Blepharidatta brasiliensis

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Blepharidatta brasiliensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Blepharidatta
Species: B. brasiliensis
Binomial name
Blepharidatta brasiliensis
Wheeler, W.M., 1915

Blepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178580 profile 1.jpg

Blepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178580 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Blepharidatta brasiliensis have small colonies of less than 150 workers that can contain multiple ergatoid queens. It can be a relatively common ant in some places where it occurs.


Brandão et al. (2015) - Relatively small ants (total length of workers circa 2.5 mm). Body predominantly yellowish, opaque, densely areolate, and discretely rugulose. Eye rounded and strongly protruding. Propodeal spine shorter than petiole in lateral view. Petiolar node dorsally rounded in lateral view.

Kempf (1967) - Following are the characters that distinguish Blepharidatta conops from Blepharidatta brasiliensis: larger size; darker color; pilosity more abundant with hairs present also on ventral surface of petiole and postpetiole; clypeus with a pair of prominent tubercle; vertex with a broad sagittal furrow flanked by a pair of low and diverging ridges; occiput separated from vertex by a carina; dorsum of head lacking longitudinal rugae; occipital corners broadly and obliquely truncate and bidentate; eyes strikingly conical; antero-inferior corner of pronotum bidentate; epinotal spines relatively shorter, less approximated at base and less diverging at apex; infraspinal lamella with an upper spine and a median lobe; petiole rather cylindrical than clavate without a differentiated node; gaster entirely covered with microsculpture, never partly smooth and shining. According to Wheeler (1915: 485) brasiliensis has only 4 teeth on chewing border of mandibles. But according to my observation, both brasiliensis and conops have 5 mandibular teeth.

Keys including this Species


Blepharidatta brasiliensis is a central to western Amazonian species recorded in Brazil (states of Acre, Amazonas Pará and Rondônia), Colombia (Vaupés), Ecuador (Napo) and Venezuela (Amazonas). Lattke (1985) recorded B. brasiliensis in Venezuela, Territorio Amazonas, San Carlos de Río Negro, collected by L. Garvin in December, 1981, probably deposited in MIZA. (Brandão et al. 2015)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 0.591° to -64.36°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Brazil (type locality), Colombia, Ecuador, 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.


Brandão et al. (2015) - Diniz (1994) studied B. brasiliensis biology in a Manaus city development (Conjunto Acariquara), at the University of Amazonas campus and also at the Reserva Ducke. He observed the ants using rolled fallen leaves and natural cavities in rotten logs as nesting sites; in half out of the eight examined nests, he found insect carcasses around the nest openings. Worker populations of the eight colonies Diniz collected ranged from 49 to 117. One colony had only a single ergatoid gyne, while the others had 3–14 ergatoids; males ranged from 0 (four colonies) to 12. Diniz (op. cit.) listed the items found in pieces or sometimes in whole bodies around collected nests of B. brasiliensis: spiders, diplopods, orthopteroids, beetles, flies, unidentified Hymenoptera and ants of the genera Camponotus, Cephalotes, Crematogaster, Dolichoderus, Ectatomma, Nesomyrmex, Pachycondyla, Pheidole, Pseudomyrmex, and Solenopsis. Diniz observed at least once the migration of a colony from one rolled leaf to another, with workers also transferring the carcasses found within and around the nest opening. He also observed that workers keep the larvae in between the mandibles while inside the nest. In two nests, Diniz (op. cit.) recorded isopod inquilines that suffered no hostility from the workers.

Rabeling et al. (2006) described the non-homogeneous nest distribution of B. brasiliensis in a locality near Manaus, AM, Brazil (EMBRAPA campus). The colonies occupied either cavities within rotting branches (more commonly) or natural spaces between leaves (19% out of 26 studied nests), apparently taking advantage of pre-existing cavities, reducing the cavity size, if too large, or sealing it by means of a chamber wall, built from a mixture of soil, vegetable debris, and insect parts. According to them, “B. brasiliensis appears to take advantage of pre-existing cavities, which were only slightly modified by them. The shape of the main chambers was amorphous ellipsoid to round and had an inner dimension of 4 cm length by 1.5 cm width. If pre-existing cavities in branches were too large or the nest was located between leaves, the ants had reduced the nest volume by constructing chamber walls, built from a mixture of soil, vegetable debris, and insect parts in order to seal off the nest chamber.” As in Diniz (op. cit.), they also observed that colonies were polygynous with one to eleven ergatoid gynes and with 132 workers on average (SD = 95.63). Nests contained large numbers of brood (roughly 75% larvae and 25% pupae), which were kept lying on the bottom of the nest chamber. If a colony was disturbed, workers picked up the immatures and held them between their mandibles. The colonies they studied appeared to be mostly active at night and to be omnivorous, scavenging or preying on beetles, bees, cicadas, crickets, termites, spiders, and ants of the genera Cephalotes, Pheidole, Camponotus, and Pachycondyla. The victim’s legs and antennae were cut off before being dragged to the nest. Blepharidatta brasiliensis may also collect nutrient-rich plant structures, such as seeds or elaiosomes, in addition to the arthropod diet.

Franken et al. (2013) recorded B. brasiliensis in the litter trapped around Attalea attaleoides (Barb. Rodr.) Wess. Boer palm bases, which is a refuge for non-dominant ant species because aggressive species in these microhabitats are relatively rare. The trapped litter was occupied mostly by unaggressive predatory and fungus-growing species, which probably find more prey or better conditions to cultivate their food there.

Blepharidatta brasiliensis may be rather frequent in some Amazonian areas; for instance, Oliveira et al. (2009) recorded B. brasiliensis in 8.7% of the 850 pitfall traps and sardine baits set in 30 plots and from litter sifting (Winkler sacks) in 25 plots at Reserva Ducke in Manaus (the 5th most frequent ant species out of the 152 recorded in the area).



Images from AntWeb

Blepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178487 head 1.jpgBlepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178487 profile 1.jpgBlepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178487 dorsal 1.jpgBlepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178487 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0178487. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MZSP, Sao Paulo, Brazil.



Brandão et al. 2015. Fig 2, A-B.


Images from AntWeb

Blepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178581 head 1.jpgBlepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178581 profile 1.jpgBlepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178581 profile 2.jpgBlepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178581 profile 3.jpgBlepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178581 dorsal 1.jpgBlepharidatta brasiliensis casent0178581 label 1.jpg
Male (alate). Specimen code casent0178581. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MCZ, Cambridge, MA, USA.
Brandão et al. 2015. Fig 3, A-B.
Brandão et al. 2015. Fig 4, A-B.


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

  • brasiliensis. Blepharidatta brasiliensis Wheeler, W.M. 1915e: 484, fig. 1 (w.) BRAZIL (Pará).
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Brandão, Feitosa & Diniz, 2015: 42), 9 paralectotype workers.
    • Type-locality: lectotype Brazil: Pará, Belém, 15.v.1915 (W.C. Beebe); paralectotypes with same data.
    • Type-depositories: MZSP (lectotype); MCZC (paralectotypes).
    • Kempf, 1975c: 369 (m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1991a: 134 (l.); Brandão, Feitosa & Diniz, 2015: 43 (ergatoid q.).
    • Status as species: Bruch, 1915: 535; Gallardo, 1916d: 319; Emery, 1924d: 316; Borgmeier, 1927c: 123; Kempf, 1972a: 37; Kempf, 1975c: 369; Brandão, 1991: 331; Bolton, 1995b: 80; Brandão, Feitosa & Diniz, 2015: 42 (redescription); Fernández & Serna, 2019: 845.
    • Distribution: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela.

Type Material

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



Length nearly 2 mm.

Head nearly 1/3 longer than broad, narrower in front than behind, with strongly and broadly excised and marginate posterior border and nearly straight lateral borders, its dorsal and gular surfaces feebly convex, its posterior corners produced as prominent angular tubercles. Scrobes of nearly uniform transverse diameter throughout their length and sufficiently deep to accommodate the antennae. Frontal carinae expanded and lobular anteriorly, with translucent and slightly reflected borders throughout their length. Mandibles rather large, with moderately convex external borders, the apical borders rather oblique, with four subequal teeth. Clypeus with evenly rounded, entire anterior border, Battened in the middle between the two prominent longitudinal carinae and transversely impressed at the anterior border. Frontal area semicircular. Antennae slender, scapes reaching nearly to the posterior corners of the head, their apical halves distinctly thickened; first funicular joint large, fully twice as long as broad; joints 2-7 narrower, a little broader than long, joints as long as broad; joint 9, the basal joint of the clava, longer than broad and twice as broad as the preceding joints; terminal joint large, pointed, nearly three times as long as broad. Thorax narrower than the head, more than twice as long as broad, broadest through the humeri, in profile more than twice as long as high, feebly and evenly convex above. Pronotum with acute, dentate anterior corners, from which there run a pair of distinct longitudinal ridges, gradually converging posteriorly to the epinotal spines. Each of these ridges bears two minute teeth. Epinotum sloping, concave in the middle,. marginate on the sides below the spines, which are long, straight, acute, close together at their insertions and directed backward, outward and upward. Metasternal angles thin, translucent, broad and sharply angular above. Petiole fully three times as long as broad or high, with a short distinct peduncle in front and constricted behind the node, which is evenly and feebly convex above; seen from above the segment is broadest at its posterior margin. Postpetiole a little broader than the petiole but scarcely higher, from above rectangular, a little broader than long, in profile feebly convex above. Gaster subcircular from above, with straight basal margin.

Gaster smooth and shining; remainder of the body, including the appendages opaque, very finely and densely punctate-rugulose. Head above between the frontal carinae with six coarse, longitudinal rugae connected by sparse, indistinct transverse rugules or reticulations. Pronotum above with four feeble longitudinal rugae. Pleurae very indistinctly and irregularly rugose. Petiole and antennal scapes indistinctly longitudinally rugulose. Postpetiole and legs very finely and densely punctate. Gaster very finely and indistinctly shagreened, at the base above densely punctate and opaque.

Hairs yellowish; those on the upper surface of the body very long, slightly curved, of uniform thickness and blunt, arranged very regularly in pairs. On the head nearly all of them arise from the edges of the frontal carinae where the insertion of each hair is a minute tubercle; on the thorax the hairs are inserted along the ridges connecting the humeral angles with the epinotal spines. The petiole bears three, the postpetiole two pairs of these peculiar pairs. On the gaster there are four regular equidistant rows, with about six hairs in each row. Each fore coxa hears a single long hair and there is a pair of hairs on the gula. Legs, antennae, alid terminal gastric segments with numerous, short, appressed pointed hairs and the dorsal surface of the gaster also with a few scattered reclinate hairs.

Color ferruginous; antennae, legs, tip and sides of gaster somewhat paler arid more yellowish.

Brandão et al. (2015) - Lectotype: HL 0.65; HW 0.45; SL 0.45; ML 0.15; WL 0.7; PL 0.4; Ppl 0.15; Hfl 0.65; GL 0.6. (n=7): HL 0.6–0.75; HW 0.4–0.5; SL 0.45–0.5; ML 0.15–0.25; WL 0.65–0.75; PL 0.35–0.45; Ppl 0.15–0.2; Hfl 0.6–0.75; GL 0.55–0.75.

Color uniformly yellowish, with slightly darker gaster and almost transparent frontal carina; appendages yellowish. Body densely covered by minute areolate rugulose sculpture units, superposed by regularly spaced longitudinal rugulae on head; gaster mostly smooth. Mandible with short longitudinal irregular striae covering two thirds of mandibular blade basally; central portion of clypeus with relatively pronounced longitudinal and transversal carinae forming rough reticulation over fine and uniform reticulation. Scrobe divided into four distinct parts, the anterior one is deeper than the rest of the scrobe and accommodates base of antenna; the second area shows 3–4 transverse curved striae over areolate rugae, followed by a deep, almost smooth area, and a posterior area of transversally oriented sculpture units, ending with areolate rugulae. Dorsal surface of head with five prominent longitudinal rugulae at each side. Compound eye set within a net of polygonal cells formed by rugulae, better seen in lateral view, three long and parallel cells anterior to eye, and seven irregular foveae posterior to eye, the first double and others in a row. Mesosoma sculptured throughout entire surface, with irregular, vermiculate, longitudinal rugae over areolate sculpture. Petiole and postpetiole with two longitudinal rugae in lateral view. Areolate sculpture concentrated on the anterior one fifth of gaster, otherwise smooth and shining. Appendages regularly areolate.

In general, body covered by sparse hairs; hairs stiff, long, slightly curved, uniform in width, and truncate; some of them in pairs. Dorsum of mandible with subdecumbent to appressed flexuous short hairs; frontal carina with 6– 7 regularly spaced and upwards bent hairs. Dorsum of petiolar node and postpetiole with sparse hairs, mostly in pairs; ventral face of petiole devoid of hairs; ventral face of postpetiole with a single pair of hairs. Anterior face of coxa with a long and erect hair. Legs otherwise covered by appressed small pilosity.

Brandão et al. 2015. FIGURE 6. A–I. B. brasiliensis (Manaus, AM, Brasil), venom apparatus. A. spiracular plate. B. quadrate plate. C. oblong plate. D. triangular plate. E gonostylus (not in the same scale). F. anal plate. G. sting (lateral view). H. lancet. I. sting (dorsal view).

Cephalic occipital corner tuberculate in frontal view. Scape and funiculus partially lodged in scrobe, which is not wide enough to receive whole scape; frontal carina does not cover scrobe, internal area of scrobe visible even with the head in frontal view; convex compound eye with about eight to nine facets along maximum diameter. Ventral face of head slightly convex, head wider anteriorly than rest in lateral view.

Promesonotum slightly convex medially in anterior view, followed by attenuated curve to lateral margin; straight in profile, anterior margin angular; dorsum of promesonotum higher than propodeal dorsum; pronotal humeral angle pointed, slightly bent forwards; anteroventral corner pointed; metanotal groove shallow but clearly visible in lateral view; mesometapleural suture absent or faintly marked, not clearly separating the meso- and metapleuron on the sides of mesosoma; bulla of metapleural gland indistinct; dorsal profile of propodeum straight; propodeal spines relatively long and slightly directed posterodorsally; infraspinal lamella present and fused to propodeal lobe; propodeal lobe subquadrate in side view, length close to one-third of propodeal spine length.

Petiole pedunculate, node moderately elevated and dorsally rounded, posterior face weakly sloped in lateral view; postpetiole feebly convex dorsally and without ventral processes. Gaster suboval, tergum I anterolaterally angular in dorsal view.

Sting apparatus (Figs. 6 A–I). Spiracular plate sub-rectangular, body extends towards median connection; spiracular external margin separated from ventral plate margin by distance equal to the internal diameter of spiracle; ventral tubercle absent. Quadrate plate apodeme of same size as plate body, anterodorsal corner with distinct projection and rounded apex. Anal plate as in other Blepharidatta species. Oblong plate with short posterior apodeme; subterminal tubercle absent. Gonostylus membranaceous with short terminal band. Triangular plate dorsal tubercle prominent and indistinct; median tubercle absent. Lancets as in other Blepharidatta species. Sting base with distinct antero-lateral processes, slender; campaniform sensillae of valve chamber present beyond basal half of sting shaft; sting reduction index 37. Furcula dorsal arm length smaller than side arm’s length.


Brandão et al. (2015) - (n=1): HL 0.70, HW 0.50, SL 0.5, ML 0.15, WL 0.70, PL 0.45, Ppl 0.15, HfL 0.65, GL 0,85.

Similar to conspecific worker, differing by the slightly larger body size and more robust gaster.


Kempf (1967) - Total length 3.2 mm; head length 0.64-0.67 mm; head width behind eyes 0.47-0.49 mm; scape length 0.17-0.19 mm; maximum diameter of eyes 0.31-0.32 mm; Weber's length of thorax 0.85-0.87 mm; hind femur length 0.79-0.81 mm; hind tibia length 0.47-0.49 mm; fore wing length 2.8-2.9 mm; hind wing length 2.2-2.3 mm. Ferruginous; mandibles, clypeus, antennae, legs, and often disc of tergum I of gaster lighter, yellowish brown. Integument densely reticulate-punctate, dull; this sculpture becomes superficial to vestigial on antennal funiculi, legs and dorsal disc of postpetiole which are rather shining; gaster entirely smooth, highly polished and shining. Standing hairs longer than scape, scattered on mandibles, head, sides of pronotum, mesonotal scutum and scutellum and apical half of gaster; fine appressed pubescence on antennae and legs. Apex of fore wing and posterior border of hind wing with long, dense fringing hairs.

Note: This is probably the male of brasiliensis, already known in the worker caste from Para and Amazonas State in Brazil and from Cordoba in the Argentine.

Brandão et al. (2015) - (n=1): HL 0.45; HW 0.35; SL 0.15; ML 0.2; WL 0.7; PL 0.3; Ppl 0.1; Hfl 0.45; GL 0.6.

Body yellowish-brown, with head, scutum, and first third of gaster slightly darker; appendages yellowish. Body areolate, especially on head; sculpture on lateral portions of mesosoma almost indistinct. Gaster smooth and shiny. Long, subdecumbent, cream-colored hairs sparsely covering head and mesosomal dorsum, denser on apical segments of gaster; appendages with fine and sparse appressed hairs.

Head subrectangular, longer than wide. Mandible short and subfalcate, with vestigial denticles on masticatory margin; scape not reaching posterior margin of eye in frontal view; pedicel enlarged and relatively short; first funicular segment as long as the pedicel. Eye huge and extremely protruding, occupying about three fourths of head in lateral view. Ocelli present and equally developed.

Pronotum reduced in dorsal view, humeral angles discrete and rounded; scutum large, rounded anteriorly and with slightly convex posterior margin; notauli distinct. Prescutellum narrow; scutellum wider than long. Metanotal suture well-marked and shallow. Propodeum unarmed, slightly angular in profile, dorsal profile short, declivity almost vertical.

Wings dark amber and covered by dense pubescence; venation reduced; pterostigma vestigial; longitudinal veins Sc+R, Rs, M, Cu, and A present; Rs, M, Cu not extending to the external margins of wing; cells C, R and SR closed. Hind wing with R+Rs and M+Cu veins only.

Petiole pedunculate, with a subrectangular dorsal node; ventral processes absent. Postpetiole subquadrate in dorsal view, slightly broader than long, and attached to gaster by almost its full width. Gaster elongate, tergite I anterolaterally feebly angular.


Brandão et al. (2015) - (modified from Wheeler & Wheeler, 1991, which based the description on 12 larvae from Alto Mavaca, Amazonas, Venezuela). With the characters of Blepharidatta larvae but with few head hairs, all very short except for the two near midline. Hypopharynx with minute spinulae in arcuate rows.

Type Material

Brandão et al. (2015) - Lectotype worker (here designated) and 9 paralectotypes: BRAZIL: Para: Belée, Beebe col., May, 1915 Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo (examined); 9 “cotype” workers (syntypes), same locality, Museum of Comparative Zoology no. 9040 (not examined).

Determination Clarifications

The record of B. brasiliensis workers by Gallardo (1916) in Argentina, Córdoba province, Altagracia, deposited in the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia actually proved to represent Wasmannia auropunctata, according to the curator, Dr. Arturo Andrés Roig.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Brandao, C.R.F. 1991. Adendos ao catalogo abreviado das formigas da regiao neotropical (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Rev. Bras. Entomol. 35: 319-412.
  • Fernandes I., and J. de Souza. 2018. Dataset of long-term monitoring of ground-dwelling ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the influence areas of a hydroelectric power plant on the Madeira River in the Amazon Basin. Biodiversity Data Journal 6: e24375.
  • Harada A. Y., and A. P. Ramos Araujo. 2002. Insecta-Hymenoptera-Formicidae-Myrmicinae-Blepharidattini-Genera Blepharidatta. Fauna da Amazonia Brasiliera, Belem 19: 1-4.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Majer J. D., and J. H. C. Delabie. 1994. Comparison of the ant communities of annually inundated and terra firme forests at Trombetas in the Brazilian Amazon. Insectes Sociaux 41: 343-359.
  • Palacio G., E.E. and F. Fernandez. 1995. Hormigas de Colombia V: Neuvos registros. Tacaya 4:6-7
  • Pereira J. C., J. H. C. Delabie, L. R. S. Zanette, and Y. Quinet. 2014. Studies on an Enigmatic Blepharidatta Wheeler Population (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the Brazilian Caatinga. Sociobiology 61(1): 52-59.
  • Vasconcelos H. L., J. M. S. Vilhena, W. E. Magnusson, and A. L. K. M. Albernaz. 2006. Long-term effects of forest fragmentation on Amazonian ant communities. Journal of Biogeography 33: 1348-1356.
  • Vasconcelos, H.L., J.M.S. Vilhena, W.E. Magnusson and A.L.K.M. Albernaz. 2006. Long-term effects of forest fragmentation on Amazonian ant communities. Journal of Biogeography 33:1348-1356