Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia
Costa Rica (Monteverde).
Face reticulate rugose, with one pair of erect setae near middle of face; mesosomal and gastral dorsa completely lacking erect setae; color orange; HW 0.77 (n=1).
The genus Octostruma is known only from the New World tropics, from southern Mexico and the West Indies to northern Argentina (Brown and Kempf 1960). It is a part of the "cryptobiotic" fauna: small, slow-moving ants that live in rotten wood and leaf litter. The very similar genus Eurhopalothrix is known to be predaceous on small, soft-bodied arthropods (Brown and Kempf 1960, Wilson 1956, Wilson and Brown 1985).
Workers and nests are extremely difficult to see in the field. Some species camouflage themselves with layers of soil (Hoelldobler and Wilson 1986). As a result of their cryptic nature, they were considered extremely rare until the 1960's. But increasing use of Winkler and Berlese sampling has shown Octostruma to be relatively common. I encounter them in most Winkler samples from wet forest sites in Costa Rica.
I know this species from one Winkler sample, Monteverde cloud forest at 1560m elevation.
Brown, W. L., Jr., Kempf, W. W. 1960. A world revision of the ant tribe Basicerotini. Stud. Entomol. (n.s.) 3:161-250.
Hoelldobler, B., Wilson, E. O. 1986. Soil-binding pilosity and camouflage in ants of the tribes Basicerotini and Stegomyrmecini (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Zoomorphology (Berl.) 106:12-20.
Wilson, E. O. 1956. Feeding behavior in the ant Rhopalothrix biroi Szabo. Psyche (Camb.) 63:21-23.
Wilson, E. O., Brown, W. L., Jr. 1985 ("1984"). Behavior of the cryptobiotic predaceous ant Eurhopalothrix heliscata, n. sp. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Basicerotini). Insectes Soc. 31:408-428.
John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.email@example.com
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