Cephalotes cristatus (Emery 1890)

Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker dorsal view

major face view

major lateral view

Major dorsal view (reduced, original).

Line drawing of worker dorsal view, from Kempf (1951).


Mexico to Costa Rica, Colombia. Costa Rica: widespread in Atlantic lowlands, Central Valley, Cordillera de Tilaran (Pacific slope near Monteverde).


Minor worker: eyes situated behind the scrobe, which terminates in front of the eye; lateral border of head convex and upturned above eye, without a rounded excision; lateral margins of propodeum with distinct projecting spines; anterolateral pronotal lobes subrectangular, strap-shaped, longer than wide; propodeum forming a single, shallow convexity, not differentiated into dorsal and posterior faces; petiole similarly lacking differentiated dorsal and anterior faces; anterolateral propodeal spine longer than posterolateral spine.

Major worker: eyes situated behind the scrobe, which terminates in front of the eye; face with weakly developed cephalic disk; propodeum with lateral spines, lacking foliaceous crest; in dorsal view, pronotum transversely elongate, much broader than long, about twice as wide as propodeum.

Natural History

This species inhabits the canopy of wet to moist forest. I most often encounter it as workers on treetrunks, in recent treefalls, and in canopy fogging samples. The few nest collections I have seen are all from live stems. One was at La Selva Biological Station, from a patch of old secondgrowth forest that was being felled for a research project. The nest was in the live stems of a broken branch. The stems had very soft pith. I did not identify the branch, but I think it was a legume. A second nest collection was from near Rara Avis, from a Cecropia sapling internode. A third nest was from moist forest below Monteverde, in live stems of the ant-plant Triplaris melaenodendron. This tree had not only the cristatus nest, but also nests of Crematogaster, Camponotus, and Pseudomyrmex.

Given the common occurrence of workers in the crowns of many species of trees, it is clear that cristatus is not a specialist on ant-plants or any particular plant species. It is a generalist occupant of live stems, and can be found opportunistically using ant-plants.

Type Data

Cryptocerus cristatus Emery 1890:72. Syntype worker, soldier, queen: Costa Rica, Alajuela and Jimenez (Alfaro) [MCSN, MHNG].

Literature Cited

Andrade, M. L. de, and C. Baroni Urbani. 1999. Diversity and adaptation in the ant genus Cephalotes, past and present (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Stuttgarter Beitrage zur Naturkunde Serie B (Geologie und Palaontologie) 271:1-889.

Emery, C. 1890. Studii sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 22:38-80.

Kempf, W. W. 1951. A taxonomic study on the ant tribe Cephalotini (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Rev. Entomol. (Rio J.) 22:1-244.

Page author:

John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.longinoj@evergreen.edu

Date of this version: 27 June 2000
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