Brachymyrmex cavernicola Wheeler 1938

Formicinae, Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker lateral view


Mexico (type locality), Costa Rica. Costa Rica: Peņas Blancas, Maritza, Barva transect at 500m, La Selva, Hitoy Cerere.


Face, pronotum, mesonotum, and first gastral tergite covered with coarse black setae; color yellow, strongly contrasting with black setae; eyes very small.

Natural History

This species occurs in low to mid-elevation wet to moist forest habitats, where it appears to be completely subterranean. I have a few records of workers from Winkler and Berlese samples, but I more often collect it by finding nests under stones and in small galleries in clay soil. I do not know what an entire colony is like, but I did find a dealate queen in one nest.

This is a very atypical Brachymyrmex. The coarse black setae sprouting from the pale orange integument makes for a striking appearance. It looks like a cross between Brachymyrmex and some Paratrechina.

This species was previously known only from the types. The types were collected in Mexico, "in the Balaam Canche Cave, Chichen Itza, under a stone near the mouth." (Wheeler 1938). Wheeler included the species in a paper on cavernicolous ant species, but admitted that the line between truly cavernicolous ants and subterranean ants was not sharp (he referred to subterranean ants as "microcavernicolous"). It is clear that this species is not associated with caves in any special way.


I owe the identification of this species to John LaPolla, who compared the images on this page to type material at the USNM.

Literature Cited

Wheeler, W. M. 1938. Ants from the caves of Yucatan. Pp. 251-255 in: Pearse, A. S. Fauna of the caves of Yucatan. Carnegie Inst. Wash. Publ. 491:1-304.

Page author:

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

Date of this version: 31 March 2005.
Previous versions of this page: 14 July 2004
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