Cyphomyrmex minutus

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Cyphomyrmex minutus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cyphomyrmex
Species: C. minutus
Binomial name
Cyphomyrmex minutus
Mayr, 1862

Cyphomyrmex minutus casent0103832 profile 1.jpg

Cyphomyrmex minutus casent0103832 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


A tropical species, or more likely a complex of closely related species (rimosus group), that can be locally abundant.


See the nomenclature section under Cyphomyrmex rimosus.

Keys including this Species


This is a common species through the West Indies and around the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico into Texas (Snelling and Longino 1992). It adapts well to disturbed sites and readily colonizes potted plants, so there is a high probability that it was brought to Florida at least once, but it might also be native to the state, having flown from the Bahamas or moved around the Gulf of Mexico. It was recorded from Florida in Smith 1930. (Deyrup, Davis & Cover, 2000.)

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States.
Neotropical Region: Bahamas, Barbados, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba (type locality), Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Greater Antilles, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Lesser Antilles, Martinique, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Longino (2004) provides a good account about the biology of species within this group that, in modified form, fits well with C. minutus: In much of the Neotropics these are among the most abundant attines in the habitat, but they are always inconspicuous ants. They have small colonies, with worker numbers usually in the tens to hundreds. The nests are usually in small chambers in the ground, under objects, or in rotten wood.

The main fungal substrates used by the common Cyphomyrmex are caterpillar droppings and dead insect parts. The insect parts are mainly heavily sclerotized bits of exoskeleton, and brightly colored beetle elytra seem to be particularly favored. When a small Cyphmyrmex colony is exposed by turning over a leaf on the forest floor or breaking into a small cavity in a rotten log, one is faced with an almost magical little scene: one or two large caterpillar pellets form the center of the fungus garden, embedded in a glittering, multicolored pile of beetle elytra, membracid pronota, and miscellaneous leg parts, and all covered with the little green fungal dots. The workers tuck their legs and become motionless on disturbance, entering a "cateleptic" state, and so at first the small brown workers are an invisible part of the background in and around the fungus garden. After a few minutes, if left undisturbed, one by one the workers appear to suddenly spring into motion.

Wheeler (1905), Bahamas - numerous workers from several nests collected near Nassau, N. P., (Fort Charlotte, Menendez Sisal Plantation, and Blue Hills), ...The nests were under stones, where the ants were guarding their fungus gardens on caterpillar excrement. The fungus consisted of small translucent, pear-shaped, yellow bodies, about .5 mm. in diameter. They were of exactly the same size and appearance as those which I first saw in the fungus gardens of the subsp. dentatus Forel in Mexico. More recently I have found these gardens and fungi in the nests of a dark variety of rimosus at New Braunfels, Texas, and in the nests of another variety on Key Largo, Florida.





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

  • minutus. Cyphomyrmex minutus Mayr, 1862: 691 (w.) CUBA. Mayr, 1887: 558 (q.m.). Junior synonym of rimosus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 150; Forel, 1895b: 137. Revived from synonymy as subspecies of rimosus: Emery, 1894c: 225; Wheeler, W.M. 1905b: 106. Subspecies of rimosus: Emery, 1924d: 342; Creighton, 1950a: 316; Kempf, 1966: 162. Revived status as species: Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 490. Senior synonym of steinheili: Mayr, 1887: 558; of comalensis: Creighton, 1950a: 315; of arnoldi, atrata, breviscapus, flavescens, venezuelensis: Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 490.
  • steinheili. Cyphomyrmex steinheili Forel, 1885a: 368 (w.) MEXICO. Junior synonym of minutus: Mayr, 1887: 558.
  • comalensis. Cyphomyrmex rimosus var. comalensis Wheeler, W.M. 1907c: 719, pl. 49, fig. 1 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. Junior synonym of minutus: Creighton, 1950a: 315.
  • atrata. Atta (Cyphomyrmex) rimosa r. atrata Forel, 1912e: 188 (w.q.m.) COLOMBIA. Combination in Cyphomyrmex: Emery, 1924d: 342. Junior synonym of minutus: Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 490.
  • arnoldi. Cyphomyrmex rimosus var. arnoldi Aguayo, 1932: 223 (w.) JAMAICA. Junior synonym of minutus: Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 490.
  • venezuelensis. Cyphomyrmex rimosus subsp. venezuelensis Weber, 1938b: 188 (w.) VENEZUELA. Junior synonym of transversus: Weber, 1958d: 261. Revived from synonymy as subspecies of rimosus: Kempf, 1966: 162. Junior synonym of minutus: Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 490.
  • breviscapus. Cyphomyrmex rimosus subsp. breviscapus Weber, 1940a: 412 (diagnosis in key) (w.) PANAMA. Junior synonym of minutus: Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 490.
  • flavescens. Cyphomyrmex rimosus subsp. flavescens Weber, 1940a: 411 (in key and footnote) (w.) HAITI. [First available use of Cyphomyrmex rimosus subp. minutus var. flavidus Wheeler, W.M. 1936b: 204; unavailable name.] Junior synonym of minutus: Snelling, R.R. & Longino, 1992: 490.

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



2.5 mm. Kahl, Kopf und Hinterleib dunkel rothbraun. Thorax und Stielchen braunlich-roth, Mandibeln, Fiihlel' und Beine roth. Kopf, Thorax und Stielchen ziemlich fein, abel' unregelmassig gerunzelt, hie und da mit kleinen Erhabenheiten; Hinterleib ebenfalls fein gerunzelt und zerstreut grob gekornt. Beine und Mandibeln glanzend, del'iibrige Korper matt.

Type Material

Aus Cuba erhielt ich ein Stuck diesel' sehr merkwurdigen Ameise' von Herm Riehl.


  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 316, Subspecies of rimosus; page 315, Senior synonym of comalensis)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 150, Junior synonym of rimosus)
  • Deyrup, M., Davis, L. & Cover, S. 2000. Exotic ants in Florida. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 126, 293-325.
  • Emery, C. 1894d. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. VI-XVI. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 26: 137-241 (page 225, Revived from synonymy as subspecies of rimosus)
  • Emery, C. 1924f [1922]. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [concl.]. Genera Insectorum 174C: 207-397 (page 342, Subspecies of rimosus)
  • Forel, A. 1895b. A fauna das formigas do Brazil. Bol. Mus. Para. Hist. Nat. Ethnogr. 1: 89-139 (page 137, Junior synonym of rimosus)
  • 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 162, Subspecies of rimosus)
  • Mayr, G. 1862. Myrmecologische Studien. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 12: 649-776 (page 691, worker described)
  • Mayr, G. 1887. Südamerikanische Formiciden. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 37: 511-632 (page 558, queen, male described, Senior synonym of steinheili)
  • 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 490, Revived status as species, Senior synonym of arnoldi, atrata, breviscapus, flavescens and venezuelensis)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1905c. The ants of the Bahamas, with a list of the known West Indian species. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 21: 79-135 (page 106, Revived from synonymy as subspecies of rimosus)