Acanthoponera minor

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Acanthoponera minor
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ectatomminae
Tribe: Heteroponerini
Genus: Acanthoponera
Species: A. minor
Binomial name
Acanthoponera minor
(Forel, 1899)



Specimen Label


Longino (Ants of Costa Rica) - A. minor appears to be a ubiquitous inhabitant of lowland wet forest throughout Costa Rica. The species is not restricted to wet forest, because I once observed foragers to be abundant in a small pasture with scattered guava trees. The pasture was adjacent to a forest patch, so I do not know if the species requires forest as a source area. Almost the only way I ever see this species is as workers and queens scattered sparsely on low vegetation at night. At La Selva, they have been collected in dawn canopy fogging events and in Malaise traps. From these observations I conclude: (1) both workers and queens forage, (2) foraging is solitary, and (3) foraging is almost entirely nocturnal. Foragers are furtive when illuminated at night, and thus it is very difficult to follow foragers back to a nest. I observed one nest entrance at Corcovado: a small clay turret extending 1-2cm up the side of an erect plant stem.


Brown (1958) described the now synonomized Acanthoponera crassa and his notes about how these differ from minor provides details about morphological variation within this species: Considered as belonging to Acanthoponera crassa is a short series of workers [USNM, MCZ] from Hamburg Farm, Santa Clara Prov., Costa Rica, February 26, 1925 (F. Nevermann leg.). The MCZ specimen measures HL 1.19, HW excluding eyes 1.03 mm. (CI 87). The color is much lighter than in the type series, being bright ferruginous yellow, and the occipital angles are somewhat more abruptly rounded; transverse part of occipital border broader than in type, concave in middle. Eyes a little larger, propodeal teeth shorter and feebly bent in side view, and the posterapical petiolar teeth flattened and only slightly deflected dorsad.

In color and head shape, the Costa Rican samples are somewhat intermediate, tending toward minor, but in the characters of total size, metanotal groove and petiolar thickness and form, they are clearly related to crassa. The differences from minor could possibly represent geographical variation; but the known distribution of minor and crassa does not support this very well.


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 18.6255° to -1.849998°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico (type locality), Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.




Images from AntWeb

Acanthoponera minor casent0178699 head 1.jpgAcanthoponera minor casent0178699 profile 1.jpgAcanthoponera minor casent0178699 dorsal 1.jpgAcanthoponera minor casent0178699 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0178699. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MIZA, Maracay, Venezuela.
Acanthoponera minor castype06888 head 1.jpgAcanthoponera minor castype06888 profile 1.jpgAcanthoponera minor castype06888 dorsal 1.jpgAcanthoponera minor castype06888 label 1.jpg
Holotype of Acanthoponera crassaWorker. Specimen code castype06888. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Acanthoponera minor casent0039772 head 1.jpgAcanthoponera minor casent0039772 profile 1.jpgAcanthoponera minor casent0039772 profile 2.jpgAcanthoponera minor casent0039772 dorsal 1.jpgAcanthoponera minor casent0039772 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0039772. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • minor. Ectatomma (Acanthoponera) mucronatum var. minor Forel, 1899c: 9 (w.) MEXICO (Tabasco).
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: Mexico: Tabasco, Teapa (H.H. Smith) .
    • Type-depository: MHNG.
    • [Acanthoponera minor Emery, 1896g: 33. Nomen nudum (attributed to Forel).]
    • Combination in Acanthoponera: Emery, 1911d: 36.
    • Subspecies of mucronata: Emery, 1911d: 36; Wheeler, W.M. 1923e: 189.
    • Status as species: Brown, 1958g: 194; Kempf & Brown, 1968: 89; Kempf, 1972a: 9; Fernández, 1993: 251; Bolton, 1995b: 54; Arias-Penna & Fernández, 2008: 112; Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012: 256; Feitosa & Prada-Achiardi, 2019: 675.
    • Senior synonym of crassa: Kempf & Brown, 1968: 90; Kempf, 1972a: 9; Bolton, 1995b: 54.
    • Senior synonym of schwarzi: Brown, 1958g: 194; Kempf, 1972a: 9; Bolton, 1995b: 54.
    • Senior synonym of spininodis: Brown, 1958g: 194; Kempf, 1972a: 9; Bolton, 1995b: 54.
    • Distribution: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Trinidad.
  • crassa. Acanthoponera crassa Brown, 1958g: 255, fig. 10 (w.) ECUADOR, COSTA RICA.
    • Type-material: holotype worker, 3 paratype workers.
    • Type-locality: holotype Ecuador: Pichincha, Santo Domingo de los Colorados, 23.ii.1955 (E.S. Ross & E.I. Schlinger); paratypes with same data .
    • Type-depositories: CASC (holotype); CASC, MCZC (paratypes).
    • Junior synonym of minor: Kempf & Brown, 1968: 90; Kempf, 1972a: 9; Bolton, 1995b: 53.
  • schwarzi. Acanthoponera goeldii subsp. schwarzi Wheeler, W.M. 1923e: 188, fig. 5 (w.) GUATEMALA.
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: Guatemala: Alta Vera Paz, Trece Aguas (E.A. Schwarz & H.S. Barber).
    • Type-depository: MCZC.
    • Junior synonym of minor: Brown, 1958g: 194; Kempf, 1972a: 9; Bolton, 1995b: 54.
  • spininodis. Acanthoponera (Acanthoponera) spininodis Weber, 1939a: 97, fig. 2 (w.) TRINIDAD.
    • Type-material: 2 syntype workers.
    • Type-locality: Trinidad: El Tucuché summit (3072 ft), 15.xii.1934 (N.A. Weber) .
    • Type-depository: MCZC.
    • Junior synonym of minor: Brown, 1958g: 194; Kempf, 1972a: 9; Bolton, 1995b: 54.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.


Brown (1958), for the synonymized Acanthoponera crassa - Holotype worker: TL 6.2, HL 1.24, HW excluding eyes 1.07 (Cr 86), greatest diameter of eye 0.30, scape L 0.85, WL 1.82 mm.

Similar to Acanthoponera minor, but a little larger. Head narrowing from a point in front of eyes toward occiput, narrowest, and sides sloping inward, behind eyes near the much-rounded occipital corners; occipital margin short, median section straight, or even feebly convex. Median pronotal eminence low, but better developed than in other species of the genus. Metanotal groove distinct, broad and rather deep. Propodeal spines (L ca. 0.35 mm.) straight and obliquely elevated as seen from the side; diverging, with tips feebly curved mesad as seen from above. Petiolar node thicker than in minor, its posterapical tooth deflected more or less dorsad. Gaster very much like that of minor in general form, but slightly larger.

Sculpture in general a little coarser on head, alitrunk and node than in minor, the interspaces larger and shining. Pronotal rugules forming a V around the median eminence. Gaster smooth, shining, with abundant fine, separated punctulae, giving rise to dense, reclinate golden-brown pubescence. Longer fine erect hairs abundant.

Body color orange-brown, legs more yellowish.

Type Material

Brown (1958), Acanthoponera crassa - Holotype California Academy of Sciences one of a series of 4 workers taken 6 miles west of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, Pichincha, Ecuador, February 23, 1955 (E. S. Ross and E. I. Schlinger leg.). The remaining three workers are paratypes CAS, Museum of Comparative Zoology. HL 1.22-1.25 mm., CI 87-89.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Arias-Penna T. M., and F. Fernández. 2008. Subfamilia Heteroponerinae. Pp. 109-117 in: Jiménez, E.; Fernández, F.; Arias, T.M.; Lozano-Zambrano, F. H. (eds.) 2008. Sistemática, biogeografía y conservación de las hormigas cazadoras de Colombia. Bogotá: Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, xiv + 609 pp.
  • Brown W. L., Jr. 1958. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. II. Tribe Ectatommini (Hymenoptera). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 118: 173-362.
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Del Toro, I., M. Vázquez, W.P. Mackay, P. Rojas and R. Zapata-Mata. Hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de Tabasco: explorando la diversidad de la mirmecofauna en las selvas tropicales de baja altitud. Dugesiana 16(1):1-14.
  • Donoso David. Personal communication. Ants of Barro Colorado Island.
  • Emery C. 1896. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. XVII-XXV. Bullettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 28: 33-107.
  • Feitosa dos Santos Machado R. 2011. Revisao taxonomica e analise filogenetica de Heteroponerinae (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). PhD thesis Universidade de Sao Paulo. 311 pages.
  • Fernandes, P.R. XXXX. Los hormigas del suelo en Mexico: Diversidad, distribucion e importancia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).
  • Fernández F. 1993. Hormigas de Colombia III: los géneros Acanthoponera Mayr, Heteroponera Mayr y Paraponera Fr. Smith (Formicidae: Ponerinae: Ectatommini). Caldasia 17: 249-258.
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • INBio Collection (via Gbif)
  • Jeanne R. J. 1979. A latitudinal gradient in rates of ant predation. Ecology 60(6): 1211-1224.
  • Kempf W. W., and W. L. Jr. Brown. 1968. Report on some Neotropical ant studies. Papeis Avulsos de Zoologia (São Paulo) 22: 89-102.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Longino J. T. L., and M. G. Branstetter. 2018. The truncated bell: an enigmatic but pervasive elevational diversity pattern in Middle American ants. Ecography 41: 1-12.
  • Longino J. T., J. Coddington, and R. K. Colwell. 2002. The ant fauna of a tropical rain forest: estimating species richness three different ways. Ecology 83: 689-702.
  • Longino J. T., and R. K. Colwell. 2011. Density compensation, species composition, and richness of ants on a neotropical elevational gradient. Ecosphere 2(3): 16pp.
  • Longino J. et al. ADMAC project. Accessed on March 24th 2017 at
  • Longino, J.T. 2010. Personal Communication. Longino Collection Database
  • Maes, J.-M. and W.P. MacKay. 1993. Catalogo de las hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de Nicaragua. Revista Nicaraguense de Entomologia 23.
  • Scott-Santos, C.P., F.A. Esteves, C.R.F. Brandao. 2008. Catalogue of "Poneromorph" ant type specimens (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) deposited in the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Papeis Avulsos de Zoologia 48(11):75-88.
  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133
  • Weber N. A. 1939. New ants of rare genera and a new genus of ponerine ants. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 32: 91-104.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1923. Ants of the genera Myopias and Acanthoponera. Psyche (Cambridge) 30: 175-192.