Cephalotes peruviensis

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

Cephalotes peruviensis D inbiocri002281725.jpg

Nothing is known about the biology of Cephalotes peruviensis.


A member of the coffeae clade differing from its closest species Cephalotes setulifer, Cephalotes trichophorus and Cephalotes coffeae by the frontal carinae strongly upturned over the eyes. For its general habitus peruviensis appears to be closest to the Colombian coffeae. The two species differ nonetheless in the following characters: anterolateral expansions of the first gastral tergite with a lamella broad in peruviensis vs. narrow in coffeae, first gastral tergite with longitudinal rugosities in coffeae vs. reticulate in peruviensis and body with foveae sparser in peruviensis than in coffeae.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru (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 New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • peruviensis. Cephalotes peruviensis De Andrade, in De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 555, fig. 261 (w.) PERU.

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



Head gently convex in the middle, subquadrate. Frontal carinae diverging backwards, slightly converging in front and strongly upturned above the eyes; border of the frontal carinae crenulate. Vertexal angles truncate and with crenulate margin. Vertexal margin concave and continuing medially in a prominent "neck". Clypeal suture superficially impressed. Mandibles with a lateral carina.

Mesosoma almost flat in profile. Scapular angles visible in dorsal view. Pronotal sides with two pairs of short, membranaceous teeth followed by a notch and three pairs of dentieles. Promesonotal suture vestigial. Mesonotum with a pair of triangular denticles with pointed tip. Propodeal suture more impressed on the sides. Propodeum superficially differentiated in basal and declivous faces; declivous face concave in the middle. Propodeal sides with one pair of broad denticles followed by two pairs of teeth, the first pair broader than the second one.

Petiole with anterior face sloping, posterior face flat to slightly concave. Petiolar sides with a pointed spine gently directed backwards. Postpetiole slightly broader than petiole; middle of the postpetiolar dorsum almost flat; postpetiolar spines broad, directed forwards and curved at the apex. Tip of the postpetiolar spines superficially crenulate.

Gaster oval. Anterolateral gastral lobes with developed membranaceous crest not surpassing the stigma backwards.

Hind femora medially angulate; mid and hind basitarsi long, slightly flattened at the base.

Sculpture. Head dorsum superficially reticulate and covered by foveae slightly broader than their interspaces, the same sculpture but sparser on the frontal carinae. Ventral face of the head reticulate and with sparse, superficial foveae smaller than those on the head dorsum. Mesosoma with the same type of sculpture as the head dorsum but the foveae are broader than their interspaces and superimposed by few, irregular, faint rugulosities. Middle of the declivous face of the propodeum reticulate. Pleurae reticulate, with longitudinal rugae ending at the beginning of the metapleurae and with small foveae on the ventral part of the meso- and metapleurae. Petiole, postpetiole, extensor face of femora and tibiae and anterior third of the first gastral tergite reticulate-foveolate, with foveae smaller and shallower than those on the mesosoma. Anterior and posterior faces of the legs and remaining gastral segments strongly reticulate and with sparse, small piligerous foveae. First half of the first gastral tergite with superficial, longitudinal rugulosities. Middle of the posterior half of the first gastral sternites shining.

Pilosity. Each fovea with an appressed canaliculate hair. Mandibles, border of the head, of the mesosoma, of the pedicel, of the gaster and whole legs with sparse, suberect, canaliculate hairs. Apex of the tergites and sternites with two types of erect hairs: (1) short, sparse and slightly canaliculate, (2) long, rare and pointed.

Colour. Basically dark brown. Frontal carinae, mesosoma and peduncular spines, apex of femora, outer face of the tibiae and tarsomeres yellowish. First gastral tergite with a pair of yellow spots anterolaterally.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 4.32; HL 1.00; HW 1.20; EL 0.30; PW 0.92; PeW 0.50; PpW 0.54; HBaL 0.40; HBaW 0.10; CI 120.0; PI 130.4; PPeI 184.0; PPpI 170.4; HBaI 25.0.

Type Material

Worker (unique) from Avispas, Peru (Madre de Dios), 400 m, 1-15.X.1962, Pena leg., Museum of Comparative Zoology.


Peruviensis is a neologism indicating the provenance of the species from Peru.


  • 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 555, fig. 261 worker described)