Cephalotes femoralis

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cephalotes femoralis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cephalotes
Species: C. femoralis
Binomial name
Cephalotes femoralis
(Smith, F., 1853)

Cephalotes femoralis P casent0627943.jpg

Cephalotes femoralis D casent0627943.jpg

Specimen Label


Specimens have been collected from pasture and scrubby second growth vegetation. Little else is known about the biology of Cephalotes femoralis.


A member of the basalis clade the worker of which is characterised by the first gastral tergite covered with thin, irregular, longitudinal rugosities and by the frontal carinae, orange. It can be easily recognised from all the other species by the thin, longitudinal, irregular rugosities on the first gastral tergite. The worker of C. femoralis shares with those of Cephalotes basalis and Cephalotes inca the long petiolar spines and the two pairs of anterior propodeal teeth flat and broad. Large workers of femoralis have the posterior face of the femora with superficial, irregular, longitudinal rugosities; the same structure is also present in Cephalotes mompox but the rugosities in this species are much more impressed and are present in workers of all sizes.

Keys including this Species


Known from Columbia and Panama.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 11.242° to 3.988888889°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Colombia (type locality), Ecuador, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


The biology of many Cephalotes species is not known. Ants in this genus are common in the New World tropics and subtropics and are especially abundant and diverse in the canopies of Neotropical forests. The majority of species are arboreal. Species that live in other strata inhabit smaller trees, bushes or grass stems. These noon-arboreal species, due to their accessibility, are among the better studied members of the genus. There are also species that can be found in downed wood but it is likely the wood housed the colony before it fell to the ground. Soil nests are not known for any species nor do most species appear to extensively excavate plant tissue. They nest instead in preformed cavities. Overall, ants in the genus utilize a wide range of plants. Some species are predictable in their plant use but none appear to have evolved specialized mutualisms with particular plant species.

Worker castes typically include two forms, a worker and soldier, but there are a few species that are monomorphic. The larger soldier caste typically has an enlarged head disk. In some species the head of the soldier is very different from the worker while in others these differences are less pronounced. Queens and soldiers tend to share similar head morphology. Soldiers use their heads to plug the nest entrance. This can be very effective in excluding potential intruders. Other morphological differences between the worker castes are present but these differences have not been studied as well as head moprhology.

The behavioral repertoire of Cephalotes varians has been examined in great detail (ethograms from Wilson 1976, Cole 1980 and Cole 1983). Soldiers do little else besides defend the nest. This specialized soldier behavior is presumed to be the norm for most species. An especially interesting behavior occurs when workers are dislodged from trees: they "fly" towards the tree, often grabbing the trunk well above the ground (video).

Mature nest size varies, by species, from less than a hundred to many thousands of workers. Available evidence suggests most species are monogynous. Queens may mate with multiple males.

The proventriculus of the Cephalotes is peculiar relative to other ants. The morphology of the structure suggests it serves as a powerful pump and filter. This does not appear to lead these ants to have a highly specialized diet as most species appear to be general scavengers. Foragers have been observed feeding on carrion, bird feces, extrafloral nectaries and even tending membracids. Pollen feeding has been observed in some species, and this is somewhat specialized for ants, but it is not evident that any species restricts its diet to this resource in any significant way. Evidence for pollen feeding in Cephalotes has accumulated, in part, via finding digested pollen grains seen in infrabucal pellets. It has been suggested that the morphology of the proventriculus is a specialization for processing pollen.

More research examining all aspects of the biology of Cephalotes is needed. Our present understanding of these ants is largely based on species that live in locations other than the forest canopy, which is where Cephalotes are most common and diverse.



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

  • femoralis. Cryptocerus femoralis Smith, F. 1853: 219, pl. 20, fig. 3 (w.) COLOMBIA. Combination in Paracryptocerus: Kempf, 1951: 202; in Zacryptocerus: Brandão, 1991: 386; in Cephalotes: De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 266. Subspecies of complanatus: Emery, 1890b: 75. Junior synonym of complanatus: Roger, 1861b: 173; Dalla Torre, 1893: 142; Emery, 1924d: 307. Revived from synonymy, revived status as species and senior synonym of silvae: Kempf, 1951: 202. See also: De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 267.
  • silvae. Cryptocerus silvae Forel, 1906d: 233 (w.) COLOMBIA. Combination in Cryptocerus (Paracryptocerus): Emery, 1924d: 307. Junior synonym of femoralis: Kempf, 1951: 202.

Type Material



Kempf (1951) - Length 6.6 mm. Median head length 1.56 mm; Weber's length of thorax 2.07 mm. Black; the following ferruginous: tip of mandibles, frontal carinae, lateral border of pronotal plates. Tip of last funicular segment orange.

Head subopaque, subtrapezoid. Mandibles finely reticulate-punctate, finely reticulate-rugose. Sides of head greatly sinuate, distinctly converging in front, conspicuously expanded above the eyes. Frontal carinae prolonged behind the scrobe, upturned above the eyes, reaching the angulate occipital corner. Occipital border concave, sharply crested laterad, the middle piece slightly convex. Upper surface of head very little convex, finely reticulate-punctate, densely foveolate discally, reticulate-rugose and foveolate laterad and caudad, each foveola containing a broad, appressed, short, canaliculate, silvery scale. Cheeks strongly marginate beneath, densely covered with large silvery appressed scales. Lower surface of head reticulate-rugose and foveolate, rather densely scaled.

Thorax subopaque. Sides of lateral pronotal plates subparallel, the anterior angle subrectangular, the posterior corner rounded. Promesonotal suture obsolete. Mesonotum with a strong lateral spine. Mesoepinotal suture obsolete.

Basal face of epinotum with a broad, plate-like triangular tooth, having on its anterior border a smaller accessory denticule, on each side, and a posterior, short, acuminate spine, projecting obliquely backward and upward, shorter than the length of the basal face. Promesonotum somewhat convex in profile. Declivous face coarsely longitudinally striated, its sides subemarginate. Dorsum of thorax finely reticulate-punctate, coarsely reticulate-rugose, densely scaled below, smooth above. Femora, even the fore femora, greatly incrassated and compressed, angulate above the lateral faces rather densely reticulate-punctate longitudinally rugulose and subopaque. Tibiae prismatic. Hind basitarsus broader and shorter than in multispinus [= basalis].

Petiole and postpetiole subopaque. The petiolar spines less upturned than in multispinus [= basalis]. Both segments above with a median longitudinal carinule, which in the postpetiole arises from a median tooth on the anterior border.

Gaster subopaque; broadly subcordiform; very convex above. First gastral tergite scarcely emarginate in front mesad, narrowly crested antero-Iaterad, rather conspicuously longitudinally areolate-rugulose, not foveolate, without distinctly visible scales. Longitudinal rugulae very distinct on base and apical third of the tergite. First sternite with coarse longitudinal striae laterad. Sparse, erect hair on the apical third of the gaster.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 6.08-6.92; HL 1.48-1.68; HW 1.92-2.24; EL 0.5-0.56; PW 1.68-2.00; PeW 1.28-1.56; PpW 1.16-1.40; HBaL 0.60-0.72; HBaW 0.28-0.34; CI 129.7-136.8; PI 110.9-120.1; PPeI 124.3-134.4; PPpI 142.8-148.4; HBaI 46.7-50.0.

Type Material

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999):

Worker. Type locality: Colombia. Type material probably lost; neither in The Natural History Museum nor in Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Cryptocerus silvae. Worker. Type localities Santa Marta, Sabanilla, Cienaga, Calabasio, Ouriheka (Colombia). Type material: 13 syntype workers labelled "Cr. silvae, Sta. Martha, Colombie, Forel", in Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève, examined; one syntype worker same data as before in Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel, examined; 4 syntype workers labelled " Cr. silvae, Sabanilla, Santschi", in MHNG, examined. Lectotype selected by Kempf (1951) not found in MHNG.


  • Brandão, C. R. F. 1991. Adendos ao catálogo abreviado das formigas da região Neotropical (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Rev. Bras. Entomol. 35: 319-412 (page 386, Combination in Zacryptocerus)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 142, Junior synonym of complanatus)
  • de Andrade, M. L.; Baroni Urbani, C. 1999. Diversity and adaptation in the ant genus Cephalotes, past and present. Stuttgarter Beitrage zur Naturkunde Series B (Geolgie and Palaontologie). 271:1-889. (page 266, Combination in Cephalotes, page 267, see also)
  • Emery, C. 1890b. Voyage de M. E. Simon au Venezuela (Décembre 1887 - Avril 1888). Formicides. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. (6)(10): 55-76 (page 75, Subspecies of complanatus)
  • Emery, C. 1924f [1922]. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [concl.]. Genera Insectorum 174C: 207-397 (page 307, Junior synonym of complanatus)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1951. A taxonomic study on the ant tribe Cephalotini (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Rev. Entomol. (Rio J.) 22: 1-244 (page 202, Combination in Paracryptocerus, revived from synonymy, revived status as species, and senior synonym of silvae)
  • Oliveira, A.M., Powell, S., Feitosa, R.M. 2021. A taxonomic study of the Brazilian turtle ants (Formicidae: Myrmicinae: Cephalotes). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 65, e20210028 (doi:10.1590/1806-9665-rbent-2021-0028).
  • Roger, J. 1861b. Myrmicologische Nachlese. Berl. Entomol. Z. 5: 163-174 (page 173, Junior synonym of complanatus)
  • Smith, F. 1853 [1854]. Monograph of the genus Cryptocerus, belonging to the group Cryptoceridae - family Myrmicidae - division Hymenoptera Heterogyna. Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. (2) 2: 213-228 (page 219, pl. 20, fig. 3 worker described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Forel A. 1906. Fourmis néotropiques nouvelles ou peu connues. Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 50: 225-249.
  • de Andrade, M.L. & C. Baroni Urbani. 1999. Diversity and Adaptation in the ant genus Cephalotes, past and present. Stuttgarter Beitrage zur Naturkunde Serie B 271. 893 pages, Stuttgart