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Carebara of Costa Rica

Fernando Fernández (2002, 2004) recently revised this relatively small group of tiny ants. They are all small, cryptic ants of soil and leaf litter. Taxonomically it is a heterogenous group, and different portions of it have been placed in various genera. The largest and most conspicuous species are in a group that used to be placed in the genus Erebomyrma (for example, Hölldobler and Wilson 1990 recognized Erebomyrma). Erebomyrma was synonymized under Oligomyrmex, and for many years most New World species were placed in Oligomyrmex. A few of the tiniest species were placed in the genus Paedalgus (Fernández 2002). Fernández's recent revision places Erebomyrma, Oligomyrmex, and Paedalgus all as junior synonyms of Carebara.

Some of the species groups of Carebara have a distinct soldier caste and others are monomorphic. Minor workers are relatively common in Winkler samples but I very rarely get soldiers. Obtaining soldiers usually requires excavation of a nest, deep in soil or rotten wood. Thus, unlike many Pheidole, the soldiers do not seem to forage with minor workers outside the nest.

Very little is known of the biology of Carebara. Some species have been observed close to the nests of other ant species, and thus they are reputed to be "lestobiotic," but I do not know if there are any well-documented observations.

In Costa Rica, the most common species by far is Carebara urichi. This is a species for which literature references can get disconnected and lost in the taxonomic shuffle, because the Costa Rican version of it has gone under multiple names. It was Erebomyrma nevermanni for a while, then Oligomyrmex nevermanni, and now both genus and species have changed because Oligomyrmex was synonymized under Carebara and C. nevermanni was synonymized under C. urichi.

Literature Cited

Fernández C., F. 2002. First record of the myrmicine ant genus Paedalgus Forel, 1911 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the Western Hemisphere. Entomotropica 17:181-182.

Fernández C., F. 2004. The American species of the myrmicine ant genus Carebara Westwood (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Caldasia 26:191-238.

Hölldobler, B., and E. O. Wilson. 1990. The Ants. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Page author: John T. Longino longinoj@evergreen.edu

Date of this version: 20 September 2004.
Previous versions of this page: 18 March 2003.

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