Cephalotes setulifer

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Cephalotes setulifer
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cephalotes
Species: C. setulifer
Binomial name
Cephalotes setulifer
(Emery, 1894)

Cephalotes setulifer P casent0627974.jpg

Cephalotes setulifer D casent0627974.jpg

Specimen Label


This species apparently does well in disturbed habitats as it has been collected many times in early successional vegetation.


A member of the coffeae clade differing from Cephalotes bloosi by a number of traits already listed in the discussion of bloosi, and from Cephalotes peruviensis by the postpetiolar dorsum with two pairs of standing hairs (instead of one) and by the frontal carinae straight above the eyes; the soldier and gyne differ from all the other species of the clade by having the disc covering the mandibles. Cephalotes setulifer, for its general habitus, is more similar to the cladistically distant Cephalotes trichophorus than to the closer peruviensis. It differs, however, from trichophorus by the shorter petiolar and postpetiolar spines, by the third pair of propodeal spines not very distant from the two anterior ones and by the first gastral sternite without longitudinal rugosities. (de Andrade and Baroni Urbani 1999)

Keys including this Species


Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Colombia, Costa Rica (type locality), Honduras, Panama.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb



Wheeler and Holldobler (1985) investigated how Cepholates workers might collect or accumulate debri on their head disks. Such debri can be used as camaflouge for individuals that are using their head to block the nest entrance, much like Basicerotini and Stegomyrmicini ant species affix dirt their bodies. They discovered Cephalotes setulifer do in fact have encrusted material on their head disks. This varied from slight to extremely built-up material. Unexpectedly these covering materials appeared to be produced by the ants, rather than an accumulation of material that was affixed and somehow binded to the head disk. The presence of many pores, which are presumably attached to glands, are the likely source of secreted fibrous and filmy substances that were detected.

They also discovered: "Z. setulifer (Figs. 10-11). The MCZ collection includes 3 queens and soldier of this little-known species. The heads of all 4 specimens are caked with debris. We examined one queen and found that the material encrusting the head appeared more solid than that seen in the other species. Brush setae on the head, as far as they can be seen (Fig. 10b), were not a,s complex as those on Z. pallens porrasi (Cephalotes porrasi). On the thorax, where the hairs were visible, were two layers of setae: erect brush hairs and a lower layer of flattened appressed setae (Fig. 11). The same pattern was found on the thorax of the soldier."



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • setulifer. Cryptocerus setulifer Emery, 1894c: 211, pl. 4, figs. 34-37 (w.q.) COSTA RICA. Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 211 (s.m.). Combination in Cryptocerus (Cyathocephalus): Emery, 1915i: 192; in Paracryptocerus (Cyathomyrmex): Kempf, 1958a: 146; in Zacryptocerus: Brandão, 1991: 388; in Cephalotes: De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 551. Senior synonym of orbis: Kempf, 1958a: 146.
  • orbis. Cryptocerus setulifer r. orbis Forel, 1906d: 231 (s.w.) COSTA RICA. Combination in Cryptocerus (Cyathocephalus): Emery, 1924d: 311. Junior synonym of setulifer: Kempf, 1958a: 146.

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



Kempf (1958) - Total length 3.4-4.4 mm; maximum length of head 1.00-1.18 mm; maximum length of thorax 1.03-1.25 mm. Black; the following testaceous: frontal carinae, tip of last funicular segment, tip of femora, extensor face of tibiae; ferruginous or reddish brown: apex of mandibles, edge of frontal carinae, tip of scape, funicular segment I, tarsites II-V, posterior border of gastral tergites; an oval pale testaceous or whitish spot on each of the anterior corners of the first gastral tergite.

Head opaque, subquadrate, its maximum length subequal to, or often slightly exceeding the interocular width. Supramandibular excision narrow. Clypeal sutures vestigial or absent. Anterior half of the usually noticeable crenulate frontal carinae obliquely converging cephalad, the lateral borders of head subparallel, rather straight, not excised in front, nor upturned above, eyes. Occipital lobes obliquely truncate. Occipital border gently emarginate. Dorsal face of head gently convex, finely but sharply punctate, more coarsely reticulate-rugose, the rugosities feeble discad, shallowly foveolate. Lower face of head finely reticulate-punctate, with sparse somewhat irregular longitudinal rugosities.

Thorax opaque, its anterior border gently arched. Scapular angle free, not incorporated in the lateral pronotal crest, lying somewhat below the anteriormost tooth of the pronotal crest, but perfectly visible when insect is viewed from the front. Lateral pronotal crest bidentate anteriorly, the first tooth more conspicuous, the second sometimes only vestigial, followed by an usually straight, seldom denticulate, crest, forming posteriorly an obtuse angle, before joining the mesonotum. Promesonotal suture vestigial or obsolete. Lateral lobe of mesonotum angulate or rounded, little projecting, usually not acutely dentate. Mesoepinotal suture impressed. Lateral border of epinotum tridentate, counting the feeble, subdentiform anterior corner and the usually minute, often only vestigial denticle at the junction of the declivous face. The second tooth most prominent. Entire thorax finely punctate, the dorsum also reticulate-rugose and foveolate. Sides of thorax with a few more or less horizontal rugosities on the laterotergite of pronotum and the bottom half of the pleura. Fore coxae not striate. Hind femora fusiform.

Peduncular segments opaque, finely punctate, densely but shallowly foveolate on dorsum. Petiole with a somewhat oblique, slightly shinier, anterior face, and a tooth on each side, facing obliquely caudad. Postpetiole flat on dorsum. Its lateral appendages more prominent, with rather strongly recurved tips (assuming the shape of an eagle's beak!).

Gaster opaque, oval. First gastral tergite finely and sharply punctured, its anterolateral lobes prominent and rounded, its lateral border marginate on the anterior half. First sternites reticulate-punctate, shinier, especially discad.

Standing hair long and flexuous on gastral sternites; shorter and straight posterolaterally and along the borders of the first gastral tergite; still shorter, and somewhat thickened on tip of thoracic and peduncular teeth, on the border of epinotum, sporadically, rare, not regularly dispersed, on the rest of the thoracic dorsum, sparse and oblique on legs; very short clavate at tip, along the crenulate border of frontal carinae and the lateral border of head, back to the occipital lobe. Scalelike, appressed, silvery or whitish, canaliculate, somewhat elongate hair very prominent in foveolae of dorsum of head, cheeks, dorsum of thorax, bottom half of pleura, dorsum of peduncle, extensor face of femora and tibiae; thinner, simple but still very conspicuous and relatively crowded on first gastral tergite.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 3.64-4.60; HL 0.94-1.08; HW 1.00-1.20; EL 0.26-0.29; PW 0.79-1.03; PeW 0.43-0.57; PpW 0.50-0.64; HBaL 0.31-0.40; HBaW 0.09-0.12; CI 106.4-111.0; PI 115.8-126.6; PPeI 180.7-190.0; PPpI 158.0-166.7; HBaI 27.8-30.0.


Kempf (1958) - Total length 5.0-5.2 mm; maximum length of head 1.53-1.57 mm; maximum length of thorax 1.43-1.46 mm. Black; light color as in worker except for the head, which is completely black.

Head opaque, surmounted by a broadly oval, completely rimmed, excavate disc, the posterior end being narrower. Border of disc not as sharp as in pallens and varians. Floor of disc with a median convexity, slightly in front of the center, which is invisible, when head is seen in profile. Supramandibular excision obsolete, indicated by a longitudinal slit. Occipital lobes bluntly angulate. Occipital portion of disc not overhanging the more or less perpendicularly truncated occiput. Floor of disc more or less reticulate-rugose and coarsely foveolate, the foveolae on disc being unequal in size. Lower face of head rather shiny and longitudinally rugose.

Thorax opaque. Anterior border convex mesially, slightly concave laterally, mesad of the prominent lateral tooth. Transverse pronotal carina feebly developed, blunt, broadly interrupted mesially. Lateral border of pronotum somewhat sinuous. Promesonotal suture present or at least vestigial. Lateral lobe of mesonotum angulate or rounded. Mesoepinotal suture impressed. Anterior corner of basal face of epinotum subdentiform, followed posteriorly by a triangular tooth and another smaller, rectangular tooth on the posterior corner. Declivous face scarcely excavated, its lateral borders marginate, not crested. The entire thorax finely and sharply punctate, the dorsum reticulate-rugose and foveolate, the sides with a few fine more or less vestigial rugosities, especially on the laterotergite of the pronotum and the bottom half of the pleura.

Peduncular segments, gaster and pilosity, in general, as in worker. Gaster often more elongate. Sides of head and lateral rim of cephalic disc with rather long, clavate, dense projecting setae.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 5.26-5.36; HL 1.36-1.48; HW 1.28-1.36; EL 0.31-0.32; PW 1.20-1.28; PeW 0.57; PpW 0.64-0.72; HBaL 0.40; HBaW 0.12-0.14; CI 91.9-100.0; PI 106.2-106.7; PPeI 210.5-224.6; PPpI 177.8-191.0; HBaI 30.0-35.0.


Kempf (1958) - Total length 7.1 mm; maximum length of head 1.57 mm; maximum length of thorax 2.10 mm. Resembling the soldier, except for the peculiarities of the caste.

Extensor face of tibiae more infuscated. Anterolateral gastral spots small, pale testaceous. Cephalic disc as in soldier, but flatter, less distinctly excavated, and when seen in profile, obliquely truncate above and behind, separating from the disc a narrow sickle-shaped band, which slopes toward occiput, being separated from the anterior portion of the disc by a marginate edge. Anteriormost ocellus in front of this carina, the posterior pair in the sickleshaped area, lying in deeply excavate pits, facing laterad. (This feature is well represented in Emery’s figures, 1894.) Basal face of epinotum with a short lateral and another similar tooth on the posterior corner. Sides of petiole practically unarmed. Gaster more elongate, its anterolateral spots very small. Standing hair much more abundant, rather evenly dispersed on dorsum of thorax, peduncle and gaster, and on the sides of the head. Scalelike hair instead less conspicuous, minute on gaster. Wings unknown.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 6.88-7.32; HL 1.56-1.60; HW 1.32-1.36; EL 0.32; PW 1.32; PeW 0.58-0.60; PpW 0.68-0.73; HBaL 0.48; HBaW 0.16-0.17; CI 100.0; PI 100.0-103.0; PPeI 220.0-227.6; PPpI 180.8-194.1; HBaI 33 .3-35.4.


Wheeler (1942) - Length 3.8-4 mm.

Head, including the eyes, fully twice as broad as long, with a straight, broad posterior border and small rounded angles. Eyes and ocelli very convex. Mandibles very small, with very indistinctly and bluntly denticulate apical borders. Clypeus small and short, its anterior border entire and broadly rounded. Antennae very long, the scapes only one and one half times as long as broad, the remaining joints much longer than broad, diminishing in length to the penultimate which is about two-thirds as long as the last joint. Thorax broad and convex, decidedly narrower than the head; humeri of pronotum rectangular; mesonotum as long as broad, subrectangular, with well-developed Mayrian furrows dividing it into three subequal convex areas. Epinotum small and short, with subequal base and declivity, meeting at a rounded right angle. Petiole and postpetiole from above subrectangular, about as long as broad, the latter at its anterior corners with short broad teeth representing those on the corresponding segment of the other phases. Gaster slender, the first segment as long as all the remaining segments together. Legs moderately long.

Head, including the mandibles, thorax, petiole and postpetiole opaque, densely and finely punctate-rugose; gaster and legs slightly shining and merely densely punctate.

Hairs long, abundant, dull yellowish, erect, confined to the dorsal surface of the head and thorax, the tip of the gaster and flexor surfaces of the femora.

Black; antennae dark brown; tibiae and terminal tarsal joints reddish brown; genitalia and posterior borders of gastral segments golden brown or brownish yellow; wings colorless, hyaline, with pale brown pterostigma and yellowish veins.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 5.04; HL 0.76; HW 1.04; EL 0.35; PW 1.00; PeW 0.40; PpW 0.40; HBaL 0.56; HBaW 0 .07; CI 136.8; PI 104.0; PPeI 250.0; PPpI 250.0; HBaI 12.5.

Type Material

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Worker, gyne. Type locality: Jimenez (Costa Rica). Type material: 2 syntype workers and 1 syntype gyne in the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa, labelled: "Jimenez, C. Rica", examined.

Cryptocerus setulifer orbis. Worker and soldier. Type locality: El Hiquito near San Mateo (Costa Rica). Type material: 1 syntype worker and 1 syntype soldier in the Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève, examined.


  • Brandão, C. R. F. 1991. Adendos ao catálogo abreviado das formigas da região Neotropical (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Rev. Bras. Entomol. 35: 319-412 (page 388, Combination in Zacryptocerus)
  • 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 551, Combination in Cephalotes)
  • Emery, C. 1894d. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. VI-XVI. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 26: 137-241 (page 211, pl. 4, figs. 34-37 worker, queen described)
  • Emery, C. 1915g. Noms de sous-genres et de genres proposés pour la sous-famille des Myrmicinae. Modifications à la classification de ce groupe (Hymenoptera Formicidae). Bull. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 1915: 189-192 (page 192, 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 146, Combination in Paracryptocerus (Cyathomyrmex), page 146, Senior synonym of orbis)
  • Wheeler, D. E.; Hölldobler, B. 1986 ("1985"). Cryptic phragmosis: the structural modifications. Psyche (Cambridge) 92:337-353. [1986-04-27] PDF
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1942. Studies of Neotropical ant-plants and their ants. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 90: 1-262 (page 211, soldier, male described)