 - October 8


Found in a variety of moist woodlands; less commonly in open habitats.


Carnivorous, feeding on small insects.


The slow-moving workers are found foraging in the woods on the ground, under the bark of logs, in rot­ten logs, and under rocks. They are rarely if ever, seen on the surface (hypogaeic).

Nesting Information

Nests are most commonly under the bark of logs, but in rotten logs or stumps, under rocks, in humus, and in hickory nut shells.

Verified Locales (counties)

Adams, Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Columbiana, Coshocton, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Darke, Erie, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Guernsey, Hamilton, Hancock, Hocking, Holmes, Huron, Jefferson, Knox, Lake, Lawrence, Licking, Lucas, Madison, Mahoning, Marion, Medina, Meigs, Miami, Montgomery, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Ottawa, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Preble, Richland, Ross, Scioto, Seneca, Shelby, Union, Van Wert, Vinton, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wyandot,

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