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Acromyrmex versicolor
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Acromyrmex
Mayr, 1865
Type species
Formica hystrix, now Acromyrmex hystrix
62 species
(Species Checklist)

Acromyrmex versicolor casent0104036 profile 1.jpg

Acromyrmex versicolor

Acromyrmex versicolor casent0104036 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Evolutionary Relationships

Cyatta (1 species), Kalathomyrmex (1 species)

  (4 species)

  (2 species)

  (23 species)

  (21 species)

  (4 species)

  (49 species)

  (11 species)

  (1 species)

  (49 species)

  (49 species)

  (62 species)

  (19 species)

Based on Ward et al. (2014), Blaimer et al. (2018) and Li et al. (2018).

A genus of fungus growing ants. Primarily a Neotropical group, Acromyrmex occurs from the southern USA south to southern South America. They cultivate fungus within their nests and, like Atta, they are true leaf-cutters. Most Acromyrmex inhabit tropical forests, grasslands, and disturbed areas. Acromyrmex versicolor is atypical in that it is found in dry desert areas of the southwestern USA and northern Mexico.

At a Glance • Fungus Grower  


Photo Gallery

  • Acromyrmex worker covered in Pseudonocardia. These leafcutter ants use this bacteria to fight invasive fungus, that attack their fungus gardens. Photo by João Pedro Sá Medeiros.


The genus Acromyrmex occupies a morphological "middle ground" between the highly polymorphic genus Atta and the monomorphic genus Trachymyrmex. Acromyrmex is separated from Atta by the presence of 3 pairs of spines or teeth on the promesonotum (only 2 pairs in Atta), and from Trachymyrmex by the presence of spines or teeth on the promesonotum (rather than tubercles), by the absence of shallow antennal scrobes (often present in Trachymyrmex), and its polymorphic worker caste (monomorphic in Trachymyrmex).

Keys including this Genus



Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


Longino (Ants of Costa Rica) - Acromyrmex species are true leaf cutters. Compared to Atta, they have a greater predilection for flowers and fruits. Their colonies are smaller (thousands of workers rather than millions), and foraging columns are usually single file and sparse. Their nests are usually in pre-formed cavities, and they do little excavating of their own.

Morphologically they are sandwiched between Atta and Trachymyrmex. Atta have very large colonies, strong worker size polymorphism, and a smooth gastral dorsum. Trachymyrmex have smaller colonies, usually smaller monomorphic workers, and a tuberculate gastral dorsum. Acromyrmex have intermediate colony sizes, strong worker polymorphism (but the major workers are not as highly differentiated as Atta majors), and the gaster is tuberculate. Single workers of Acromyrmex can be difficult to differentiate from Trachymyrmex in a key.

In Costa Rica there are few species of Acromyrmex. In lowland and seasonally dry habitats there are usually one or two forms of the Acromyrmex octospinosus species complex. In moist to wet montane areas Acromyrmex coronatus dominates.

Schultz et al. (1998) have discovered cryptic species in the A. octospinosus complex in Panama, and one should expect similar complexity to occur in Costa Rica. I recognize three species in the complex in Costa Rica (octospinosus, Acromyrmex echinatior, Acromyrmex volcanus), but the morphological basis for the distinctions is slight and some concentrated research on the group could easily redraw the species boundaries.

There is a large literature on Acromyrmex that is not reviewed or cited here.



Worker Morphology

 • Antennal segment count 11 • Antennal club gradual • Palp formula 4,2 • Total dental count 8-11 • Spur formula 0, 0 • Eyes present • Scrobes absent • Caste polymorphic


All Records for Genus

Taxon Haploid Diploid Karyotype Locality Source Notes
Acromyrmex ambiguus 38 2M+6SM+16ST+14A Uruguay Goñi et al., 1984
Acromyrmex aspersus 38 8M+10SM+16ST+4A Brazil Teixeira et al., 2017
Acromyrmex balzani 38 12M+10SM+14ST+2A Brazil Barros et al., 2016
Acromyrmex coronatus 19 38 12M+8SM+16ST+2A Brazil Barros et al., 2016
Acromyrmex crassispinus 38 Brazil Fadini & Pompolo, 1996
Acromyrmex disciger 38 10M+12SM+14ST+2A Brazil Barros et al., 2016
Acromyrmex echinatior 38 8M+6SM+14ST+10A Brazil Barros et al., 2016
Acromyrmex heyeri 38 2M+6SM+16ST+14A Brazil; Uruguay Goni et al., 1983; SantosColares et al., 1997
Acromyrmex hispidus 38 2M+6SM+16ST+14A Uruguay Goni et al., 1983
Acromyrmex niger 38 12M+14SM+10ST+2A Brazil Barros et al., 2016
Acromyrmex rugosus 38 16M+12SM+8ST+2A Brazil Barros et al., 2016
Acromyrmex striatus 11 22 20M+2SM Brazil Cristiano et al., 2013
Acromyrmex subterraneus 38 Brazil Fadini & Pompolo, 1996
Acromyrmex subterraneus molestans 38 10M+10SM+16ST+2A Brazil Fadini & Pompolo, 1996; Teixeira et al., 2017


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • ACROMYRMEX [Myrmicinae: Attini]
    • Acromyrmex Mayr, 1865: 83 [as subgenus of Atta]. Type-species: Formica hystrix, by monotypy.
    • Acromyrmex raised to genus: Emery, 1913b: 251.
    • Subgenera of Acromyrmex: nominal plus Moellerius.


  • Ashmead, W. H. 1905c. A skeleton of a new arrangement of the families, subfamilies, tribes and genera of the ants, or the superfamily Formicoidea. Can. Entomol. 37: 381-384 (page 384, Acromyrmex in Cryptoceridae, Attinae)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 197, Acromyrmex as genus of Attini)
  • Cherrett, J. M.; Cherrett, F. J. 1989. A bibliography of the leaf-cutting ants, Atta spp. and Acromyrmex spp., up to 1975. Overseas Dev. Nat. Resour. Inst. Bull. 14: 1-58 (page 1, Bibliography 1. Subgenera of Acromyrmex:nominal plus Moellerius)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 151, Acromyrmex as subgenus of Atta)
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 770, Acromyrmex in Myrmicinae, Attini; Acromyrmex as subgenus of Atta)
  • Emery, C. 1905f. Revisione delle specie del genere Atta appartenenti ai sottogeneri Moellerius e Acromyrmex. Mem. R. Accad. Sci. Ist. Bologna (6)2:39-54 (page 39, Acromyrmex as subgenus of Atta)
  • Emery, C. 1913c. Études sur les Myrmicinae. [V-VII.]. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 57: 250-262 (page 251, Acromyrmex raised to genus; Acromyrmex in Myrmicinae, Attini)
  • Emery, C. 1914e. Intorno alla classificazione dei Myrmicinae. Rend. Sess. R. Accad. Sci. Ist. Bologna Cl. Sci. Fis. (n.s.) 18: 29-42 (page 42, Acromyrmex in Myrmicinae, Attini)
  • Emery, C. 1924f [1922]. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [concl.]. Genera Insectorum 174C: 207-397 (page 347, Acromyrmex in Myrmicinae, Attini; Acromyrmex as genus)
  • Forel, A. 1885a [1884]. Études myrmécologiques en 1884 avec une description des organes sensoriels des antennes. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 20: 316-380 (page 354, Acromyrmex as subgenus of Atta)
  • Forel, A. 1893b. Sur la classification de la famille des Formicides, avec remarques synonymiques. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 37: 161-167 (page 163, Acromyrmex as subgenus of Atta)
  • Forel, A. 1899d. Formicidae. [part]. Biol. Cent.-Am. Hym. 3: 25-56 (page 30, Acromyrmex as subgenus of Atta)
  • Forel, A. 1913c. Fourmis de Nigérie. Rev. Zool. Afr. (Bruss.) 2: 352-353 (page 251, Acromyrmex divided into subgenera Acromyrmex Mayr and Moellerius Forel)
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 247, Acromyrmex in Myrmicinae, Attini; Acromyrmex as genus)
  • Fowler, H. G. 1988b. Taxa of the neotropical grass-cutting ants, Acromyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Attini). Científica (Jaboticabal) 16: 281-295 (page 284, Partial revision of genus)
  • Gonçalves, C. R. 1961. O genero Acromyrmex no Brasil (Hym. Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. 4: 113-180 (page 113, Revision of Brazilian fauna)
  • Mayr, G. 1865. Formicidae. In: Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte "Novara" um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859. Zoologischer Theil. Bd. II. Abt. 1. Wien: K. Gerold's Sohn, 119 pp. (page 83, Acromyrmex as subgenus of Atta)
  • Santschi, F. 1925a. Revision du genre Acromyrmex Mayr. Rev. Suisse Zool. 31: 355-398 (page 355, 388, Key to species (out of date); Acromyrmex as genus)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1907d. The fungus-growing ants of North America. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 23: 669-807 (page 670, Acromyrmex as subgenus of Atta)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 141, Acromyrmex as subgenus of Atta)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 669, Acromyrmex in Myrmicinae, Attini)