Probolomyrmex boliviensis Mann 1923

Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker lateral view

worker face view


Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia (Agosti 1995).


Sculpture with large pits with chagrination in between; first gastral segment ventro-anterior with a distinct collar which is bent ventrally; head with a distinct carina along the posterior ventral face (O'Keefe and Agosti 1997).

The one Costa Rican specimen I have seen has measurements WL 0.977mm, HL 0.714, HW 0.436, SL 0.509, CI 61, SI 117, and keys to boliviensis in O'Keefe and Agosti (1997).

Natural History

Taylor (1965) captured a live colony on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, and published the following notes:

My Barro Colorado accession originally consisted of 22 workers, 7 queens (4 alate), 11 pupae (9 worker, 2 male), 2 pharate pupae and 6 larvae of various instars. These were collected from an old beetle gallery in a fairly sound, dry portion of a rotting branch about 30 cm. long and 8-10 cm. in diameter, lying on the floor of primary rainforest. The ants were in a single group occupying almost 3 cm. of the gallery, which was about 6-10 mm. in diameter. An aspirator device was used for collection, and it is presumed that the whole colony, excluding foragers, was taken. One of the queens was more worn than the others and appeared to be the 'mother-queen' of the colony. The specimens were immediately placed in a glass-topped plaster-of-Paris observation cell, in which they survived for six days until the death of the queen and the larvae disrupted their behaviour. A number of eggs were accumulated during this period, at least two of them being laid by the queen. One worker completed its development while under observation.

Various small soil arthropods including assorted Collembola, Symphyla, small immature spiders, larval and adult ants, Diptera, Coleoptera and termites at all stages were placed in the nest from time to time. None of these organisms were attacked or accepted as food; indeed, the ants usually retreated hurriedly with their brood when confronted by other animals.

The larvae and pharate pupae, still enclosed in larval cuticles, were not placed by the nurse workers on the nest floor, but were attached to the plaster walls or glass ceiling of the brood chamber by the peculiar terminal abdominal suspensory tubercles described above, so as to hang head downwards. Eggs and pupae were normally placed on the floor of the brood chamber, but under most conditions they too were attached to the nest ceiling, presumably being held there by the surface tension forces of the moisture film on the glass. Pupae were invariably placed with the frontal region of the head adherent to the ceiling, and the eggs were attached either directly to the ceiling, or to the bodies of larvae or pupae.

The workers were very active and 'excitable', being reminiscent of Leptogenys or Platythyrea in this regard. They ran quite rapidly and 'nervously' when disturbed and, even when settled, were constantly active, grooming themselves and their partners. The larvae were assiduously attended and were almost constantly being licked by one or more of the workers. The suspended brood was usually placed immediately above the main adult cluster, the nurse workers moving on to the ceiling to attend to the larvae.

Workers were not observed transporting their fellows, but the queen was carried about 5 cm. in the jaws of a worker on one occasion. She lay in a pupal posture and was held by the frontal part of the head, lying ventral side uppermost along the underside of the transporting worker. Pupae were always normally carried in this way, although they were sometimes dragged by the legs or antennae when being positioned by nurse workers. The larvae were always carried along the underside of transporting workers and were invariably gripped about the neck of the terminal abdominal suspensory tubercle. This mode of grasping the larvae appeared to facilitate their placement on the nest ceiling by the workers. The newly emerged workers are highly callow, and apparently take about 5 days to attain full coloration.

I know of only one collection of Probolomyrmex boliviensis from Costa Rica, with the following data:

Prov. Limon: Guapiles, 1013'N, 8347'W, palmito plantation, 28 Apr 1996 (coll. R. Matlock).

Type Data

Probolomyrmex boliviensis Mann 1923:16. Syntype queen: Bolivia, La Paz: Rurrenabaque.

Literature Cited

Agosti, D. 1995 ("1994"). A revision of the South American species of the ant genus Probolomyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 102:429-434.

Mann, W. M. 1923. Two new ants from Bolivia. (Results of the Mulford Biological Exploration. - Entomology.). Psyche (Camb.) 30:13-18.

O'Keefe, S. T., and D. Agosti. 1997. A new species of Probolomyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Guanacaste, Costa Rica. J. New York Ent. Soc. 105:190-192.

Taylor, R. W. 1965. A monographic revision of the rare tropicopolitan ant genus Probolomyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Trans. R. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 117:345-365.

Page author:

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

Date of this version: 14 October 2000
Previous versions of this page: 1 June 1999
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