Centromyrmex brachycola

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Centromyrmex brachycola
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Centromyrmex
Species: C. brachycola
Binomial name
Centromyrmex brachycola
(Roger, 1861)

Centromyrmex brachycola casent0178344 profile 1.jpg

Centromyrmex brachycola casent0178344 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Synonyms

Kempf (1967) - The brachycola var. paulina types, just a few individuals, were taken from a nest of Syntermes dirus Burmeister (Luederwaldt, 1926: 238). The specific identification of the host species is somewhat doubtful, since the common Syntermes species in the Sao Paulo area is not dirus but wheeleri Emerson (d. Araujo, 1958: 211-2). Mann (1934: 189) has made the ensuing very important observation: "In Bolivia I found in a decayed log a populous nest of termites and in the same log was a colony of red hunter ants (Centromyrmex). In the chambers of the ants’ home I noticed on top of each larva the body of a decapitated termite. Nearby were piles of dead termites to provide a second helping". This observation probably refers to the above mentioned series taken at Rosario, Bolivia.

Identification

A member of the brachycola species group.

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Bolivia, Brazil (type locality), Colombia, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

All of the species in the genus appear to be termitophagous and all are superbly adapted to this specialised predatory life style. Observations of some species have found them to be rather helpless when placed in an exposed, open situation. Weber described what happened when he found a worker “just beneath the soil surface under a thin cover of dead leaves”. The ant was “completely helpless when exposed to the daylight and writhed about when placed on the ground or in my palm. It made no attempt to run away, curling and uncurling without stinging, though it had a long, stout sting”. In other words, it seemed unable to walk when removed from its specialised habitat and placed on a surface where it could not use its specialised legs. If not discovered within a termite nest, individuals are occasionally found in the top soil or the root-mat below the leaf litter layer, where their short, powerful, spiny legs facilitate their movement. (Weber 1949, Bolton and Fisher 2008).

Castes

Worker

Queen

Nomenclature

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

  • brachycola. Ponera brachycola Roger, 1861a: 5 (q.) BRAZIL. Emery, 1906c: 114 (w.). Combination in Centromyrmex: Emery, 1890a: 74; Emery, 1890b: 40 (footnote). Senior synonym of bohemanni, paulina: Kempf, 1967b: 405.
  • bohemanni. Centromyrmex bohemanni Mayr, 1866b: 895, pl. 20, fig. 7 (w.) BRAZIL. Junior synonym of brachycola: Kempf, 1967b: 405.
  • paulina. Centromyrmex brachycola var. paulina Forel, 1911c: 287 (w.) BRAZIL. Junior synonym of brachycola: Kempf, 1967b: 405.

Taxonomic Notes

Jack Longino (15 Oct 2015) suggests that Centromyrmex mirabilis is a junior synonym of this species. He examined the holotype from the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. The type series was collected by Mann from Bolivia, Rosario on Lake Rocagua. Kempf (1966) reviewed the Neotropical Centromyrmex. Under C. brachycola he discussed the Rosario series collected by Mann, parts of which are in multiple collections (including Kempf's). Kempf referred to Mann's own account of finding this colony in a termite mound (Mann 1934:189). Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.

Description

Worker

Kempf (1967) - Total length about 6 mm. Head length 1.09-1.17 mm; head width 1.12-1.17 mm; thorax length 1.79-1.87 mm; hind tibia length 0.70-0.77 mm; hind metatarsus length 0.51-0.59 mm. Basal border of mandibles forming with chewing border nearly a right angle; chewing border finely and rather indistinctly denticulate (dentition often completely worn off). Head subquadrate, nearly as long as broad, with subparallel and almost straight sides, occipital border gently excavate. Clypeus without a median tumulus on disc, its anterior border very gently convex. Antennal scapes fail to reach the occipital corners by a distance equalling its maximum width. Thorax smooth and shining, the sparse punctures inconspicuous; striation confined to the extreme metasternal angle. Dorsum of thorax at least slightly impressed at meso-epinotal junction; epinotum at a slightly lower level than disc-shaped mesonotum. Mesoepinotal suture absent. Thorax strongly compressed at mesoepinotal junction. Basal face of epinotum narrowed in front to almost a point, forming posteriorly an obtuse angle with declivous face, which is oblique. Mesial spur of mid tibiae narrow and pointed, projecting well beyond apex of tibia. Extensor face of hind tibiae lacking heavy, spinelike setae on apical half. Petiole much longer than broad, the node laterally compressed; subpetiolar process relatively low and dentate. Sternum I of gaster without a marginate tuberosity below petiolar insertion.

Queen

Kempf (1967) - Similar to the worker, of approximately the same size. Thorax length 1.92-1.94 mm. Maximum diameter of eyes 0.27 mm. Petiolar node somewhat shorter than in worker. Hind wing with 7 hamuli.

References

  • Emery, C. 1890a [1889]. Alcune considerazioni sulla fauna mirmecologica dell'Africa. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 21: 69-75 (page 74, Combination in Centromyrmex)
  • Emery, C. 1890c. Studii sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 22: 38-80 (page 40, (footnote) Combination in Centromyrmex)
  • Emery, C. 1906c [1905]. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. XXVI. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 37: 107-194 (page 114, worker described)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1967b [1966]. A synopsis of the Neotropical ants of the genus Centromyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. 9: 401-410 (page 405, Senior synonym of bohemanni and paulina)
  • Roger, J. 1861a. Die Ponera-artigen Ameisen (Schluss). Berl. Entomol. Z. 5: 1-54 (page 5, queen described)