Crematogaster limata

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Crematogaster limata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Crematogaster
Species: C. limata
Binomial name
Crematogaster limata
Smith, F., 1858

Crematogaster limata casent0912774 p 1 high.jpg

Crematogaster limata casent0912774 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Label


A common generalist that inhabits wet forests from sea level to 1000m. It is most abundant in disturbed areas.


Longino (2003) - Species in the limata complex (Crematogaster brasiliensis, Crematogaster carinata, Crematogaster limata, and Crematogaster tenuicula in Costa Rica) all have abundant erect flexuous setae on the face, moderate length to short propodeal spines that are posteriorly directed, and elongate tapering petioles. The four species can be difficult to separate. They differ primarily in the nature of the ventral processes of the petiole and postpetiole. Crematogaster limata has neither petiolar nor postpetiolar processes, differentiating it from the other three. The propodeal spines are large relative to those of carinata and brasiliensis. Crematogaster limata may also be confused with Crematogaster foliocrypta, but foliocrypta has appressed rather than erect tibial pilosity.

Keys including this Species


Mexico to Bolivia and southern Brazil.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 38.440467° to -64.36°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Bolivia, Brazil (type locality), Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


Longino (2003) - Crematogaster limata is an extremely generalized species. It occurs most abundantly from sea level to 1000m elevation, where it can be found in wet forest or dry forest, second growth or mature vegetation. It is most abundant in disturbed vegetation in wet forest areas. It is most often encountered near ground level, along roadsides, at forest edges, or in the understory of second growth vegetation. I rarely find it in mature forest. Nests occur in almost any kind of small cavity. I most often find them in dead sticks, but other nest sites have included cavities in live stems of various plant species, an abandoned mud nest of a sphecid wasp, live internodes of Cecropia saplings, and rotting cacao pods.

Colonies may be small, with a single queen in a single nest. Larger colonies may fill many sticks and cavities scattered through a volume of a cubic meter or more, with a central nest containing the queen and abundant brood, and peripheral nests containing workers and brood or very often large aggregations of workers alone, with no brood. Colonies may be monogynous or polygynous. Many colonies that I have observed have contained a single queen, but polygynous colonies are also relatively common. One nest at Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve in Costa Rica contained 21 physogastric queens. Foundress queens are usually found alone; but I once observed a pair of founding queens together in a small stick, suggesting that pleometrosis occurs at least occasionally.

Workers are omnivorous foragers. They recruit to baits and frequently tend extrafloral nectaries and Homoptera. Workers can be found foraging day or night.

Wheeler (1986) observed a behavioral association between C. limata and the large ponerine ant Ectatomma tuberculatum on Barro Colorado Island in Panama. Ectatomma tuberculatum nests in the ground at the bases of trees. The nest entrance is surmounted by a 2-3cm wide thatch tube that extends about 15cm up the side of a tree trunk or smaller plant stem. Wheeler observed that polydomous C. limata nests were often located near the mouths of E. tuberculatum nests, and that C. limata carried out periodic “raids” into the these nests. The raids were abrupt and short-lived, with workers streaming into and out of a nest entrance for about an hour. Peak flux rates were about 170 workers entering and 170 workers exiting per 15 minute observation period. Wheeler writes “Encountering an E. tuberculatum, the smaller C. limata climbed up one of the larger ant's legs and onto its thorax and head. The E. tuberculatum worker stood still as the C. limata licked the dorsal surface, especially the head. E. tuberculatum did not react aggressively to the intruders. Occasionally, an E. tuberculatum worker opened her jaws as the C. limata licked the extended mouthparts. Then the C. limata worker climbed down and quickly left the nest.” Although Wheeler failed to observe the phenomenon during a brief visit to Finca La Pacifica in the dry forest habitat of northwestern Costa Rica, where she examined five E. tuberculatum nests, I suspect that the phenomenon occurs in Costa Rica. In the Atlantic lowlands I have seen several instances of large C. limata colonies with nests clustered in and around nest entrances of E. tuberculatum.

In the Santa Marta region, many C. limata nests contained abundant inquiline beetles in the genus Gnostus (Ptinidae).

Schmid, Langner et al. (2014) and Schmid, Morales et al. (2014) found this ant nesting in infructescences (the stem and remains of buds and fruits above the level of the water reservoir in the rosette) of the bromeliad Vriesea friburgensis on Santa Catarina Island, Brazil. Many of these nests contained predatory larvae of the syrphid fly Pseudomicrodon biluminiferus, which were feeding on the brood of the ants. De Oliveira et al. (2015), studying ant occupancy of Cecropia trees in southwest Bahia, Brazil, found a colony of Crematogaster limata opportunistically nesting in a Cecropia pachystachya tree.

While this species has been reported as forming ant gardens, confirmation is lacking. It has been confused with Crematogaster carinata and Crematogaster levior in the published literature, and has sometimes been given as Crematogaster limata parabiotica as well. While all of these species do form ant gardens, C. limata likely does not (see Orivel & Leroy (2011) for details).

Life History Traits

  • Queen number: monogynous (Frumhoff & Ward, 1992)



Images from AntWeb

Crematogaster limata casent0908434 h 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0908434 d 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0908434 p 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0908434 l 1 high.jpg
Syntype of Crematogaster limata palansWorker. Specimen code casent0908434. Photographer Z. Lieberman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MHNG, Geneva, Switzerland.
Crematogaster limata casent0908436 h 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0908436 p 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0908436 d 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0908436 l 1 high.jpg
Type of unavailable quadrinomial: Crematogaster limata parabiotica leviorWorker. Specimen code casent0908436. Photographer Z. Lieberman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MHNG, Geneva, Switzerland.
Crematogaster limata inbiocri002280498 h 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata inbiocri002280498 p 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata inbiocri002280498 d 1 high.jpg
Worker. Specimen code inbiocri002280498. Photographer C. Richart, uploaded by University of Utah. Owned by JTLC.
Crematogaster limata jtlc000002076 d 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata jtlc000002076 p 1 high.jpg
Specimen code jtlc000002076. .


Images from AntWeb

Crematogaster limata casent0628107 h 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0628107 p 1 high.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0628107. Photographer C. Richart, uploaded by University of Utah. Owned by JTLC.


Images from AntWeb

Crematogaster limata casent0902158 h 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0902158 p 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0902158 d 1 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0902158 p 2 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0902158 p 3 high.jpgCrematogaster limata casent0902158 l 1 high.jpg
Syntype of Crematogaster limataWorker. Specimen code casent0902158. Photographer Ryan Perry, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMUK, London, UK.


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • limata. Crematogaster limatus Smith, F. 1858b: 139 (w.q.m.) BRAZIL (Amazonas).
    • Type-material: syntype workers, syntype queen(s), syntype male(s) (numbers not stated).
    • Type-locality: Brazil: Amazonas, Ega (= Tefé) (Bates).
    • Type-depository: BMNH.
    • Combination in C. (Orthocrema): Wheeler, W.M. 1921f: 151.
    • Status as species: Mayr, 1863: 404; Roger, 1863b: 37; Mayr, 1870a: 404 (redescription); Mayr, 1870b: 990 (in key); Mayr, 1878: 875; Mayr, 1887: 623; Emery, 1890b: 53; Dalla Torre, 1893: 83; Emery, 1894k: 57; Forel, 1895b: 131; Forel, 1899c: 82; Forel, 1904e: 683; Forel, 1905b: 159; Forel, 1907a: 25; Forel, 1907e: 6; Forel, 1908c: 366; Forel, 1909a: 250; Forel, 1912f: 216; Forel, 1913l: 233; Wheeler, W.M. 1916c: 12; Mann, 1916: 443; Luederwaldt, 1918: 42; Wheeler, W.M. 1921f: 151; Wheeler, W.M. 1922c: 8; Emery, 1922e: 136; Wheeler, W.M. 1923a: 3; Wheeler, W.M. 1925a: 26; Borgmeier, 1927c: 95; Wheeler, W.M. & Bequaert, 1929: 31; Menozzi, 1935b: 195; Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 196; Kempf, 1961b: 504; Kempf, 1970b: 333; Kempf, 1972a: 88; Brandão, 1991: 338; Bolton, 1995b: 156; Longino, 2003a: 78 (redescription); Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012: 258; Bezděčková, et al. 2015: 117; Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 212 (redescription); Pedraza & Fernández, 2019: 896.
    • Senior synonym of ascendens: Longino, 2003a: 79; Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 212.
    • Senior synonym of dextella: Longino, 2003a: 79; Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 212.
    • Senior synonym of palans: Longino, 2003a: 79; Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 212.
    • Distribution: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru.
  • ascendens. Crematogaster (Eucrema) inca subsp. ascendens Wheeler, W.M. 1925a: 28 (w.) PERU.
    • Type-material: 6 syntype workers.
    • Type-locality: Peru: Santa Ana, 3000 ft, 3.viii.1911 (Yale Peruvian Expd.).
    • Type-depositories: MCZC, NHRS.
    • Subspecies of inca: Kempf, 1972a: 82; Bolton, 1995b: 148.
    • Junior synonym of limata: Longino, 2003a: 79; Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 212.
  • dextella. Crematogaster (Orthocrema) limata st. dextella Santschi, 1929f: 88, fig. 2 (w.) PANAMA (Barro Colorado I.).
    • Type-material: 6 syntype workers.
    • Type-locality: Panama: Canal Zone, Barro Colorado I., 17.vii.1927(G.C. Wheeler).
    • Type-depository: NHMB.
    • Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1952b: 258 (l.).
    • Subspecies of limata: Kempf, 1972a: 88; Bolton, 1995b: 152.
    • Junior synonym of limata: Longino, 2003a: 79; Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 212.
  • palans. Crematogaster limata var. palans Forel, 1912f: 216 (w.) PANAMA, BRAZIL (Pará, Espirito Santo).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-localities: Panama: (no further data) (Christophersen), Brazil: Pará (Goeldi), Brazil: Espirito Santo (Goeldi).
    • Type-depository: MHNG.
    • Wheeler, W.M. 1921f: 151 (q.); Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 197 (m.).
    • Combination in C. (Orthocrema): Emery, 1922e: 136.
    • Subspecies of limata: Wheeler, W.M. 1921f: 151; Emery, 1922e: 136; Wheeler, W.M. 1925a: 26; Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 196; Kempf, 1972a: 88; Bolton, 1995b: 159.
    • Junior synonym of limata: Longino, 2003a: 79; Morgan & Mackay, 2017: 212.

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



Longino (2003) - HL 0.676, 0.583, 0.720; HW 0.761, 0.634, 0.791; HC 0.726, 0.594, 0.739; SL 0.663, 0.616, 0.766; EL 0.161, 0.151, 0.192; A11L 0.296; A11W 0.140; A10L 0.130; A10W 0.098; A09L 0.083; A09W 0.081; A08L 0.069; A08W 0.062; WL 0.746, 0.681, 0.852; SPL 0.231, 0.177, 0.245; PTH 0.180, 0.158, 0.187; PTL 0.267, 0.248, 0.276; PTW 0.163, 0.144, 0.176; PPL 0.182, 0.165, 0.185; PPW 0.195, 0.165, 0.196; CI 113, 109, 110; OI 24, 26, 27; SI 98, 106, 106; PTHI 67, 64, 68; PTWI 61, 58, 64; PPI 107, 100, 106; SPI 31, 26, 29; ACI 0.32.

Color red brown; workers monomorphic in size.

Mandibles smooth and shining; clypeus varying from striate, with 5 or more longitudinal carinulae, to nearly smooth and shining, especially medially; head about as long as wide, subquadrate, with emarginate posterior border; antenna with terminal two segments enlarged to form a club, third segment from end somewhat enlarged, blurring distinction between two and three-segmented club; scapes with abundant long erect setae; when scapes laid back from antennal insertions, they surpass margin of vertex; face largely smooth and shining, with variable extent of striated region between antennal insertion and eye, and whorled above antennal insertion; face covered with abundant long flexuous white setae, no appressed pubescence; in face view abundant setae project from lateral and posterior margins.

Promesonotum in profile often formed of three planes, horizontal pronotal dorsum, somewhat elevated and downward sloping anterodorsal face of mesonotum, and more steeply sloping posterodorsal face of mesonotum; on smaller workers profile becomes more smoothly convex; propodeal suture deep in dorsal view but obscured in profile due to lateral carinulae that bridge the suture; posterior mesonotum curves smoothly into horizontal dorsal face of propodeum; propodeal spines long, projecting posteriorly such that they are more or less in same plane as dorsal face of propodeum, sometimes somewhat elevated; dorsal and posterior face of propodeum well differentiated, the dorsal face confluent with the horizontal spines, the posterior face sloping down to petiolar insertion; pronotal dorsum with variably developed longitudinal carinulae, strongest laterally, becoming weaker medially, interspaces smooth and shining, in some cases almost entirely smooth and shining with no carinulae; anterodorsal face of mesonotum with weak, subparallel lateral carinae, these continue onto posterodorsal face as stronger carinae that converge posteriorly, lateral carinae of the two faces meet at angulate to somewhat tuberculate juncture, interspace smooth and shining; dorsal face of propodeum faintly carinulate, posterior face smooth and shining; side of pronotum smooth and shining; katepisternum weakly to distinctly punctate; side of propodeum very faintly sculptured; mesosomal dorsum with abundant long flexuous white setae, setae on pronotal humeri longest; femora and tibiae with abundant long erect setae.

Petiole in side view subtriangular, weakly punctate to nearly smooth; anteroventral tooth usually absent or produced as a short right angle tooth (tooth more developed in South America than Central America); dorsal face of petiole smooth and shining, elongate, widest posteriorly, regularly tapering anteriorly, with long flexuous setae along posterior border; postpetiole lacking ventral tooth, globular in dorsal view, with abundant erect setae; fourth abdominal tergite smooth and shining, with abundant long flexuous erect white setae, no appressed pubescence.


Longino (2003) - A normal queen (dorsal face of propodeum drops steeply from postscutellum and much of propodeum appears ventral to scutellum and postscutellum) with general shape, sculpture, and pilosity characters of the worker; size characters as in Figures.

Type Material

Longino (2003) - Syntype worker, queen, male: Brazil, Amazonas, Ega (=Tefe) The Natural History Museum (examined).


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