Atta saltensis

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Atta saltensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Atta
Species: A. saltensis
Binomial name
Atta saltensis
Forel, 1913

Atta saltensis casent0173814 profile 1.jpg

Atta saltensis casent0173814 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Evolutionary Relationships

Atta mexicana

Atta insularis

Atta texana

Atta cephalotes

Atta colombica

Atta robusta

Atta sexdens

Atta saltensis

Atta vollenweideri

Atta bisphaerica

Atta goiana

Atta laevigata

Atta capiguara

Atta opaciceps

Based on Barrera, C.A. et al., 2021. Note that only selected species are included.



Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -19.202778° to -31.632389°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina (type locality), Bolivia, Paraguay.

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.



Explore-icon.png Explore Fungus Growing 
For additional details see Fungus growing ants.

A handful of ant species (approx. 275 out of the known 15,000 species) have developed the ability to cultivate fungus within their nests. In most species the fungus is used as the sole food source for the larvae and is an important resource for the adults as well. Additionally, in a limited number of cases, the fungus is used to construct part of the nest structure but is not as a food source.

These fungus-feeding species are limited to North and South America, extending from the pine barrens of New Jersey, United States, in the north (Trachymyrmex septentrionalis) to the cold deserts in Argentina in the south (several species of Acromyrmex). Species that use fungi in nest construction are known from Europe and Africa (a few species in the genera Crematogaster, Lasius).

The details of fungal cultivation are rich and complex. First, a wide variety of materials are used as substrate for fungus cultivating. The so-called lower genera include species that prefer dead vegetation, seeds, flowers, fruits, insect corpses, and feces, which are collected in the vicinity of their nests. The higher genera include non leaf-cutting species that collect mostly fallen leaflets, fruit, and flowers, as well as the leafcutters that collect fresh leaves from shrubs and trees. Second, while the majority of fungi that are farmed by fungus-feeding ants belong to the family Lepiotaceae, mostly the genera Leucoagaricus and Leucocoprinus, other fungi are also involved. Some species utilise fungi in the family Tricholomataceae while a few others cultivate yeast. The fungi used by the higher genera no longer produce spores. Their fungi produce nutritious and swollen hyphal tips (gongylidia) that grow in bundles called staphylae, to specifically feed the ants. Finally, colony size varies tremendously among these ants. Lower taxa mostly live in inconspicuous nests with 100–1000 individuals and relatively small fungus gardens. Higher taxa, in contrast, live in colonies made of 5–10 million ants that live and work within hundreds of interconnected fungus-bearing chambers in huge subterranean nests. Some colonies are so large, they can be seen from satellite photos, measuring up to 600 m3.

Based on these habits, and taking phylogenetic information into consideration, these ants can be divided into six biologically distinct agricultural systems (with a list of genera involved in each category):

Nest Construction

A limited number of species that use fungi in the construction of their nests.

Lower Agriculture

Practiced by species in the majority of fungus-feeding genera, including those thought to retain more primitive features, which cultivate a wide range of fungal species in the tribe Leucocoprineae.

Coral Fungus Agriculture

Practiced by species in the Apterostigma pilosum species-group, which cultivate fungi within the Pterulaceae.

Yeast Agriculture

Practiced by species within the Cyphomyrmex rimosus species-group, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi derived from the lower attine fungi.

Generalized Higher Agriculture

Practiced by species in several genera of non-leaf-cutting "higher attine" ants, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi separately derived from the lower attine fungi.

Leaf-Cutter Agriculture

A subdivision of higher attine agriculture practiced by species within several ecologically dominant genera, which cultivate a single highly derived species of higher attine fungus.

Note that the farming habits of Mycetagroicus (4 species) are unknown. Also, while species of Pseudoatta (2 species) are closely related to the fungus-feeding genus Acromyrmex, they are social parasites, living in the nests of their hosts and are not actively involved in fungus growing. ‎



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

  • saltensis. Atta laevigata var. saltensis Forel, 1913l: 237 (w.) ARGENTINA (Salta).
    • Borgmeier, 1959b: 382 (q.m.).
    • Combination in Atta (Neoatta): Gonçalves, 1942: 349;
    • combination in Atta (Epiatta): Borgmeier, 1950d: 249;
    • combination in Atta (Palaeatta): Borgmeier, 1959b: 381.
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Emery, 1924d: 354.
    • Subspecies of vollenweideri: Gallardo, 1916d: 344; Santschi, 1919f: 50; Santschi, 1922b: 363; Borgmeier, 1950d: 249; Kusnezov, 1953b: 338.
    • Subspecies of polita: Santschi, 1929d: 305; Santschi, 1931e: 281; Borgmeier, 1939: 427.
    • Subspecies of laevigata: Bruch, 1914: 216; Forel, 1915c: 358; Gonçalves, 1942: 349.
    • Status as species: Borgmeier, 1959b: 381 (redescription); Kempf, 1972a: 28; Cherrett & Cherrett, 1989: 54; Bolton, 1995b: 77; Wild, 2007b: 31.
    • Senior synonym of lizeri: Borgmeier, 1959b: 381; Kempf, 1972a: 28; Bolton, 1995b: 77.
    • Senior synonym of obscurata: Borgmeier, 1959b: 381; Kempf, 1972a: 28; Bolton, 1995b: 77.
  • lizeri. Atta polita var. lizeri Santschi, 1920e: 123, fig. (s.w.) BOLIVIA.
    • [Also described as new by Santschi, 1922b: 364.]
    • Subspecies of polita: Weber, 1938b: 205; Borgmeier, 1939: 423 (in list).
    • Subspecies of laevigata: Gonçalves, 1942: 349.
    • Subspecies of vollenweideri: Borgmeier, 1950d: 243.
    • Junior synonym of saltensis: Borgmeier, 1959b: 381; Kempf, 1972a: 28; Bolton, 1995b: 76.
  • obscurata. Atta vollenweideri var. obscurata Gallardo, 1916d: 344 (w.) ARGENTINA (Santiago del Estero).
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Santschi, 1922b: 363; Emery, 1924d: 354.
    • Subspecies of polita: Santschi, 1929d: 305.
    • Subspecies of vollenweideri: Borgmeier, 1950d: 243.
    • Junior synonym of saltensis: Borgmeier, 1959b: 381; Kempf, 1972a: 28.



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Borgmeier T. 1939. Nova contribuição para o conhecimento das formigas neotropicas (Hym. Formicidae). Revista de Entomologia (Rio de Janeiro) 10: 403-428.
  • Borgmeier T. 1950. Atta-Studien (Hym. Formicidae). Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. Rio de Janeiro 48: 265-292.
  • Borgmeier T. 1950. Estudos sôbre Atta (Hym. Formicidae). Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. Rio de Janeiro 48: 239-263.
  • Cuezzo, F. 1998. Formicidae. Chapter 42 in Morrone J.J., and S. Coscaron (dirs) Biodiversidad de artropodos argentinos: una perspectiva biotaxonomica Ediciones Sur, La Plata. Pages 452-462.
  • Farji Brener A. G., and A. Ruggiero. 1994. Leaf-cutting ants (Atta and Acromyrmex) inhabiting Argentina: patterns in species richness and geographical range sizes. Journal of Biogeography 21(4): 391-399.
  • Gallardo A. 1916. Notes systématiques et éthologiques sur les fourmis attines de la République Argentine. Anales del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Buenos Aires 28: 317-344.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Kusnezov N. 1953. La fauna mirmecológica de Bolivia. Folia Universitaria. Cochabamba 6: 211-229.
  • Kusnezov N. 1978. Hormigas argentinas: clave para su identificación. Miscelánea. Instituto Miguel Lillo 61:1-147 + 28 pl.
  • Murua A. F., F. Cuezzo, and J. C. Acosta. 1999. La fauna de hormigas del Gran Bajo Oriental del departamento Valle Fertíl (San Juan, Argentina). Revista de la Sociedad Entomológica Argentina 58(3/4): 135-138.
  • Santschi F. 1919. Nouveaux formicides de la République Argentine. Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina. 87: 37-57.
  • Santschi F. 1920. Quelques nouvelles fourmis de Bolivie (expédition Lizer-Delétang, 1917). Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina 89: 122-126.
  • Santschi F. 1922. Myrmicines, dolichodérines et autres formicides néotropiques. Bulletin de la Société Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles 54: 345-378.
  • Santschi F. 1929. Nouvelles fourmis de la République Argentine et du Brésil. Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina. 107: 273-316.
  • Santschi F. 1931. Contribution à l'étude des fourmis de l'Argentine. Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina. 112: 273-282.
  • Vittar, F. 2008. Hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de la Mesopotamia Argentina. INSUGEO Miscelania 17(2):447-466
  • Vittar, F., and F. Cuezzo. "Hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de la provincia de Santa Fe, Argentina." Revista de la Sociedad Entomológica Argentina (versión On-line ISSN 1851-7471) 67, no. 1-2 (2008).
  • Wild, A. L. "A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)." Zootaxa 1622 (2007): 1-55.