Pachycondyla ferruginea panamensis (Forel 1899)

Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker lateral view

Additional images: worker petiole, lateral view (large); basal sulcus of mandible (large).


Panama (type locality), Costa Rica. Costa Rica: southern Pacific lowlands.


Mesosomal dorsum setose; no carina between mandible and eye; orifice of propodeal spiracle circular, not slit-shaped (note that other species may have a circular boss around the spiracular orifice, but orifice itself is slit-shaped); clypeus truncate anteriorly; color red brown; ventral margin of petiole with flat, horizontal flange projecting posteriorly to near posterior margin of petiole; petiole in lateral view strongly cuboidal; mandibles striate, with well-impressed basal sulcus; HW 1.1-1.3mm.

Similar species: JTL-014, JTL-015, JTL-016, JTL-017, JTL-018.

Natural History

This is a poorly known species that inhabits forest floor leaf litter in rainforest. Workers and dealate queens are taken in Winkler samples of sifted litter from the forest floor. I have examined material from the Osa Peninsula (from sea level to the 700m elevation cloud forest), Manuel Antonio National Park (20m elevation), and Carara Biological Reserve (30m elevation).

Type Data

Ponera ferruginea var. panamensis Forel 1899:15. Syntype queen: Panama, Bugaba.


In Costa Rica there is a set of Pachycondyla species that share the following characteristics: (1) the ventral margin of the petiole has a posteriorly projecting flange that extends nearly to the posterior border (Figure); (2) the opening of the propodeal spiracle is perfectly circular, not at all elliptical or slit-shaped (Figure); and (3) the anterior border of the clypeus has a broad, projecting median portion that is flat to weakly excavate, about as wide as the distance between the frontal lobes, and separated from the sloping lateral portions by angles or short teeth (Figure). The posteroventral petiolar flange is shaped like a shovel, and in lateral view there is a deep sulcus between the flange and the rest of the petiole. It appears to be a protective structure that covers the articulation between the petiole and the third abdominal segment. These ants are a light to dark red brown color, never totally black. Head width ranges from 0.9-1.5mm.

Published names associated with this complex are P. ferruginea (F. Smith 1858), P. ferruginea panamensis (Forel 1899), and P. lunaris (Emery 1896). Smith described ferruginea from one queen from Mexico. The description is brief and inadequate to differentiate among many Pachycondyla species, but it does mention that the color is ferrugineous and the petiole incrassate. Bill Brown keyed members of this complex to ferruginea and I assume he examined the holotype. Forel described ferruginea var. panamensis from one queen from Bugaba, Panama. The description states "6.5mm long, matching the description of Smith but larger, ... mandibles smooth and shiny with sparse puncta, ... with an oblique sulcus at the base of the mandible, ..." Emery described lunaris from a worker from Paraguay (description), and the figure clearly shows the characteristic ventral flange of the petiole (Figure). He describes lunaris as having an oblique sulcus at the mandible base and the mandibles superficially and finely striate. Kempf (1960) discussed additional collections of lunaris from Brazil, stating that the mandibles were largely smooth and shiny, in contrast to Emery's description of the type. Wild (2002) reported an additional collection from Paraguay, and his figure shows smooth and shiny mandibles.

In Costa Rica I see evidence of six different species. Differences are outlined in the key and under individual species accounts.

Assessment of ferruginea Smith must await examination of the type and additional material between Costa Rica and Mexico (a web-accessible e-type library would be helpful). The assignment of the name panamensis to the Costa Rican species from the southern Pacific lowlands is based on geographic proximity to the type locality and the presence of a mandibular sulcus. However, a discrepancy is that Costa Rican panamensis have striate mandibles, while the type queen was described as having smooth mandibles. In that regard panamensis may be more like my morphospecies JTL-018. The relation of lunaris to Costa Rican taxa is uncertain. A mandibular sulcus is found on both lunaris and panamensis. Emery's illustrations and Wild's images of lunaris suggest a narrower petiole than Costa Rican material of panamensis.

Literature Cited

Emery, C. 1896. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. XVII-XXV. Bullettino della Societˆ Entomologica Italiana 28:33-107.

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

Kempf, W. W. 1960. Miscellaneous studies on Neotropical ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Studia Entomologica (n.s.)3:417-466.

Smith, F. 1858. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum (Natural History), 216 p.

Wild, A. L. 2002. The genus Pachycondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Paraguay. Bolet’n del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural del Paraguay 14: 1-18.

Page author:

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

Date of this version: 27 April 2006.
Previous versions of this page: 3 April 1999, 27 January 2003
Go back to top

Go to Ants of Costa Rica Homepage