Meranoplus peringueyi [Emery, 1886]
the Hairy cautious ant
Found these under a stone at Oudebos; they superficially resemble Crematogaster until you realise that they are much too hairy. They’re slow-moving, related to the heavily-sculpted genus Cataulacus, but Meranoplus are always much hairier. There are seven species in SA, but this one is the only one in the Western Cape; it also occurs in KZN, Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Lesotho. Very shy, seldom seen.
Nine-segmented antennae with a three-segmented ‘club’; the promesonotum [top of the thorax] is fused forming a strongly-margined plate with several projections or ‘teeth’; this rugged, hairy plate projects towards the rear, where two prominent spines arise from the propodeum. As are most of the other species, this one is dark brown to brown-black with paler legs and antennae [there is one yellowish species]. Thoroughly furry all over – this one is the hairiest of all. Size 3.8 to 5 mm. This species is the only one with 5 mandibular teeth [the others only have four] but you need a pretty good magnifier to see them. The head is heavily striated, grooved or wrinkled depending upon your choice of jargon.
You can see Sally Adam’s good photos of the species at
Arnold’s description of the species is at http://antsofafrica.org/ant_species_2012/meranoplus/meranoplus_peringueyi/meranoplus_peringueyi_arnold1917.jpg
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