Cephalotes laminatus

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Cephalotes laminatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cephalotes
Species: C. laminatus
Binomial name
Cephalotes laminatus
(Smith, F., 1860)

Cephalotes laminatus P casent0217838.jpg

Cephalotes laminatus D casent0217838.jpg

Specimen Label

Nothing is known about the biology of Cephalotes laminatus.


A member of the laminatus clade differing from its sister species, Cephalotes inaequalis, in the worker, by the head longer and narrower, by the pronotal and propodeal spines longer and thinner, and, in the soldier, by the head narrower with the frontal carinae strongly converging anteriorly and by the sculpture more impressed and shining, and, in the gyne, by the head more convex and narrower.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

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

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 New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • laminatus. Cryptocerus laminatus Smith, F. 1860c: 76, pl. 4, fig. 3 (w.) BRAZIL. Emery, 1894c: 203 (s.); De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 233 (s.q.m.). Combination in Cryptocerus (Paracryptocerus): Emery, 1915i: 192; in Paracryptocerus: Kempf, 1951: 164; in Zacryptocerus: Brandão, 1991: 386; in Cephalotes: De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 231.



Kempf (1959), as translated by de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Total length 5.3 mm; maximum head length 1.48 mm; median head length 1.19 mm; thorax length 1.52 mm.

Differs from inaequalis (Mann, 1916) for the following characters: semitransparent lamellae of the head and of the gaster and thoracal and petiolar spines darker, i. e. light ferruginous. Border of the occipital lamellae slightly curved, near straight. Lateral pronotal teeth less flat and widened at the base. Promesonotal suture vestigial. Mesoepinotal suture superficially impressed. Lateral epinotal teeth like those of the pronotum, with the posterior distinctly longer than the anterior one. Thoracic dorsum with denser foveolae and longer scales in the foveolae. Gaster much longer than wide, the median length larger than the maximum width with a proportion of 54:47; anterolateral lamellae narrower; scales longer.

Can be distinguished from christopherseni (Forel, 1912) for the following characters: Lighter tibiae. Head longer than the thorax, less flat in its superior face. Maximum diameter of the eyes exactly 1/3 of the head length. Second lateral pronotal tooth as long as the first, wider at the base; lateral border of the pronotum between the point of the second teeth and the posterior angle very weakly curved. Epinotal teeth thicker. Declivous face of the epinotum excavated in the middle, with the lateral borders strongly carinate.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 4.65-5.28; HL 1.16-1.26; HW 1.56-1.72; EL 0.38-0.44; PW 1.16-1.32; PeW 0.62-0.65; PpW 0.52-0.64; HBaL 0.48-0.56; HBaW 0.11-0.12; CI 133.3-138.7; PI 130.0-137.1; PPeI 183.3-200.0; PPpI 188.6-238.5; HBaI 19.6-23.1.


de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Differing from inaequalis in the following: frontal carinae anteriorly strongly converging towards the mandibles, laterally straight and gently upturned, and not reaching the posterior border of the eyes.

Mesosoma. Pronotal sides with the first pair of lamellar teeth more acute and broader. Mesonotal sides with a pair of thinner, truncate or slightly pointed teeth. Basal face of the propodeum with the pair of spines reaching the anterior third of the declivous face.

Petiolar sides medially with a pair of thin spines curved backwards.

Gaster shorter.

Sculpture. Body less punctate, more shining and with deeper and slightly larger foveae.

Colour. Black. Frontal carinae with one or two pairs of small, ferruginous, semitransparent spots. Lamellaceous border of the gaster yellow to ferruginous and semitransparent. Gaster with a pair of light yellow spots anteriorly. Tibiae and tarsomeres dark ferruginous.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 6.74-8.02; HL 1.80-2.22; HW 2.28-2.68; EL 0.50-0.52; PW 1.88-2.20; PeW 0.85-0.96; PpW 0.76-0.90; HBaL 0.60-0.70; HBaW 0.14-0.18; CI 113.7-126.7; PI 113.0-121.3; PPeI 221.2-229.2; PPpI 239.0-247.4; HBaI 23.3-25.7.


de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Differing from inaequalis in the following: head less broad and much more convex. Frontal carinae strongly converging anteriorly; their sides parallel, gently upturned and surpassing behind the eyes posteriorly. Vertexal angles obtuse and slightly diverging towards the ventral border of the eyes. Vertex simply convex or with a pair of median, minute denticles.

Mesosoma. Scapular angles reduced and not visible in full dorsal view. Humeral angles with a pair of spines longer and more acute. Pronotal crest narrow, superficially marked on the sides and interrupted in the middle. Basal face of the propodeum anteriorly straight or weakly convex and followed by a pair of teeth pointed or round. Propodeal teeth directed backwards or slightly diverging.

Petiolar sides unarmed or with a pair of small median denticles. Postpetiole, laterally, with a pair of truncate lobes instead of spines.

Gaster with a pair of marginate anterior lobes.

Sculpture. Body foveae deeper and slightly larger. Lower metapleurae with transversal, thin rugosities on the dorsal half.

Pilosity. Clubbed hairs on the mesosoma and on the first gastral tergite rare and absent on the pedicel.

Colour. Black. Frontal carinae with one or two pairs of ferrugineous and semitransparent spots. Gaster with two pairs of yellow spots, the first pair on the anterior third and the second one before the posterior border of the first tergite. Tibiae and tarsomeres dark ferruginous.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 12.00-13.02; HL 2.46-2.50; HW 2.64-2.76; EL 0.55-0.56; PW 2.56-2.60; PeW 1.08; PpW 1.28-1.44; HBaL 0.80-0.81; HBaW 0.20-0.22; CI 107.3-110.4; PI 103.1-106.1; PPeI 237.0-240.7; PPpI 180.5-200.0; HBaI 25.0-27.2.


de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Head (eyes included) more than 1/3 broader than long. Vertex strongly protruding dorsally. Compound eyes broadly convex. Frontal carinae short and not reaching the median ocellus posteriorly. Frons flat. Clypeus dorsally convex; its anterior border with a pair of broad denticles. External face of the mandibles without carina. Scapes thick, twice as long as the first funicular joint; remaining funicular joints thickening from the base to the apex.

Mesosoma. Pronotum in dorsal view with the sides diverging backwards, without carinae. Mesonotal scutum convex in side view; median Mayrian furrow very superficial. Basal and declivous faces of the propodeum differentiate; basal face gently convex and sloping backwards; declivous face posteriorly marked by a pair of longitudinal, converging carinae.

Petiole with deeply concave anterior face; posterior face sloping posteriorly and flat. Petiolar sides convex. Postpetiolar sides with a pair of small denticles medially.

Gaster slightly broader than the mesosoma.

Wings as in the gyne.

Sculpture. Head dorsum minutely reticulate-punctate and with irregular rugosities and foveae, the rugosities thinner on the posterior half, irregular and transversal around the eyes; the foveae denser on the vertexal area. Clypeus strongly reticulate. Ventral part of the head reticulate, punctate and with irregular foveae. Pronotum, mesonotum, scutellum, pro- and mesopleurae minutely and superficially reticulate, punctate and covered with shallow, variably clumped foveae, the reticulation more impressed on the pronotum. Basal face of the propodeum and upper metapleurae punctate and with sparse and irregular longitudinal rugosities, the rugosities continuing on the declivous face but thinner. Lower metaplcurae with longitudinal rugosities. Sides of the petiole and dorsum of the postpetiole superficially reticulate and with the sides covered with irregular foveae and short, thin, longitudinal rugosities. First gastral tergite reticulate and with superficial longitudinal rugosities. Remaining tergites and sternites superficially reticulate-punctate and slightly shining. Legs punctate, the punctures more impressed on the tarsi.

Pilosity. Body with light ferrugineous, flexuous, thin, pointed hairs dense on the head, on the mesosoma, on the pedicel, on the ventral face of the femora, and on the gaster. Legs with additional similar hairs but shorter and appressed.

Colour. Black with lighter gaster. Legs yellow.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 6.58; HL 0.92; HW 1.28; EL 0.45; PW 1.08; PeW 0.66; PpW 0.73; HBaL 0.77; HBaW 0.11; CI 139.1; PI 118.5; PPeI 163.6; PPpI 147.9; HBaI 14.3.

Type Material

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Cryptocerus laminatus

Presence of the holotype in Oxford University Museum of Natural History has been confirmed by W.W. Kempf.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Worker. Type locality: Ega (= Tefe) (Amazonas, Brazil). Type material: lectotype worker without locality label in Oxford University Museum of Natural History (Type Hymenoptera 1042) (designated by Kempf, 1959: 95), examined; possible additional type material or material from the same series not examined by Smith: one worker and one soldier labelled "Amazonas, H. W. Bates S." in the Zoologische Staatssammlung, Munich (Forel, 1911b: 261), examined; second worker labelled "Amazonas, H. W. Bates S., cotype" in Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève, examined.