Ectatomma tuberculatum

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Ectatomma tuberculatum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ectatomminae
Tribe: Ectatommini
Genus: Ectatomma
Species: E. tuberculatum
Binomial name
Ectatomma tuberculatum
(Olivier, 1792)

Ectatomma tuberculatum casent0173380 profile 1.jpg

Ectatomma tuberculatum casent0173380 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


This ant can be a common and readily observable constituent of ant communities in favorable habitat, e.g., Brazilian cerrado.

At a Glance • Facultatively polygynous  




Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago (type locality), Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


This species is a host for the ant Ectatomma parasiticum (a inquiline).

Sanz-Veiga et al. (2017) - Ectatomma tuberculatum was found to be the most common ant visitor to extrafloral nectaries of Tocoyena formosa plants occurring in a southeastern Brazilian cerrado study-site.

De Oliveira et al. (2015), studying ant occupancy of Cecropia trees in southwest Bahia, Brazil, found two colonies of Ectatomma tuberculatum nesting in Cecropia pachystachya trees.

E. tuberculatum with its jaws open on a T. formosa fruit

Longino (2003) - Wheeler (1986) observed a behavioral association between Crematogaster 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.

When alarmed, workers will feign death.

Koch et al. (2018) sampled this species in Caryocar barsiliense trees, in southeastern Brazil cerrado, as part of a study examining species interactions in ant-plants.


Meza-Lazaro et al. (2018) - We assembled mitogenomes from 21 ant workers assigned to four morphospecies (Ectatomma ruidum spp. 1-4) and putative hybrids of the Ectatomma ruidum complex (E. ruidum spp. 2x3), and to Ectatomma tuberculatum using NGS data. Mitogenomes from specimens of E. ruidum spp. 3, 4 and 2 x 3 had a high proportion of polymorphic sites. We investigated whether polymorphisms in mitogenomes are due to nuclear mt paralogues (numts) or due to the presence of more than one mitogenome within an individual (heteroplasmy). We did not find loss of function signals in polymorphic protein-coding genes, and observed strong evidence for purifying selection in two haplotype-phased genes, which indicate the presence of two functional mitochondria' genomes coexisting within individuals instead of numts. Heteroplasmy due to hybrid paternal leakage is not supported by phylogenetic analyses. Our results reveal the presence of a fast-evolving secondary mitochondrial lineage of uncertain origin in the E. ruidum complex.

Association with Other Organisms

  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Dilocantha lachaudii (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (associate).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Isomerala azteca (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (associate).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Isomerala coronata (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (associate).


Two size categories of queens were thought to exist in E. tuberculatum. The small queens were believed to be microgynes. Macrogynes were found to be approximately 20% larger in size and twice as heavy as microgynes (and up to three times heavier in terms of dry weight). Both types can be inseminated. They differ in the number of ovarioles per ovary (20 vs. 14)(Lachaud et al. 1999). Presently these small queens are classified as a parasitic ant species Ectatomma parasiticum.

Dealate macrogyne, microgyne, and worker. From Hora et al. 2001.


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

  • tuberculatum. Formica tuberculata Olivier, 1792: 498 (w.q.) TRINIDAD. Smith, F. 1858b: 102 (m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1952a: 129 (l.). Combination in Ectatomma: Smith, F. 1858b: 102. Senior synonym of tridentata: Smith, F. 1858b: 102; of ferrugineus: Emery, 1892b: 167; of irregularis, punctigerum: Weber, 1946a: 2; of acrista: Kempf, 1962b: 2.
  • tridentata. Formica tridentata Fabricius, 1804: 412 (w.) "America meridionali". Junior synonym of tuberculatum: Smith, F. 1858b: 102.
  • ferruginea. Ectatomma ferruginea Norton, 1868a: 61, pl. 2, fig. 4 (w.m.) MEXICO. Norton, 1868c: 5 (w.m., descriptions). Junior synonym of tuberculatum: Emery, 1892b: 167.
  • punctigerum. Ectatomma tuberculatum var. punctigerum Emery, 1890a: 56 (w.) VENEZUELA. Lever, 1930: 214 (q.). Junior synonym of tuberculatum: Weber, 1946a: 2.
  • acrista. Ectatomma tuberculatum subsp. acrista Forel, 1909a: 254 (w.q.) PARAGUAY. Junior synonym of tuberculatum: Weber, 1946a: 2. Revived from synonymy and raised to species: Brown, 1958g: 208. Junior synonym of tuberculatum: Kempf, 1962b: 2.
  • irregularis. Ectatomma tuberculatum var. irregularis Santschi, 1921g: 83 (w.) COLOMBIA. Junior synonym of tuberculatum: Weber, 1946a: 2.



  • 2n = 36, karyotype = 30M+6A (Brazil) (Barros et al., 2008).


  • Emery, C. 1892c [1891]. Note sinonimiche sulle formiche. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 23: 159-167 (page 167, senior synonym of ferrugineus)
  • Hora, R.R., Vilela, E., Fénéron, R., Pezon, A., Fresneau, D., Delabie, J. 2005. Facultative polygyny in Ectatomma tuberculatum (Formicidae, Ectatomminae). Insect. Soc. 52: 194–200 (DOI 10.1007/s00040-004-0794-5).
  • Kempf, W. W. 1962b. Miscellaneous studies on neotropical ants. II. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. 5: 1-38 (page 2, senior synonym of acrista)
  • Koch, E. B. A., W. Dattilo, F. Camarota, and H. L. Vasconcelos. 2018. From species to individuals: does the variation in ant-plant networks scale result in structural and functional changes? Population Ecology. 60:309-318. doi:10.1007/s10144-018-0634-5
  • Longino, J.T. 2003a. The Crematogaster of Costa Rica. Zootaxa 151: 1-150.
  • Meza-Lazaro, R. N., C. Poteaux, N. J. Bayona-Vasquez, M. G. Branstetter, and A. Zaldivar-Riveron. 2018. Extensive mitochondrial heteroplasmy in the neotropical ants of the Ectatomma ruidum complex (Formicidae: Ectatomminae). Mitochondrial DNA Part A. 29:1203-1214. doi:10.1080/24701394.2018.1431228
  • Nettel-Hernanz, A., Lachaud, J-P, Fresneau, D, López-Muñoz, R & Poteaux C 2015. Biogeography, cryptic diversity, and queen dimorphism evolution of the Neotropical ant genus Ectatomma Smith, 1958 (Formicidae, Ectatomminae). Organisms Diversity & Evolution DOI 10.1007/s13127-015-0215-9
  • de Oliveira, G. V., M. M. Correa, I. M. A. Goes, A. F. P. Machado, R. J. de Sa-Neto, and J. H. C. Delabie. 2015. Interactions between Cecropia (Urticaceae) and ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) along a longitudinal east-west transect in the Brazilian Northeast. Annales De La Societe Entomologique De France. 51:153-160. doi:10.1080/00379271.2015.1061231
  • Olivier, A. G. 1792. Encyclopédie méthodique. Histoire naturelle. Insectes. Tome 6. (pt. 2). Paris: Panckoucke, pp. 369-704. (page 498, worker, queen described)
  • Sanz-Veiga, P. A., L. R. Jorge, S. Benitez-Vieyra, and F. W. Amorim. 2017. Pericarpial nectary-visiting ants do not provide fruit protection against pre-dispersal seed predators regardless of ant species composition and resource availability. PLoS ONE. 12. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0188445
  • Smith, F. 1858a. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 102, male described, Combination in Ectatomma, senior synonym of tridentata)
  • Weber, N. A. 1946a. Two common ponerine ants of possible economic significance, Ectatomma tuberculatum (Olivier) and E. ruidum Roger. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 48: 1-16 (page 2, senior synonym of irregularis and punctigerum)
  • Wheeler, D. E. 1986. Ectatomma tuberculatum: foraging biology and association with Crematogaster (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 79(2):300-303.
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1952a. The ant larvae of the subfamily Ponerinae - Part I. Am. Midl. Nat. 48: 111-144 (page 129, larva described)