Cephalotes trichophorus

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

De Andrade 1999 Cephalotes OCR - Copy-561 Cephalotes-trichophorus.jpg

Cephalotes trichophorus has been collected from canopy fogging samples.


A member of the coffeae clade differing from its sister species, Cephalotes coffeae, by the propodeal teeth smaller and with a broad space between the second and the third pair, and by the CI ≤ 1.06. (de Andrade and Baroni Urbani 1999)

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Brazil, 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.

  • trichophorus. Cephalotes trichophorus De Andrade, in De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 558, fig. 262 (w.) PERU.

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



Head slightly broader than long. Frontal carinae with strongly crenulate margin, straight over the eyes. Vertexal angles subtriangular and with crenulate border. Vertex without denticles. Vertexal margin concave. Mandibles laterally carinate.

Mesosoma. Scapular angles visible. Pronotal sides with a narrow, long, subdenticulate lamella. Promesonotal suture superficially impressed. Mesonotum with a pair of small denticles. Propodeal suture impressed. Propodeum with differentiate basal and declivous faces; propodeal sides with three pairs of small denticles, the third pair on the declivous face and distant from the two anterior pairs. Declivous face of the propodeum deeply concave.

Petiole slightly narrower than the postpetiole. Anterior face of the petiole truncate and superficially concave medially; petiolar sides with a pointed tooth. Postpetiole flat; postpetiolar sides with a broad expansion strongly directed anterolaterally and with crenulate apex.

Gaster suboval and with a pair of thick, narrow, anterolateral lamellae.

Fore coxae angulate. Mid and hind femora angulate. Mid and hind basitarsi flat and with parallel sides.

Sculpture. Head dorsum and most of the mesosoma minutely punctate and with dense foveae, shallower and sparser on the frontal carinae, absent on the propodeal concavity. Ventral face of the head punctate, with sparse and very shallow foveae on the anterior part. Pleurae punctate, longitudinally rugose and with small foveae on the lower part. Pedicel punctate and with superficial, slightly oval foveae. First gastral tergite reticulate; its anterior third and sides with superficial, oval foveae separate by irregular, longitudinal rugosities. Remaining gastral tergites and sternites punctate and superficially shining. First gastral sternite with additional, longitudinal rugosities on the anterior third and on the sides. Legs reticulate and with superficial, oval foveae more impressed on the distal part of the femora and on the outer face of the tibiae.

Pilosity. Each fovea with an appressed canaliculate hair; similar hairs but not originating from foveae and thinner on the first gastral tergite and on the legs. Margin of the frontal carinae, vertexal angles, mesosoma, apex of the peduncular spines, first gastral tergite, and legs with thick, clubbed hairs, slightly longer on the first gastral tergite. Gastral sternites with three types of hairs: (1) long and pointed on the whole sternites; (2) appressed and thin on the first sternite; (3) erect and truncate on the posterior border of the sternites. The hairs of type (3) are also present on the terminal tergites.

Colour. Black. Frontal carinae, tibiae. and tarsi brown. First gastral tergite anterolaterally with a pair of dark ferruginous or brown spots.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 3.18; HL 0.82 HW 0.85-0.87; EL 0.26; PW 0.76-0.77; PeW 0.47-0.49; PpW 0.51-0.53; HBaL 0.24; HBaW 0.06; CI 103.6-106.1; PI 11.8-113.0 ; PPeI 155.1-163.8; PPpI 143.4-151.0; HBaI 25.0.

Type Material

Holotype worker from Peru labelled: Madre de Dios: Cuzco Amazonico: 15 km NE of Puerto Maldonado, J. E. Tobin & S. P. Cover, VT-27-91 Museum of Comparative Zoology.


trichophorus (i. e. bearing hairs) is composed by the two ancient Greek words (hair) and (= to bear) and it has a similar meaning as the Latin setulifer, the name of one of its closest species.


  • 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 558, fig. 262 worker described)