Cephalotes minutus (Fabricius 1804)

Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker dorsal view

worker face view

worker dorsal view

major face view

major lateral view

Major dorsal view (reduced, original).

Line drawings of minor worker dorsal view, major worker dorsal view, from Kempf (1951).


Mainland Neotropics from Mexico to Argentina (Andrade and Baroni Urbani 1999). Costa Rica: common throughout the lowlands, both dry and wet forest habitats.


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 margins of pronotum with spines; dorsal and posterior faces of propodeum differentiated; dorsal and anterior faces of petiole differentiated; posterolateral propodeal spines longer than anterolateral spines; frontal carinae yellow, sharply differentiated from black face.

Major worker: eyes situated behind the scrobe, which terminates in front of the eye; head lacking a cephalic disk; propodeum with lateral spines, lacking foliaceous crest; in dorsal view, pronotum less than twice as wide as propodeum; anterior face of pronotum dull, not strongly shining; mandibles smoothly rounded, without differentiated lateral face and without projecting tubercle where dorsal surface meets frontal carina.

Natural History

This is one of the most common species of Cephalotes. It is extremely generalized in its habitat preferences and can be found in the canopy of primary rainforest, in secondgrowth vegetation of all ages, in tropical dry forest, in scrubby roadside vegetation, and in mangroves. It appears to nest exclusively in dead stems; I have never found a nest in a live stem. I have seen nests in dead stems of all sizes, down to 3mm diameter. I sometimes find nests with no queen, which suggests that the species can be polydomous. When I do find queens, they are founding alone, or occur as the single queen in nests, suggesting monogyny.

For one nest I made a count of the entire contents. The nest was in a dead stem, outside dia. 5mm, inside dia. 3.5mm, 52cm long. There were 146 adult minors, 27 adult majors (majors and minors grade into each other to some extent), 16 callows, 57 pupae, 15 semipupae, and 30 larger larvae. The larvae were amber-colored; the semipupae were white.

Type Data

Cryptocerus minutus Fabricius 1804:420. Syntype worker: "America Meridionali" [Essequibo, Guyana] [ZMUC].

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.

Fabricius, J. C. 1804. Systema Piezatorum secundum ordines, genera, species, adjectis synonymis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus. Brunswick: C. Reichard, xiv + 15-439 + 30 pp.

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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