Prionopelta amabilis queen

IMG_1371 IMG_1370I found this specimen right in front of me while I was eating breakfast at La Selva.

Acanthognathus teleductus

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IMG_1366 IMG_1367

Hypoponera sp.

I found this worker in my sample bag several days ago, but when I tired to ID it things didn’t make sense. The key I was using relied heavily on measurement data and where it lead me didn’t make sense.

IMG_1351Then I saw the top of its head where three ocelli were. I still haven’t identified it fully yet but I thought I would share this morphological quirk.IMG_1352

Progress…

IMG_1346~8%

Some cool ones so far:
Acanthognathus teledectus
Prionopelta amabilis
Carebara unichi
Hylomyrma dentiloba
Lachnomyrmex scrobiculatus

Hylomyrma and I have a shitty camera

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Hylomyrma dentiloba. Such a chunky mesosoma.

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The mandibles really remind me of the genus Gnamptogenys. Would it be possible to look at census data and do some kind of stat test to look at frequency of co-occurrence between the two genera, to test if they have similar predation? My camera really does not capture the beauty of the rugae.

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An odd feature on the gaster where the rugae almost abruptly ends.

Lachnomyrmex scrobiculatus

IMG_1325 GUnRs9TqwQKIA_400-ZD67_1dp0Z_Bw2Sts5mGPYpY0

Labidus coecus

Apparently Labidus coecus can come in two different color morphs; a reddish brown type that I only collected once and a black form which was very common. Or, perhaps the lighter worker has simply recently eclosed? I’m sure they are the same species as they both have the same defining feature that the key uses. The lighter morph worker was collected within a raid trail that had other workers of the color but, army ant brood is raised in cycles, so I’m left clueless.

 rfgIMG_1309 2 IMG_1312

Leptogenys

315316Leptogenys punctaticeps

I would see this species, or what I presumed to be this species approximately every week in my study site at La Selva.  I once observed a small colony of 8-10 workers moving in compact single file in the litter and over a log until disappearing into the litter. They were carrying 4 brood items, all of different developmental stages. No morphologically distinct members could be seem. If disturbed, foraging workers are very hard to catch as they run haphazardly and can “disappear” into the litter. Leptogenys in the neotropics is presumed to be an isopod specialist. Most species are nomadic and have a small colony size. For more information see Jack Longinos website here: http://academic.evergreen.edu/projects/ants/genera/leptogenys/home.html

317318Leptogenys josephi

This single worker was encountered crossing a dirt path.

Octostruma JTL-005

IMG_1185I had searched this location before and found many foraging Basicerotini workers. They were identified to be Octosruma JTL-005.  I came back here recently determined to find the nest, as little is known about their nesting biology. A quick look under the leaf and stick revealed that the colony was active.IMG_1191I noticed two or three holes that workers would go in and out of. Not wanting to take any chances I gave them a killed isopod(?), and within a minute the scene above presented itself. After about another minute a worker picked it up and brought it down a hole.

IMG_1196I excavated that hole to find a large grouping of workers gathered, some around the isopod(?) and some around apparently nothing. This was quite easy as the workers didn’t react to me pulling back the soil. I was starting to wonder if these ants had an alarm pheromone. I counted three tunnels leading out of this chamber.IMG_1203Pulling back one of the tunnels caused workers and alates to “rush” out of the hole (these ants do not move fast even when distrubed, although the males did move quite fast).IMG_1207Quickly and carefully excavating the roof revealed this. a large chamber approx 2.5 cm in max width, filled with all stages of brood and more alates. I did not collect the colony so I can not say if this species is polygynous or not. The chamber was lined with these weird white specks on the walls.IMG_1211I continued to excavate and found 3 more dead end chambers with brood, workers and alates. When pulling apart tunnels I would see a Pheidole sp. dead or paralyzed, just laying in the tunnels, It looked similar to an active species on the log above. I found five Pheidole sp. workers like this. When excavating the nest chamber I would gather brood by accident too. Another Pheidole sp. found this and started to recruit and attack the Octostruma. I estimate the colony size to be around 300. The nest is near STR 250. Observations made on July 23, 2013 between 1:30pm and 4pm.

A takeover?

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The stem pictured above belongs to the genus Ocotea. This genus is an ant plant which normally hosts Myrmelachista sp. ants which nest inside the stem. Two months ago this tree was seen with its normal ant inhabitants. The ant pictured above is not a formicine but rather a myrmicine: Wasmannia scrobifera. The mutualist Myrmelachista ants will defend the host tree from herbivorous insects and other plants while other ants (such as the one pictured above), which just use the hollowed out stems, will not

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