Cyphomyrmex foxi

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Cyphomyrmex foxi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cyphomyrmex
Species: C. foxi
Binomial name
Cyphomyrmex foxi
André, 1892

Cyphomyrmex foxi casent0915361 p 1 high.jpg

Cyphomyrmex foxi casent0915361 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

A collection of workers was made by C.T. Brues in Newton, Jamaica at an altitude of 3000 feet in January of 1912.


Snelling and Longino (1992) - A distinctive species of Cyphomyrmex, being one of the few known species in the rimosus group in which the breadth of the frontal lobes is less than the distance between the inner margins of the eyes. In this respect it is approached by Cyphomyrmex podargus but in that species the width of the frontal lobes equals or slightly exceeds the interocular distance. The two differ, moreover, in that the dorso-lateral lobes of the post-petiole are elevated and somewhat spine-like in profile in C. foxi, while they are low, rounded, and inconspicuous in C. podargus.


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 17.98333333° to 17.98333333°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Ecuador, Greater Antilles, Jamaica (type locality).

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.


Explore-icon.png Explore Fungus Growing 
For additional details see Fungus growing ants.

A handful of ant species (approx. 275 out of the known 15,000 species) have developed the ability to cultivate fungus within their nests. In most species the fungus is used as the sole food source for the larvae and is an important resource for the adults as well. Additionally, in a limited number of cases, the fungus is used to construct part of the nest structure but is not as a food source.

These fungus-feeding species are limited to North and South America, extending from the pine barrens of New Jersey, United States, in the north (Trachymyrmex septentrionalis) to the cold deserts in Argentina in the south (several species of Acromyrmex). Species that use fungi in nest construction are known from Europe and Africa (a few species in the genera Crematogaster, Lasius).

The details of fungal cultivation are rich and complex. First, a wide variety of materials are used as substrate for fungus cultivating. The so-called lower genera include species that prefer dead vegetation, seeds, flowers, fruits, insect corpses, and feces, which are collected in the vicinity of their nests. The higher genera include non leaf-cutting species that collect mostly fallen leaflets, fruit, and flowers, as well as the leafcutters that collect fresh leaves from shrubs and trees. Second, while the majority of fungi that are farmed by fungus-feeding ants belong to the family Lepiotaceae, mostly the genera Leucoagaricus and Leucocoprinus, other fungi are also involved. Some species utilise fungi in the family Tricholomataceae while a few others cultivate yeast. The fungi used by the higher genera no longer produce spores. Their fungi produce nutritious and swollen hyphal tips (gongylidia) that grow in bundles called staphylae, to specifically feed the ants. Finally, colony size varies tremendously among these ants. Lower taxa mostly live in inconspicuous nests with 100–1000 individuals and relatively small fungus gardens. Higher taxa, in contrast, live in colonies made of 5–10 million ants that live and work within hundreds of interconnected fungus-bearing chambers in huge subterranean nests. Some colonies are so large, they can be seen from satellite photos, measuring up to 600 m3.

Based on these habits, and taking phylogenetic information into consideration, these ants can be divided into six biologically distinct agricultural systems (with a list of genera involved in each category):

Nest Construction

A limited number of species that use fungi in the construction of their nests.

Lower Agriculture

Practiced by species in the majority of fungus-feeding genera, including those thought to retain more primitive features, which cultivate a wide range of fungal species in the tribe Leucocoprineae.

Coral Fungus Agriculture

Practiced by species in the Apterostigma pilosum species-group, which cultivate fungi within the Pterulaceae.

Yeast Agriculture

Practiced by species within the Cyphomyrmex rimosus species-group, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi derived from the lower attine fungi.

Generalized Higher Agriculture

Practiced by species in several genera of non-leaf-cutting "higher attine" ants, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi separately derived from the lower attine fungi.

Leaf-Cutter Agriculture

A subdivision of higher attine agriculture practiced by species within several ecologically dominant genera, which cultivate a single highly derived species of higher attine fungus.

Note that the farming habits of Mycetagroicus (4 species) are unknown. Also, while species of Pseudoatta (2 species) are closely related to the fungus-feeding genus Acromyrmex, they are social parasites, living in the nests of their hosts and are not actively involved in fungus growing. ‎



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

  • foxi. Cyphomyrmex foxi André, 1892a: 55 (w.) JAMAICA.
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 487), 3 paralectotype workers.
    • Type-locality: lectotype Jamaica: (no further data) (J.W. Fox); paralectotypes with same data.
    • [Note Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 487, cite 4w syntypes (now lectotype + paralectotypes), but in the original description André says, “I received two specimens of this ant from Mr J.W. Fox of Philadelphia”.]
    • Type-depository: MNHN.
    • Wheeler, W.M. 1917g: 461 (q.).
    • Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 150; Wheeler, W.M. 1905b: 129; Wheeler, W.M. 1908b: 162; Wheeler, W.M. 1911a: 29; Wheeler, W.M. 1917g: 461; Emery, 1924d: 341; Weber, 1940a: 409 (in key); Kempf, 1966: 186 (redescription); Weber, 1966: 168; Kempf, 1972a: 92; Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 487; Bolton, 1995b: 167.
    • Distribution: Jamaica.


Kempf (1966) - This striking species, which is restricted to the Island of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea, on account of the larger size and the salient spinulation of occiput and thorax, resembles the continental species Cyphomyrmex vorticis and Cyphomyrmex salvini. The moderately expanded frontal carinae, the prominent clypeal lobe, the very long lateral pronotal spines, the raised paired tubercles on postpetiole, the densely rugose integument of head, thorax and pedicel set foxi at once apart from its closest relatives.


Kempf 1966 Cyphomyrmex 1-13.jpg

Kempf (1966) - Total length 3.8-4.0 mm; head length 0.95-0.97 mm; head width 0.80-0.87 mm; thorax length 1.28-1.33 mm; hind femur length 1.17-1.23 mm. Dark reddish brown; mandibles, funiculi and tarsi yellowish brown. Integument opaque, finely and densely granulate-punctate; head, thorax and pedicel covered with dense rugae, which are predominantly longitudinal on head, sides of thorax and pedicel, but transversely arched between promesonotal armature and postpetiolar tubercles.

Head (fig 6). Mandibles densely punctate-striolate. Anterior apron of clypeus flat, prominent, anterior border strongly convex and feebly notched in the middle. Lateral teeth of clypeus acute but hidden in full-face view under tip of frontal lobes. The latter moderately expanded laterad, their maximum width scarcely matching the interocular width, exposing part of the cheeks in full-face view. Frontal carinae nearly straight and diverging caudad, reaching tip of prominent occipital spines. Front with a broad but shallow transverse impression between laterally carinate frontal area and semicircular carinae on vertex. Preocular carina gently curving mesad above eyes, visible in full-face view. Postocular carina feebler, reaching from postero-inferior orbit of eye to tip of occipital spine, bisected by the prominent supraocular tooth. Eyes with approximately 10 facets across greatest diameter. Inferior border of cheeks sharply marginate. Scape in repose surpassing apex of occipital spine by a distance equaling twice its maximum diameter. All funicular segments longer than broad, segment I shorter than II and III combined.

Thorax (fig 14). Midpronotal teeth short but acute; lateral ones long and spine-like, projecting obliquely laterad and upward, longer than the pair of stout, conical, anterior mesonotal spines. Lateral border of pronotal disc vestigially carinate. Antero-inferior pronotal corner subrectangular. Posterior pair of mesonotal spines subequal to midpronotal ones. Mesoepinotal constriction broad but rather shallow. Basal face of epinotum with a pair of longitudinal sharp carinae, which in profile form two succeeding obtuse teeth; infradental lamella of posterior tooth descending halfways down the declivous face. Oblique welt on sides of epinotum rather prominent. Hind femora moderately angulate in front of basal third; postero-ventral border vestigially carinate.

Pedicel (fig 14, 28). Petiolar node with convex sides, lacking a postero-dorsal salient laminule. Postpetiole much broader, bearing postero-dorsally a prominent, stout and bluntly tipped pair of tubercles. Tergum I of gaster with a very short and feeble antero-median groove, the lateral margination at best vestigial.

Pilosity simple, not scale-like, hairs recurved to appressed.


Wheeler (1917) - The female, hitherto undescribed, is represented by a single, dealated individual. It measures 3.4 mm. and closely resembles the worker in color, sculpture, and pilosity and in the structure of the head. The spines on the humeri of the pronotum are long and stout. The mesonotum is flattened above, as broad as long, with a pair of low longitudinal welts anteriorly and expanded postero-lateral borders, bluntly dentate anteriorly and posteriorly. The scutellum is bluntly bidentate and projecting. The epinotum is abruptly declivous, without distinct base and declivity, and with a pair of longitudinal ridges terminating behind in large, blunt, compressed teeth. Between these ridges the surface is transversely rugose. The petiole is small and similar to that of the worker, the postpetiole very large, broader than long, subrectangular when seem from above, with two short, blunt, longitudinal ridges, terminating in large blunt projections behind and separated by a deep concavity. The gaster is broadly oval, hardly longer than broad, rounded above, on the sides and behind, without longitudinal ridges and with a distinct median longitudinal groove at the base.

Type Material

Snelling and Longino (1992) - There are four cotypes of C. foxi in the Paris Museum and they are in agreement with the interpretations of Wheeler (1917) and subsequent authors. One of the four cotypes has been marked as the Lectotype; the three remaining cotypes are paralectotypes and all are in the MNHN, Paris.


Dedicated to M.J.W. Fox from Philadelphia.


  • Kempf, W. W. 1966 [1965]. A revision of the Neotropical fungus-growing ants of the genus Cyphomyrmex Mayr. Part II: Group of rimosus (Spinola) (Hym., Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. 8: 161-200 (page 186, see also)
  • Snelling, R. R.; Longino, J. T. 1992. Revisionary notes on the fungus-growing ants of the genus Cyphomyrmex, rimosus group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Attini). Pp. 479-494 in: Quintero, D., Aiello, A. (eds.) Insects of Panama and Mesoamerica: selected stu (page 487, see also)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1917g. Jamaican ants collected by Prof. C. T. Brues. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 61: 457-471 (page 461, queen described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • André E. 1892. Matériaux myrmécologiques. Rev. Entomol. (Caen) 11: 45-56.
  • Kempf W. W. 1966. A revision of the Neotropical fungus-growing ants of the genus Cyphomyrmex Mayr. Part II: Group of rimosus (Spinola) (Hym., Formicidae). Studia Entomologica 8: 161-200.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Snelling R. R., and J. T. Longino. 1992. Revisionary notes on the fungus-growing ants of the genus Cyphomyrmex, rimosus group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Attini). Pp. 479-494 in: Quintero, D.; Aiello, A. (eds.) 1992. Insects of Panama and Mesoamerica: selected studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, xxii + 692 pp.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1905. The ants of the Bahamas, with a list of the known West Indian species. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 21: 79-135.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1908. The ants of Jamaica. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 24: 159-163.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1917. Jamaican ants collected by Prof. C. T. Brues. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 61: 457-471.
  • Wheeler, William Morton. 1911. Additions to the Ant-Fauna of Jamaica. Bulletin American Museum of Natural History. 30:21-29.