Pachycondyla purpurascens Forel 1899

Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker lateral view


Mexico south to Bolivia, east to Venezuela, Trinidad. Costa Rica: known from mid to upper elevation sites from Cordillera de Guanacaste to Cordillera Volcanica Central; also known from Bocas del Toro region of Panama, so probably continuous in montane sites throughout the country.


Mesosomal dorsum with erect hairs; opening of propodeal spiracle viewed perpendicularly slit-shaped, more than twice as long as wide; mandible with approximately 9 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; cheeks without a distinct carina between lateral clypeal wing and eye margin; stridulatory file absent; arolia absent; head width greater than 2.0mm; mesosoma greater than 3.6mm long; dorsolateral margin of pronotum uniformly punctate, rounded; clypeus broad front to back, anterior margin truncate, flattened to weakly notched, but with medial margin well in front of frontal lobes.

Similar species: harpax is smaller, and usually has a dorsolateral carina on the pronotum; impressa has a shallower (front to back) clypeus.

Natural History

This species is a dramatically large ant which I occasionally see as individual workers on roads and trails. I have one nest observation from Cerro Cacao in the Guanacaste Conservation Area:

At the bottom of the forest patch below the station, along the trail back to Quebrada Grande, I observed a nest in the steep bank of the trail. A purpurascens worker captured a Gnamptogenys worker from a nest I was excavating. The purpurascens worker moved irregularly back and forth at first, but then went to a simple circular hole in the bank. I followed the hole, excavating horizontally into the bank, until I was a full arm's length plus trowel length into the bank. At this point I began scooping out a few workers at a time. I obtained about 16 workers this way, but then had to stop.

Original Description

Pachycondyla purpurascens Forel 1899:12. Lectotype worker: Costa Rica, Cache [MHNG] (examined).


See comments under impressa. Due to an unfortunate choice of lectotype, this species will become a junior synonym of transversa Emery.

Literature Cited

Bolton, B. 1995. A New General Catalogue of the Ants of the World. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Emery, C. 1901. Notes sur les sous-familles des Dorylines et Ponerines (Famille des Formicides). Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique 45:32-54.

Emery, C. 1911. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 1181-125.

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

Kempf, W. W. 1961. As formigas do genero Pachycondyla Fr. Smith no Brasil (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Revta Bras. Entomol. 10:189-204.

Page author:

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

Date of this version: 24 December 2010.
Previous versions of this page: 3 April 1999.
Go back to top

Go to Ants of Costa Rica Homepage