Formicinae, Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia
Honduras to Colombia. Costa Rica: Atlantic and southern Pacific lowlands.
Scapes and legs with abundant erect setae; eyes strongly protruding from sides of head; propodeum, meso and metathorax highly fused, sutures very weak, forming a single unit that articulates with the prothorax; dorsal profile with dorsal and posterior faces of propodeum not differentiated; propodeum strongly laterally compressed, tectiform; back of head rounded, with no vertex collar or neck; appressed pubescence on first gastral tergite abundant, dense.
Major worker absent.
Camponotus nitidior inhabits mature lowland rainforest. Workers are most often encountered as isolated foragers, day or night. Like Camponotus in general, they appear to be generalized scavengers with a predilection for sweets.
This species and its relative, C. chartifex, build nests of sewn-together leaves (Wilson 1981, Fernández 2002). They use larval silk to attach leaves together and to make silk sheets and baffles. The nest walls are a combination of leaves and silk sheets. The silk sheets and baffles are a combination of silk and masticated plant fibers.
I have collected nests of C. nitidior on several occasions. They can be hidden between multiple leaves sewn together, or exposed as a carton nest on the undersurface of a single leaf. At Sirena in Corcovado National Park I found a nest between two leaves of Faramea (Rubiaceae). Many of the workers escaped during collection, but the portion I captured contained two alate queens, 14 workers, 5 alate males, and brood.
At La Selva Biological Station I found a carton nest beneath a leaf of Guateria (Annonaceae). I collected the entire nest into a plastic bag. There were no other nests that I could find on the tree or surrounding vegetation, so the nest was either the entire colony or one nest of a highly dispersed polydomous colony. In the lab I counted the entire nest contents and found 32 workers and one adult male. Thus the nest appeared to be queenless, because there was no chance for queen escape during collection. The nest contained three Microdon syrphid larvae of different sizes (Figure 1). The largest pupated soon after nest capture, the second largest pupated several days later at a smaller size. The smallest larva was preserved in alcohol. The smaller pupa died, but an adult syrphid emerged from the larger pupa.
Figure 1. Carton nest of Camponotus nitidior with Microdon (Syrphidae) larvae and pupae. J. Longino collection #3363.
The subgenus Dendromyrmex has been revised by Fernández (2002).
Fernández C., F. 2002. Revisión de las hormigas Camponotus subgénero Dendromyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia, Sao Paulo 42:47-101.
Wilson, E. O. 1981. Communal silk-spinning by larvae of Dendromyrmex tree-ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Sociaux 28:182-190.
John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.firstname.lastname@example.org
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