Photo 3569618, (c) Peter Slingsby, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)

Attribution © Peter Slingsby
some rights reserved
Uploaded by peterslingsby peterslingsby
Source iNaturalist
Associated observations

Photos / Sounds


Copper-bellied Ant (Ochetellus glaber)




May 2, 2016


First spotted in January 2016, the identity of these ants has been confirmed as the tramp or invasive Copper bellied ant, Ochetellus glaber. Flippie Herbst has provided these superb photos in the hope that householders, especially in suburban Cape Town, can help evaluate the extent of the invasion, as the ants have never been recorded in Africa before. They might originate from New Zealand, other Pacific islands or even Sumatra.
Ochetellus glaber . Small [1.5 - 1.9 mm] dark ants with dark coppery gasters and paler leg joints; superficially similar in shape and movement to Argentine ants [Linepithema humile] but much smaller and darker; both species intensely antagonistic towards each other and attack on contact. Runs in trails, lives in interconnected supercolonies with multiple queens; colonies spread by 'budding'. From its presumed semi- or tropical origins it seems to prefer warmer temperatures and only appears at my house from mid-morning to mid-afternoon [Linepithema operates around the clock]. Has invaded parts of Northern Australia, Florida, tropical S American coast but not California or Europe. On Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar. Reacts aggressively too to Technomyrmex difficilis which sometimes appears on the same wall.
Identified originally by MeldeM, who must take the credit for the ID; ID confirmed by international myrmecologists Brian Fisher, Barry Bolton, Vincenzo Gentile

Associated taxa