Pachycondyla carinulata (Roger 1861)

Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker lateral view


Southern Mexico to Amazonia, Bolivia. Costa Rica: widespread in mature rainforest; sea level to 800m on Cordillera de Tilaran, to 1300m on Cordillera de Talamanca.


Mesosomal dorsum with erect hairs; opening of propodeal spiracle viewed perpendicularly slit-shaped, more than twice as long as wide; mandible with ten or more teeth; in side view, dorsal outline of mesosoma forms a continuous convexity including mesonotum, metanotum and propodeal dorsum; propodeal groove obsolete or nearly so, and not strongly impressed; distinct carina runs from the lateral wing of the clypeus near the mandibular insertion to or nearly to the anteromesal quarter of the margin around the eye; acrotergite of second gastral tergum (when exposed) with a distinctly differentiated median stridulatory file with bands of rainbow colors; arolia present; petiolar node as seen from the side with anterior and posterior faces strongly converging above to form a sharply rounded summit near midlength; color black with orange legs.

Natural History

This species is a very common arboreal forager in the canopy of mature rainforest. Workers run very rapidly on tree trunks and are difficult to catch. All the nests I have observed have been small, with few workers. They seem to nest opportunistically in almost any small cavity: under epiphytes, in small pieces of dead wood, dead hollow stems, etc. I once found a nest in two internodes of a Cecropia insignis sapling.

Type Data

Ponera carinulata Roger 1861:4. Syntype queen: Bolton (1995) has Guyana as type locality. Kempf (1972) has Brazil, Minas Gerais, Sao Joao d'El Rey.

Taxonomic Notes

Among the material I identify as carinulata in Costa Rica, I do not find discrete sympatric forms or any pattern of geographic variation. Thus there is no evidence of multiple species in Costa Rica. However, in the taxonomic literature there are two infraspecific taxa as follows:

Pachycondyla carinulata r. azteca Forel 1899:11. Syntype worker: Panama, Volcan de Chiriqui.

Neoponera carinulata subsp. gibbinota Forel 1909:246. Syntype worker: Guatemala.

The status of these two taxa has not been assessed, and the published descriptions do not adequately differentiate them from true carinulata or from each other. If further research shows that carinulata is a species complex, with true carinulata being a different species from the Costa Rican form, then azteca or gibbinota could be the correct name for the Costa Rican form. Alternatively, they could be synonyms of carinulata. Bill Brown's unpublished key did not contain either azteca or gibbinota, so I assume he considered them synonyms of carinulata.

Note: Mackay and Mackay (2010) formally synonymize these forms.

Literature Cited

Forel, A. 1899. Formicidae. Biologia-Centrali Americana 3:1-169.

Forel, A. 1909. Ameisen aus Guatemala usw., Paraguay und Argentinien (Hym.). Dt. Entomol. Z. 1909:239-269.

Mackay, W. P., and E. E. Mackay 2010. The Systematics and Biology of the New World Ants of the Genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellon Press, Lewiston.

Roger, J. 1861. Die Ponera-artigen Ameisen (Schluss). Berl. Entomol. Z. 5:1-54.

Page author:

John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505

Date of this version: 24 December 2010.
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