An arboreal species found in tropical forests.
- 1 Identification
- 2 Distribution
- 3 Biology
- 4 Castes
- 5 Nomenclature
- 6 References
A member of the multispinosus clade differing from its sister species, Cephalotes goniodontus, in the worker and soldier, for the much longer propodeal lamellae, reaching the end of the propodeum posteriorly, and by the sparser foveae. C. multispinosus shares with goniodontus the propodeum with triangular, lamellaceous expansions narrowing posteriorly and the pointed peduncular spines. Small-size soldiers have pronotal carina but no cephalic disc while larger soldiers show a clear trace of disc margination. (de Andrade and Baroni Urbani 1999)
Keys including this Species
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
Distribution based on AntMaps
Distribution based on AntWeb specimens
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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.
- multispinosus. Cryptocerus multispinosus Norton, 1868a: 72, pl. 2, fig. 11 (s.w.) MEXICO. Norton, 1868c: 9 (s.); De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 314 (q.m.). Combination in Paracryptocerus: Kempf, 1951: 224; in Zacryptocerus: Hespenheide, 1986: 395; in Cephalotes: Baroni Urbani, 1998: 326; De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 311. Senior synonym of gibbosus: Emery, 1892b: 167.
- gibbosus. Cryptocerus gibbosus Smith, F. 1876d: 605, pl. 2, fig. 3 (not 2) (w.) MEXICO. Emery, 1890b: 73 (s.). Junior synonym of multispinosus: Emery, 1892b: 167.
de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Head subquadrate. Eyes convex. Vertexal angles obtuse, partially lamellaceous. Vertex concave posteriorly, with a pair of denticles on the middle. Sides of the head completely marginate below. Frontal carinae broad, strongly upturned over the eyes. Clypeal border incised medially. Mandibles with a lateral tooth.
Mesosoma convex in side view. Scapular angles absent. Humeral angles with a pair of rectangular, almost transparent lamellae; the lamellae directed laterally, their sides bidentate, the posterior border narrowing posteriorly (one specimen with a round tooth instead of the posteriorly converging part). Promesonotal suture superficially impressed. Mesonotal teeth small and pointed. Propodeal suture impressed. Propodeum sloping backwards and concave posteriorly, with slightly differentiated basal and declivous faces; propodeal sides with a pair of triangular, broad, lamellaceous teeth anteriorly, narrowing medially and a broadening posteriorly. Petiole slightly narrower than postpetiole, its anterior border with a median concavity, its dorsum sloping anteriorly. Petiolar spines curved backwards, pointed, their sides not continuous with the anterior border of the petiole. Postpetiolar node slightly convex and with a superficial concavity in the middle; postpetiolar spines curved, pointed, with the apices directed backwards.
Gaster with a lamellaceous anterior border reaching the first gastral stigma.
Hind femora with a pair of small denticles in the middle; mid and hind basitarsi laterally compressed, with the basal part slightly broader than the distal one.
Sculpture. Head dorsum and mesosoma covered by integumental reticulation intermediate between the one of biguttatus and the one of goniodontus; the reticulation superimposed by foveae smaller and shallower on the anterior half of the head and on the abdominal pedicel, the reticulation more impressed on the mesosoma. Frontal carinae superficially reticulate, with small, sparse, faint foveae. Ventral face of the head slightly stronger reticulate, with sparse, faint foveae. Posterior half of the propodeum reticulate. Sides of the Mesosoma reticulate, with rare to sparse foveae on the propleurae and dense, oval foveae on the posterior half of the mesopleurae and on the centre of the metapleurae. First gastral tergite reticulate and superimposed by superficial, small foveae. Corresponding sternite reticulate and slightly shining in the middle. Legs simply reticulate; distal half of femora and extensor face of tibiae covered with dense, oval foveae, this same sculpture but superficial and sparse on the remaining femora and tibiae.
Pilosity. Each fovea bearing an appressed canaliculate hair. Mandibles, vertexal angles, sides of the mesosoma, apex of the gaster and legs with slightly clavate hairs, the hairs longer on the legs and on the apex of the gaster. Sternites with rare, long, truncate hairs.
Colour. Black. Frontal carinae, lamellae of the vertexal angles, lamellae of the mesosoma, petiolar and postpetiolar spines and lamellae of the gaster yellow to orange. Extensor face of the tibiae and tarsomeres ferrugineous. Gaster with a yellow pair of anterolateral spots.
Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 5.10-6.00; HL 1.16-1.36; HW 1.48-1.68; EL 0.30-0.36; PW 1.24-1.52; PeW 0.71-0.77; PpW 0.80-0.88; HBaL 0.51-0.64; HBaW 0.15-0.16; CI 123.5-127.6; PI 110.5-119.3; PPeI 174.6-200.0; PPpI 155.0-172.7; HBaI 25.0-29.4.
de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Head subquadrate, with an incomplete disc; head dorsum slightly convex on the frons and weakly concave anterolaterally. Frontal carinae broad, slightly upturned and converging before the eyes. Vertexal angles with a short, broad, obtuse tooth. Vertex with a pair of well developed spines connected externally by a faint carina to the frontal carinae. Mandibles broad, their sides with an impressed, round, carinate protuberance. Eyes gently convex.
Mesosoma broad anteriorly, narrowing posteriorly. Pronotum with the anterior border convex; its sides with a pair of developed, bidentate, rectangular lamellae converging posteriorly. Pronotal carina well developed, raised and interrupted medially by an impression. Promesonotal suture weakly impressed. Mesonotum with a pair of short, pointed, lateral tooth. Propodeal suture deeply impressed. Propodeum sloping backwards and concave posteriorly, with slightly differentiated basal and declivous faces; propodeal sides with a pair of triangular or obtuse, broad, lamellaceous teeth anteriorly, with a thin and narrow lamella medially (absent in some specimens) and with a broad lamella posteriorly. Petiole slightly narrower than postpetiole; its anterior border with a median concavity, its dorsum sloping anteriorly. Petiolar spines curved backwards, pointed, their sides not continuous with the anterior border of the petiole. Postpetiolar node convex, with a superficial concavity in the middle; postpetiolar spines curved, pointed, with the apices pointing backwards.
Gaster oval and with an anterolateral lamella not surpassing the first stigma posteriorly.
Hind femora with a pair of denticles in the middle; mid and hind basitarsi laterally compressed, with the basal part slightly broader than the distal one.
Sculpture. Head dorsum superficially reticulate and with foveae as broad as their interspaces. Foveae on the head dorsum larger and deeper posteriorly, small and shallow anteriorly. Mesosoma reticulate, with foveae larger and deeper than on the posterior half of the head dorsum, the foveae more oval and denser on the propodeum and on the abdominal pedicel. Declivous face of the propodeum reticulate only. Sides of the mesosoma reticulate, with sparse foveae on the propleurae, with dense, oval foveae on the posterior half of the mesopleurae and on the centre of the metapleurae. First gastral tergite reticulate and superimposed with superficial piligerous foveae. Corresponding sternite reticulate and slightly shining in the middle. Legs as in the worker.
Pilosity. As in the worker.
Colour. Black. Frontal carinae, apex of the last funicular joint, lamellae of the vertexal angles, lamellae of the mesosoma, petiolar and postpetiolar spines and crest of the gaster orange. Extensor face of the tibiae and tarsomeres ferrugineous. Gaster with a dark yellow pair of anterolateral spots.
Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 7.12-7.88; HL 1.64-1.82; HW 2.14-2.44; EL 0.40-0.42; PW 2.00-2.32; PeW 0.86-1.00; PpW 0.98-1.20; HBaL 0.66-0.68; HBaW 0.19-0.20; CI 130.5-134.1; PI 105.2-107.0; PPeI 232.0-232.5; PPpI 193.3-204.1; HBaI 28.8-29.4.
de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Head subquadrate with an incomplete disc, slightly convex in the middle and little concave on the sides. Frontal carinae expanded anteriorly and straight posteriorly up to the vertexal angles. Vertexal angles with a broad, obtuse, lamellaceous tooth. Vertex bearing a pair of developed teeth connected laterally by a faint carina to the frontal carinae. Mandibles with a thick lateral carina.
Mesosoma: humeral angles with a broad, pointed, lamellaceous tooth. Pronotal carina with short crenulations, impressed on the sides and interrupted on the middle by a superficial sulcus. Mesonotum and scutellum flat in side view. Lower mesopleural side with an obtuse tooth. Basal face of the propodeum short, its middle almost on the same plane as the middle of the declivous face. Sides of the basal face of the propodeum irregularly convex, converging backwards. Declivous face of the propodeum converging posteriorly.
Petiole declivous in the middle, its anterior border concave; its sides moderately convex. Postpetiole broadly convex dorsally; sides of the postpetiole with a broad, almost round, anterior tumulus.
Gaster marginate up to the stigma, not strongly protruding anteriorly.
Legs. Fore coxae angulate. Mid and hind femora not angulate. Mid and hind basitarsi slightly compressed laterally; their proximal part slightly broader than the distal one.
Sculpture. Body faintly reticulate-punctate with small foveae with interspaces smaller than their maximum diameter, dense on the pronotal sides, on the propodeum, on the sides of the lower mesopleurae, on the upper mesopleurae, on the petiolar sides and on the postpetiole; sparser on the frontal carinae, on the middle of the ventral part of the head, on the pro- and metapleurae, rare on the centre of the pronotum, on the middle of the lower part of the mesopleura and on the declivous part of the petiole. Declivous face of the propodeum, legs and gaster superficially reticulate-punctate, slightly more impressed on the anterior third and on the sides of the first gastral sternite. Gastral dorsum with relatively dense, oval, superficial foveae. Outer face of the femora and tibiae covered by deeper foveae than those on the gaster.
Pilosity. Each fovea bears a thick, appressed, canaliculate hair, denser on the cheeks, on the propodeal dorsum, on the pedicel, on the upper part of the mesopleurae and on the outer face of the tibiae, similar hairs but thinner in the gastral foveae. Rare, slightly clavate, suberect hairs, independent from the foveae on most body parts, sparser and longer on the apex of the gaster.
Colour. Black. Frontal carinae, vertexal angles, pronotal carina, humeral angles, tarsomeres, ferrugineous. Anterolateral part of the first gastral tergite with a pair of broad, yellow spots reaching the stigma.
Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 11.34; HL 2.00; HW 2.40; EL 0.52; PW 2.56; PeW 0.92; PpW 1.16; HBaL 0.84; HBaW 0.28; CI 120.0; PI 93.7; PPeI 278.3; PPpI 220.7; HBal 33.3.
de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Head (eyes included and mandibles excluded) about 1/3 broader than long; vertexal margin straight and ending laterally in an almost round angle. Ocelli protuberant from the convex vertex. Eyes broadly convex and placed in the middle of the sides of the head. Frontal carinae diverging backwards and not reaching the posterior border of the eyes. Frons flat and separate from the clypeus by a superficial furrow. Clypeus slightly convex. Mandibles slender, laterally carinate. 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 broadening backwards, superficially carinate on the sides; mesonotum convex; median Mayrian carina and parapsidial furrows weakly impressed; scutellum convex, its sides converging posteriorly; propodeum with differentiated basal and declivous faces; basal face convex, its sides converging posteriorly towards the declivous face, the latter laterally carinate.
Petiole slightly narrower than the postpetiole and with a deeply concave anterior border; petiolar sides convex medially. Postpetiole little convex dorsally; postpetiolar sides with a small, obtuse denticle in the middle.
Gaster almost as broad as the mesosoma.
Wings: fore wings with R+Sc superficially connected to a marked pterostigma. 2r marked, Rsf5 connected with R1. Distal parts of A, Cu-Al and Mf4 vestigial. Hind wings with R, M+CuA, M and lA marked; CuA, M and distal part of lA vestigial.
Sculpture. The whole body reticulate-punctate. Head dorsum with small, sparse foveae; the same type of foveae but larger on the pronotum, on the mesonotum and on the scutellum. Petiocular area with transversal, thin rugosities. Ventral face of the head with anastomosing foveae. Propodeum and lower metapleurae with longitudinal rugosities. Pro-, meso-, and upper metapleurae with superficial, sparse foveae. First gastral segment with the reticulation less impressed than on the head and mesosoma. Remaining gastral segments and legs faintly reticulate and almost shining.
Pilosity. Head and mesosoma covered by dense, long, partly pointed and partly truncate, suberect hairs; the same type of hairs but sparser and subdecumbent on the pedicel and on the gaster. Funiculi densely covered by thin, short, decumbent hairs; similar but thinner, sparser and longer hairs on the legs and on the gaster.
Colour. Head and mesosoma black, pedicel lighter, mandibles, coxae and gaster reddishbrown. Antennae and legs yellow-orange. Wings y ellowish infuscate.
Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 6.80-7.02; HL 1.00-1.02; HW 1.28-1.32; EL 0.48-0.52; PW 1.38-1.44; PeW 0.56-0.58; PpW 0.60-0.64; HBaL 0.78-0,80; HBaW 0.12-0.13; CI 128.0-129.4; PI 88.9-95.6; PPeI 246.4-248.3; PPpI 225.0-230.0; HBaI 15.0-16.7.
- Cryptocerus gibbosus: Holotype, worker, Mexico, The Natural History Museum; see De Andrade & Baroni Urbani (1999).
de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999):
Worker and soldier. Type locality: Cordoba (Mexico). Type material: original specimens presumable lost.
Cryptocerus gibbosus. Soldier. Type locality: Mexico. Type material: Holotype soldier labeled “Mexico” in The Natural History Museum, examined.
- Baroni Urbani, C. 1998b. The number of castes in ants, where major is smaller than minor and queens wear the shield of the soldiers. Insectes Soc. 45: 315-333 (page 326, Combination in Cephalotes)
- 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 314, queen, male described, page 311, Combination in Cephalotes)
- Emery, C. 1892c . Note sinonimiche sulle formiche. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 23: 159-167 (page 167, Senior synonym of gibbosus)
- Kempf, W. W. 1951. A taxonomic study on the ant tribe Cephalotini (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Rev. Entomol. (Rio J.) 22: 1-244 (page 224, Combination in Paracryptocerus)
- Norton, E. 1868a. Notes on Mexican ants. Am. Nat. 2: 57-72 (page 72, pl. 2, fig. 11 soldier, worker described)
- Norton, E. 1868c. Description of Mexican ants noticed in the American Naturalist, April, 1868. Proc. Essex Inst. (Commun.) 6: 1-10 (page 9, soldier described)