Apterostigma pilosum Mayr 1865

Attini, Myrmicinae, Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker lateral view

worker face view

worker lateral view


Widespread in Neotropics, from southern Mexico to Argentina. Costa Rica: throughout the country from sea level to 1700m.


Metanotum lacking longitudinal carinae; anterior margin of clypeus convex, with thin fringe of smooth cuticle; propodeal spiracles not strongly projecting; mesosoma length 1.3-1.7mm; lateral margins of frontal lobes in face view rounded to moderately angulate.

Natural History

Apterostigma pilosum, almost certainly a complex of many species (see Comments), occurs in forested habitats throughout Costa Rica, from sea level to cloud forest habitats at 1700m. Most examples are workers and queens extracted from Berlese or Winkler samples of sifted leaf litter. In the Bosque Humedo of Santa Rosa National Park I found a nest under a stone. The fungus garden was a spongy mass about 5cm wide. The colony was polygynous, with at least 9 dealate queens. At Estacion Pitilla in the Guanacaste Conservation Area, I found a golf ball-sized nest under rotten wood along a dirt road in second growth forest. At the El Ceibo station along the Barva Transect in Braulio Carrillo National Park, I found a nest under dead wood on ground. The nest space was a disk-shaped area about 4cm across. White hyphae lined the nest and the center was a mass of fuzzy yellow particles. The workers were all immobile on disturbance and very hard to see. They remained motionless for several minutes before beginning to move.


Lattke (1997) discussed the pilosum complex as a variable group within which species boundaries were uncertain. He did not attempt to revise the group but instead highlighted the need for further research. After examining 37 different collections from 23 localities in Costa Rica, I conclude that the same complexity occurs within Costa Rica. These are the most generalized and smallest Apterostigma. They vary in size, scape index, and shape of frontal lobes, but I have not been able to sort them into discrete morphological clusters. Almost all the collections are from workers in samples of sifted leaf litter from the forest floor, so there are few observations of behavior or nest structure that might point to species differences. Given the nature of diversity and the amount of morphological variation, I am almost certain this group is comprised of numerous species. Lattke lists numerous available names in the pilosum complex, but for now I call them all pilosum (the oldest name in the group) until we know more about species boundaries.

Literature Cited

Lattke, J. E. 1997. Revisi—n del gˇnero Apterostigma Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Arq. Zool. (S‹o Paulo) 34:121-221.

Page author:

John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.longinoj@evergreen.edu

Date of this version: 4 April 2004.
Previous versions of this page:
Go back to top

Go to Ants of Costa Rica Homepage