Dolichoderus lamellosus (Mayr 1870)

Dolichoderinae, Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker lateral view

worker dorsal view

worker face view


Guatemala to northern Argentina. Costa Rica: scattered localities including La Selva Biological Station, Santa Rosa National Park, Monteverde area.


Color black with some orange on the legs; generally devoid of erect setae; mesonotum in dorsal view wider than long.

Similar species: laminatus.

Natural History

From MacKay 1993:

Swain (1977) reported on the biology of this species. These ants are often found on trunks and in canopies of tropical trees, especially mango trees, and are often together with workers of D. bispinosus. Workers are primarily active at night. They seem to be most common in riparian sites and areas with waterlogged soils where few other ant species occur. Nests are found in and under bark of trees (Lattke, 1986), especially of caracolÁ (Anacardium excellsum, pers. obs.), and in hollow stems, at a height of 0.5 - 25 meters. The nest may be constructed of fine carton. Nests are apparently monogynous and populations are not known to exceed 80 workers. They also nest in bromeliads, among roots of orchids and in abandoned moth cocoons, often together with D. bispinosus. Works move rapidly, but are relatively non-aggressive when disturbed and dedicate themselves to rescue brood instead of defend the nest. Workers do not produce a dolichoderine odor. Females are attracted to lights. [MacKay Literature Cited]

The species is a low density element of the La Selva canopy fauna, and D. bispinosus does not occur there, so any association with bispinosus is facultative.

I have observed nests of lamellosus twice. Once was in the dry forest habitat of Santa Rosa National Park. I was collecting at night along the nature trail near the Casona. I found a very cryptic nest in an elliptical depression in a broad tree trunk (Fig. 1). The nest was about 10cm long and completely covered with a smooth expanse of fine carton construction. I spotted the nest because an aggregation of workers and a few alate queens were standing on the outer surface of the carton, possibly due to a nuptial flight. Inside the nest there were some larger brood and workers but no small brood or queen, suggesting that this was just a colony fragment and more were nesting elsewhere. The second nest was in the Santa Marta area of Colombia, where workers and brood were scattered throughout an abandoned termite nest in the fork of a small tree.

Figure 1. Nest of Dolichoderus lamellosus observed at Santa Rosa National Park, 13 July 1985. Images by J. Longino.

Page author:

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

Date of this version: 8 March 2003.
Previous versions of this page:
Go back to top

Go to Ants of Costa Rica Homepage