Cephalotes mompox

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Cephalotes mompox
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cephalotes
Species: C. mompox
Binomial name
Cephalotes mompox
De Andrade, 1999

Cephalotes mompox casent0909266 p 1 high.jpg

Cephalotes mompox casent0909266 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Nothing is known about the biology of Cephalotes mompox.


A member of the basalis clade characterised by the strong, longitudinal striae on the posterior face of the femora of the worker. C. mompox is similar to Cephalotes cordiventris, but the worker of Cephalotes mompox can be easily distinguished by the presence of striae on the posterior face of the femora. Since the three species Cephalotes basalis, cordiventris and mompox have been confused in the past, it is very likely that the Colombian specimens of "multispinus", a species of which we did not see Colombian specimens, and mentioned by Kempf (1951) also are mompox.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 11.242° to 6.684167°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Colombia (type locality), 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.

  • mompox. Cephalotes mompox De Andrade, in De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 264, figs. 111, 388 (w.) COLOMBIA.

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



Vertexal angles triangular. Vertexal margin concave, only laterally marginate and prolonged backwards as a "neck". Cheeks marginate inferiorly. Frontal carinae upturned over and slightly converging after the eyes. Eyes very large. Anterior clypeal border concave. Mandibles with lateral carinae.

Mesosoma convex in side view. Pronotum in dorsal view with the anterior border convex. Pronotum with a pair of broad lamellae, anteriorly pointed, medially straight and gently converging, and posteriorly round. Mesonotal teeth large and pointed. Pronotal and propodeal sutures in dorsal view impressed laterally only. Propodeum with differentiate basal and declivous faces; basal face with three pairs of teeth, the anterior pair small and obtuse, the median and the posterior pairs long and pointed; declivous face separate from the basal one by a superficial carina; sides of the declivous face converging posteriorly.

Petiole anteriorly truncate. Petiolar sides almost completely occupied by the base of the petiolar spines which are long, pointed and curved backwards. Petiolar dorsum with a superficial transversal carina delimiting the anterior and posterior faces and with another longitudinal carina on the middle. Dorsum of the postpetiole gently convex and with a reduced longitudinal carina on the posterior half only. Postpetiolar spines pointed and arising from the anterior side of the postpetiole.

Gaster round, with a broad, anterolateral lamella surpassing the gastral stigma posteriorly and continuing backwards as a thin carina up to the second third of the tergite.

Fore femora broader than the mid and hind ones. Fore femora dorsally with a marked longitudinal carina. Mid and hind femora with two medial teeth; mid and hind basitarsi laterally compressed and with broad base.

Sculpture. Head dorsum, mesosoma and pedicel minutely reticulate and covered with small foveae, oval and dense on the posterior fourth of the head, on the mesonotum and on the pedicel, sparser on the remaining parts of the head dorsum. Ventral face of the head minutely and superficially reticulate and with superficial, irregular foveae and irregular, thin, longitudinal rugosities, this sculpture less impressed on the ventral part corresponding to the vertexal angles. Dorsal third of the pleurae superficially reticulate and shining. Remaining part of the propleurae, declivous face of the propodeum and anterior half of the mesopleurae minutely reticulate, moderately shining, with rare, superficial foveae and with faint, thin, longitudinal rugosities. Remaining parts of the mesopleurae and metapleurae, distal half of the outer face of femora, outer face of the tibiae and first gastral tergite reticulate and with dense, oval foveae, more superficial on the gastral tergites. Anterior face of the femora, of the tibiae and tarsi superficially reticulate. Posterior face of the femora reticulate, with sparse, superficial foveae and covered with thick, longitudinal rugosities; the same type of sculpture but less impressed on the posterior face of the tibiae. First gastral sternite with superficial reticulation and shining medially. Few, thin, longitudinal rugosities on the sides of the first gastral sternite.

Pilosity. Each fovea with an appressed, thick, canaliculate hair. Border of the frontal carinae, of the pronotum, and legs with erect, short, rare, clavate hairs; similar hairs but slender and longer on the posterior border of the gastral tergites. Gastral sternites with minute, appressed, thin, pointed hairs and with rare, long, erect, thin pointed, hairs.

Colour. Black with the border of the pronotal lamellae and of the gastral lamellae ferruginous. Hairs whitish-golden.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 6.52-7.56; HL 156-1.76; HW 1.98-2.28; EL 0.52-0.60; PW 1.88-2.16; PeW 1.20-1.52; PpW 1.08-1.28; HBaL 0.76-0.86; HBaW 0.29-0.33; CI 125.6-130.8; PI 100.0-108.5; PPeI 134.2-156.7; PPpI 151.6-180.0; HBaI 37.2-38.8

Type Material

Holotype worker labelled: “Sta. Martha, Colombie (Forel)", in Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève.”


"Mompox" is the name of one of the Indian tribes of north Colombia.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Achury R., and A.V. Suarez. 2017. Richness and composition of ground-dwelling ants in tropical rainforest and surrounding landscapes in the Colombian Inter-Andean valley. Neotropical Entomology https://doi.org/10.1007/s13744-017-0565-4
  • Basset Y., L. Cizek, P. Cuenoud, R. K. Didham, F. Guilhaumon, O. Missa, V. Novotny, F. Odegaards, T. Roslin, J. Schmidl et al. 2012. Arthropod diversity in a tropical forest. Science 338(6113): 1481-1484.
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • 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