Azteca beltii

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Azteca beltii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Genus: Azteca
Species: A. beltii
Binomial name
Azteca beltii
Emery, 1893

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Specimen Labels

Synonyms

Azteca beltii is most abundant in moist and dry forest habitats, although it occurs as a low density element in wet forests. At La Selva Biological station in the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica, workers have been collected in a Ficus tree in the lab clearing and from one tree (of about 50) sampled by canopy fogging. It is likely that in wet forests it is found in highly insolated environments like the uppermost portion of the canopy and perhaps relict trees in clearings. In dry forest habitats it is known to nest in live stems in a wide variety of plant species. Very often it nests in myrmecophytes such as Cecropia, Cordia alliodora, and Triplaris melaenodendron but it has also been found nesting in non-myrmecophytes Piper tuberculatum (Piperaceae), Cochlospermum (Cochlospermaceae), and Pithecellobium saman (Fabaceae). Colonies are large and polydomous, nesting in the live shoot tips over large portions of the crowns of trees. But the workers are timid and appear to spend most of their time inside the stems, so they are not conspicuous ants on the surface. The nest chambers in the live stems usually have very high densities of coccoid Hemiptera. A tree with a large colony of A. beltii can appear herbivore-free on the surface, yet harbor a very large population of Hemiptera that is hidden from view inside of the stems. (Longino 2007)

Identification

Longino (2007) - From Mexico to Panama, the yellow color and large size distinguishes queens of A. beltii from all other species with elongate rectangular heads. The workers of A. beltii are most similar to workers of Azteca oecocordia. The largest workers of the former have yellow faces, while workers of the latter always have brown faces.

Very similar or possibly conspecific forms occur throughout South America. Azteca fasciata and Azteca mayrii are two South American taxa that are closely related to or conspecific with A. beltii.

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Bolivia, Costa Rica (type locality), Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama.


Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

All known Azteca species are arboreal, nesting in living or dead wood, or external carton nests. Some species exhibit obligate associations with myrmecophytes, especially of the genus Cecropia (see Chapter 14 of The Ants). Feeding habits are generalized with foraging occurring both arboreally and on the ground.

Castes

Worker

Queen

Nomenclature

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

  • beltii. Azteca bicolor r. beltii Emery, 1893b: 142, pl. 2, figs. 61-63 (s.w.) COSTA RICA. Raised to species and senior synonym of laeta, stolli: Longino, 1996: 136. See also: Longino, 1992: 1575; Longino, 2007: 21.
  • stolli. Azteca stolli Forel, 1912h: 54 (w.) GUATEMALA. Junior synonym of beltii: Longino, 1996: 136.
  • laeta. Azteca fasciata subsp. laeta Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 227 (q.) PANAMA. Junior synonym of beltii: Longino, 1996: 136.

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

Description

Worker

Longino (2007) - Measurements (n=9): HLA 1.62 (1.37–1.78), HW 1.28 (1.11–1.42), SL 0.77 (0.75– 0.81), CI 81 (76–83), SI 48 (45–56).

Palpal formula 5,3; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible smooth and shining, with moderately abundant piligerous puncta; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level; head elongate with weakly convex sides, strongly excavate posterior margin; in lateral profile pronotum shallowly convex, mesonotum more strongly convex and forming separate convexity that protrudes above pronotum; scape with sparse, inconspicuous erect setae, length of setae about one quarter maximum width of scape; mid and hind tibia with moderately abundant erect setae, setae inconspicuous, longest about one quarter maximum width of tibia; side of head with 1–2 short erect setae near mandibular insertion, absent elsewhere along side; posterior margin of head with sparse short erect setae; pronotum, mesonotum, and dorsal face of propodeum with sparse, short, erect setae; color of smaller workers brown, approaching coloration of queen on larger workers.

Queen

Longino (2007) - (n=9): HLA 1.90 (1.83–1.93), HW 1.30 (1.27–1.36), SL 0.84 (0.83–0.86, n=8), CI 70 (69–73), SI 45 (44–46, n=8).

Palpal formula 5,3; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible largely smooth, with sparse piligerous puncta, setae in puncta short, little longer than width of puncta, larger puncta with long setae near masticatory margin; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level; head rectangular, posterior margin distinctly excised medially; petiolar node short, bluntly rounded; posteroventral petiolar lobe shallow, evenly convex from front to back; scape with sparse erect setae, inconspicuous and only visible at certain angles, about as long as one quarter maximum width of scape; middle and hind tibia with sparse erect setae, fine, inconspicuous, longest about as long as one fifth maximum width of tibia (MTSC 5-10), side of head with 0–2 short erect setae near mandibular insertion, lacking setae elsewhere, posterior margin of head with sparse short setae; pronotum with posterior row of erect setae, mesoscutum, scutellum and propodeum with sparse erect setae, petiolar node with rim of erect pubescence, in profile with 0–4 erect setae projecting above apex, posteroventral lobe with layer of dense, whitish, erect, pubescence; gastral terga with sparse erect setae; general body color yellow orange, gastral terga with prominent medial dark brown bands, mandibles red brown, middle and hind femur and tibia variably infuscated.

Type Material

Longino (2007) - Holotype worker, Costa Rica (Alfaro) Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa (examined).

References

  • Emery, C. 1893l. Studio monografico sul genere Azteca Forel. Mem. R. Accad. Sci. Ist. Bologna (5)3:119-152 (page 142, pl. 2, figs. 61-63 soldier, worker described)
  • Longino, J. T. 1991a. Taxonomy of the Cecropia-inhabiting Azteca ants. J. Nat. Hist. 2 25: 1571-1602 (page 1575, subspecies of alfari (bicolor is given as a junior synonym of alfari))
  • Longino, J. T. 1996. Taxonomic characterization of some live-stem inhabiting Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica, with special reference to the ants of Cordia (Boraginaceae) and Triplaris (Polygonaceae). J. Hym. Res. 5: 131-156 (page 136, Raised to species, and senior synonym of laeta and stolli)
  • Longino, J.T. 2007. A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group. Zootaxa. 1491:1-63.