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The genus Probolomyrmex in Costa Rica

The genus Probolomyrmex occurs in each of the major tropical areas of the world: the Americas, Africa, and Indo-Australia (Taylor 1965, Brown 1975, Agosti 1994). It is everywhere extremely rare, or at least very difficult to collect. The few known collections are usually individual workers obtained in Winkler or Berlese samples of leaf litter and soil. The few nests that have been observed have been in rotten wood on the ground in rainforest sites, or in the case of Australia, under stones in drier forest types. Almost nothing is known of their foraging habits. Taylor (1965) observed a captive colony of P. boliviensis; his observations are available on the boliviensis page.

Probolomyrmex is one of those genera that could be more common than we think. Its elongate body form and eyelessness suggest an ant that lives entirely beneath the soil, and the soil fauna is notoriously difficult to collect. In addition, they may prefer relatively drier soils in open areas or seasonally dry habitats, rather than than wet, shaded soils of mature rainforest. There have been two collections from Costa Rica, one specimen of boliviensis from a pitfall trap in an oil palm plantation, and two specimens of guanacastensis from seasonal dry forest in Guanacaste Province. None have come from the wet forest habitats of La Selva biological station, in spite of intensive collecting effort there.

Species known from Costa Rica:

Probolomyrmex boliviensis Mann 1923.

Probolomyrmex guanacastensis O'Keefe and Agosti 1997.

Literature Cited

Agosti, D. 1995 ("1994"). A revision of the South American species of the ant genus Probolomyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 102:429-434.

Brown, W. L., Jr. 1975. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. V. Ponerinae, tribes Platythyreini, Cerapachyini, Cylindromyrmecini, Acanthostichini, and Aenictogitini. Search Agri., Entomol. (Ithaca) 5:1-115.

O'Keefe, S. T., and D. Agosti. 1997. A new species of Probolomyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Guanacaste, Costa Rica. J. New York Ent. Soc. 105:190-192.

Taylor, R. W. 1965. A monographic revision of the rare tropicopolitan ant genus Probolomyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Trans. R. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 117:345-365.

Page author:

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

Date of this version: 13 October 2000
Previous versions of this page: 1 June 1999
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