Cephalotes patellaris

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Cephalotes patellaris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cephalotes
Species: C. patellaris
Binomial name
Cephalotes patellaris
(Mayr, 1866)

De Andrade 1999 Cephalotes OCR - Copy-471 Cephalotes-patellaris.jpg

Nothing is known about the biology of Cephalotes patellaris.


A member of the pallens clade characterised by the following apomorphies: in the worker the propodeum with broad, strongly crenulate membranaceous expansions, petiolar spines 1.3 times longer than the maximum petiolar length; in the soldier and in the gyne by the head disc with spaced foveae, by the foveal hairs suberect; in the soldier only by the hind femora strongly carinate; and, in the gyne only, by the almost round head. (de Andrade and Baroni Urbani 1999)

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Brazil (type locality).

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.

  • patellaris. Cryptocerus patellaris Mayr, 1866b: 907, pl. 20, fig. 15 (q.) BRAZIL. De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 468 (s.w.). Combination in Cryptocerus (Cyathocephalus): Emery, 1924d: 311; in Cephalotes: De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 467. Subspecies of pallens: Emery, 1894c: 213. Junior synonym of pallens: Kempf, 1958a: 151. Revived from synonymy: De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 467.

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



de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Similar to the other species of the group from which it differs for one or more of the following characters. Head broader than long. Frontal carinae with minutely crenulate border in some specimens. Membranaceous expansions of the vertexal angles broad and crenulate. Pronotal sides with a pair of broad, membranaceous expansions with crenulate borders, the crenulation stronger in larger specimens. Mesonotal sides with a pair of triangular, membranaceous teeth generally rounded; some specimens with an additional pair of minute dentieles. Propodeal sides with a pair of broad, membranaceous expansions broadening posteriorly. Anterior border of the petiole concave and with a salient pair of swellings. Petiolar sides with a pair of pointed spines slightly longer than their maximum length. Postpetiolar sides with a pair of pointed spines directed forwards. Gaster oval and with a pair of broad, anterolateral membranaceous expansions surpassing the stigma posteriorly and continuing to the posterior border of the first tergite as a marked margin. Hind and mid femora angulate; their distal part with a dorsal longitudinal crest much narrower on the mid femora. Mid and hind basitarsi flat, with the proximal part broader than the distal one.

Sculpture. Head dorsum and mesosoma minutely reticulate-punctate with superimposed deep, dense foveae, smaller and less regular on the frontal carinae; some specimens with additional oblique, thin rugosities on the frontal carinae. Ventral part of the head reticulate and with small, irregular foveae on the anterior half; some specimens with additional irregular, longitudinal rugosities on the whole ventral part of the head. Pedicel minutely reticulate-punctate and with dense, small, slightly irregular foveae. Pleurae strongly reticulate and with thin, longitudinal rugosities. Anterior third of the first gastral tergite strongly reticulate and with superficial, irregular foveae separate by longitudinal rugosities; similar sculpture on the remaining first gastral tergite but less impressed. Gastral sternites strongly reticulate and with thin, slightly irregular rugosities. Legs strongly reticulate and with minute, superficial, foveae, more impressed and denser on the outer face of the tibiae, larger on the dorsum of the fore femora; some specimens with short, longitudinal rugosities on the posterior face of the hind femora.

Pilosity. Body foveae with appressed hairs, sometimes decumbent on the head. Frontal carinae, vertexal angles, and, to a lesser extent, dorsum of the first gastral tergite, and legs with thick clubbed hairs. Posterior border of the remaining gastral segments with hairs slightly thinner and longer than those on the border of the frontal carinae. Gastral sternites with additional, rare, long, pointed hairs.

Colour. Brown to black with the frontal carinae and the membranaceous expansions of the body slightly lighter.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 3.74-5.14; HL 0.85-1.14; HW 0.99-1.36; EL 0.22-0.30; PW 0.80-1.22; PeW 0.58-0.77; PpW 0.56-0.70; HBaL 0.23-0.32; HBaW 0.10-0.14; CI 116.5-119.3; PI 111.5-123.7; PPeI 137.9-155.4; PPpI 142.8-174.3; HBaI 43.5-43.7.


de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Head disc suboval, slightly longer than broad. Border of the disc strongly raised and with the posterior half with minutely crenulate margin. Floor of the disc medially with a pointed tumulus. Vertex with a superficial depression.

Mesosoma. Humeral angles with a pair of obtuse, semi-membranaceous teeth. Pronotal sides gently converging posteriorly. Pronotal carina well rnarked, with variably crenulate margin and shortly interrupted medially. Mesonotal sides with a pair of broad, triangular teeth, or with almost round tip and with an additional pair of minute dentieles in some specimens. Propodeum with differentiate basal and deelivous faces; sides of the basal face superficially notched or gently convex and followed by a pair of short, stout teeth curved upwards in large specimens; small specimens with narrow membranaceous expansions only.

Pedicel as in the worker but with narrower and shorter spines.

Mid and hind femora dorsally angulate and with a pair of distal carinae stronger on the hind femora. Mid and hind basitarsi flat, broader proximally than distally.

Gaster oval and with a pair of protruding lobes.

Sculpture. Head dorsum minutely punctate, variably shining and with large foveae, smaller on the tumulus and sparse to rare on the frontal carinae; the foveae denser almost on the whole disc in small specimens. Sides of the head disc punctate, densely and irregularly foveolate-rugulose, the foveae diminishing in size anteriorly. Ventral part of the head punctate, variably shining and covered by irregular, longitudinal rugosities and foveae. Vertexal angles and mesosoma minutely reticulate-punctate and with dense foveae, larger on the vertexal angles and on the pronotum. Pedicel with sculpture similar to the one on the propodeum but with smaller foveae. Pleurae strongly reticulate; propleurae longitudinally irregularly foveolate-rugose, the rugae slightly transversal in some specimens; meso- and metapleurae with small, shallow, sparse foveae and few, longitudinal, thin rugosities, the foveae rare on the metapleurae. Gaster and legs with sculpture similar to the one of the worker; large specimens with the gaster covered by deep longitudinal rugosities.

Pilosity. Each fovea on the head dorsum with a suberect hair; those on the remaining body parts with an appressed or decumbent hair. Borders of the disc and sides of the head with many suberect, long, clavate hairs, shorter on the antero-ventral part of the disc. Pronotum, gaster and legs with rare, clubbed hairs. Parts of the gaster and legs without foveae with short, appressed, thin hairs. Gastral sternites with additional rare, long, pointed hairs.

Colour. Dark brown to black.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 6.55-7.40; HL 1.68-1.96; HW 1.72-1.88; EL 0.34-0.36; PW 1.72-1.86; PeW 0.76-0.86; PpW 0.73-0.83; HBaL 0.33-0.37; HBa W 0.14-0.15; CI 95.9-102.4; PI 100.0-101.1; PPeI 216.3-226.3; PPpI 224.1-235.6; HBaI 40.5-42.4.


de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Differing from the soldier in the following details. Head more round. Sides of the disc with the bord ers slightly lower and with the margin more crenulate. Vertex with deeper median depression.

Mesosoma. Humeral angles with a pair of short, triangular teeth or simply obtuse. Pronotal carina lower. Pronotum, mesonotum and scutellum flat in side view. Sides of the basal face of the propodeum anteriorly convex and posteriorly with a small pair of teeth with or pointed tip and slightly diverging laterally.

Petiole. Anterior face oblique and slightly concave. Petiolar sides with a pair of pointed denticles. Postpetiolc convex dorsally and with broad lateral spines with truncate apex and pointed backwards.

Gaster. Similar to that of the soldier but much longer.

Legs with less impressed carinae on the outer face of the femora.

Sculpture. Foveae of the head dorsum larger than in the soldier and often denser. Mesonotal foveae slightly shallower. Foveae on the basal face of the propodeum smaller. Pleurae reticulate. Propleurae with thin, superficial, slightly longitudinal rugosities. Border of the lower metapleurae with thin, longitudinal rugosities. Upper part and center of the lower mesopleurae with small foveae, deeper and denser on the upper mesopleurae.

Pilosity. As in the soldier except for the clubbed hairs thinner, longer and more abundant on the gaster and on the legs and also present on the whole mesosoma and on the pedicel.

Colour. Dark brown to black.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 8.36-9.04; HL 1.68; HW 1.60-1.64; EL 0.35-0.36; PW 1.56-1.60; PeW 0.68-0.71; PpW 0.79-0.83; HBaL 0.44-0.46; HBaW 0.18-0.20; CI 95.2-97.6; PI 100.0-105.1; PPeI 219.7-235.3; PPpI 187.9-202.5; HBaI 40.9-43.5.

Type Material

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Gyne. Type locality: Brazil. Type material: holotype gyne (dealate) labelled "Brasil, F. Sahlli, Cryptocerus patellaris, Typ., Mayr" in Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, examined.


  • 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 468, soldier, worker described, page 467, Combination in Cephalotes,page 467, Revived from synonymy)
  • Emery, C. 1894d. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. VI-XVI. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 26: 137-241 (page 213, Variety of pallens)
  • Emery, C. 1924f [1922]. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [concl.]. Genera Insectorum 174C: 207-397 (page 311, Combination in Cryptocerus (Cyathocephalus))
  • Kempf, W. W. 1958a. New studies of the ant tribe Cephalotini (Hym. Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. (n.s.) 1: 1-168 (page 151, Junior synonym of pallens)
  • Mayr, G. 1866b. Diagnosen neuer und wenig gekannter Formiciden. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 16: 885-908 (page 907, pl. 20, fig. 15 queen described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Arruda F. V., M. A. Pesquero, D. G. Marcelino, G. A. Leiter, J. H. C. Delabie, and R. Fagundes. 2015. Size and condition of bamboo as structural factors behind the vertical stratification of the bamboo-nesting ant community. Insectes Sociaux DOI 10.1007/s00040-015-0440-4
  • 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