Wasmannia iheringi Forel 1908

Myrmicinae, Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker lateral view

Images of syntype worker, queen: click here.

Images of Costa Rican queen: face view, lateral view.


Brazil (ES, type locality), Peru, Costa Rica. Costa Rica: Atlantic lowlands to 600m.


Petiole with long peduncle and non-quadrate node; propodeal spines long; mesosoma elongate; gaster lacking erect setae (the queen has setae on the gaster).

Natural History

This species inhabits the canopy of lowland rainforest. The type specimens were collected in Espirito Santo, Brazil, in a small nest of fine carton on a Cecropia leaf. Surprisingly, this species was later discovered in Costa Rica, where it inhabits the canopy of lowland rainforest on the Atlantic slope. Morphologically the Costa Rican specimens are identical to the types. It has been collected at La Selva Biological Station, at 500m elevation on the Barva Transect, and at the old Carrillo station at 600m in Braulio Carrillo National Park. The quantitative sampling by the ALAS project shows it to be a moderately abundant component of the arboreal fauna at La Selva, very rare at 500m, and absent by 1000m elevation.

One nest has been observed by JTL, at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica (where the "swamp trail" crosses El Salto). The nest was on the undersurface of a single leaf of a fuzzy-leaved Guarea growing along a stream. A 2cm long felt-like carton roof covered a portion of the leaf between two veins (figure). The nest contained 27 adult workers, one dealate queen, four adult males, and brood of various sizes. This observation is similar to the type collection from southeastern Brazil, suggesting a specialized nesting behavior that is the same in both Costa Rica and southeastern Brazil.

On another occasion at La Selva the species was observed in a patch of old second growth forest comprised of medium to large trees over abandoned cacao. A small patch was being felled for an experiment at La Selva and collecting was carried out in these newly-felled trees. A dense aggregation of workers and two dealate queens were found on a branch of a felled Coussapoa, suggesting that colonies can be polygynous.

Alate queens were collected at blacklights at La Selva in October 1991.

We have also examined workers in Erwin's fogging samples from Tambopata, Peru. The species is now known from three widely separated localities, but it is unknown whether these are disjunct populations or a result of undersampling in intervening regions.


Prior to Longino and Fernandez (2007) W. iheringi was known only from the type specimens. Forel's description and specimen labels indicate the specimens were collected in São Paulo by von Ihering. The types also bear a pencil label with "2265." Luederwaldt (1926) referred to W. iheringi, stating "Mr. E. Garbe found in Espirito Santo a small nest, constructed of fine carton ["serragem fina"], on a leaf of Cecropia. N. 2.265." Given the match of the collection numbers we assume these represent a single collection. We also presume Luederwaldt's locality data (Espirito Santo) are more accurate than Forel's (São Paulo). Kempf (1972) lists only the type locality for the range of W. iheringi, suggesting it remained known only from the types at the time of his Neotropical catalogue.

Literature Cited

Forel, A. 1908. Ameisen aus São Paulo (Brasilien), Paraguay etc. gesammelt von Prof. Herm. v. Ihering, Dr. Lutz, Dr. Fiebrig, etc. Verhandlungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Zoologisch-Botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 58:340-418.

Kempf, W. W. 1972. Catálogo abreviado das formigas da Região Neotropical. Studia Entomologica 15:3-344.

Longino, J. T., and F. Fernández C. 2007. A taxonomic review of the genus Wasmannia. Pages 271-289 in R. R. Snelling, B. L. Fisher, and P. S. Ward, editors. Advances In Ant Systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Homage To E. O. Wilson ­ 50 Years Of Contributions. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute, 80.

Luederwaldt, H. 1926. Observações biologicas sobre formigas brasileiras especialmente do estado de São Paulo. Revista do Museu Paulista 14:185-303.

Page authors:

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

Fernando Fernández, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Apartado 7495, Bogotá D.C., COLOMBIA

Date of this version: 26 September 2007.
Previous versions of this page: 22 March 2003
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