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Mycocepurus smithii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Mycocepurus
Forel, 1893
Type species
Atta (Mycocepurus) smithii, now Mycocepurus smithii
6 species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)

Mycocepurus smithii casent0179467 profile 1.jpg

Mycocepurus smithii

Mycocepurus smithii casent0179467 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Evolutionary Relationships

Ochetomyrmex (2 species), Tranopelta (2 species)

Allomerus (8 species), Blepharidatta (4 species), Diaphoromyrma (1 species), Lachnomyrmex (16 species), Wasmannia (11 species)

Acanthognathus (7 species), Colobostruma (16 species), Daceton (2 species), Epopostruma (20 species), Lenomyrmex (7 species), Mesostruma (9 species), Microdaceton (4 species), Orectognathus (29 species)


  (44 species)

  (31 species)

  (6 species)


  (1 species)

  (1 species)

  (4 species)

  (2 species)

  (23 species)

  (21 species)

  (4 species)

Acromyrmex (56 species), Atta (20 species), Sericomyrmex (11 species), Trachymyrmex (9 species), Xerolitor (1 species)

Basiceros (9 species), Cephalotes (123 species), Eurhopalothrix (55 species), Octostruma (35 species), Phalacromyrmex (1 species), Pheidole (1,294 species), Pilotrochus (1 species), Procryptocerus (44 species), Protalaridris (7 species), Rhopalothrix (16 species), Strumigenys (860 species), Talaridris (1 species)

Based on Ward et al. (2014), Blaimer et al. (2018) and Li et al. (2018).

A genus of fungus growing ants. Mackay et al. (2004) - The genus Mycocepurus uses a variety of organic matter as a substrate for their fungal gardens, ranging from dry leaves and caterpillar dung (Kempf 1963) to fruit matter on the seeds of Hymenaea courbaril (Caesalpiniaceae), which facilitates germination of the plant (Oliveira et al. 1995). The genus consists of a small group (6 species) of cryptic ants, which are found from México south to Brazil and Argentina (Kempf, 1963, Mackay, 1998). Two of the species are relatively common and widely distributed from México to Argentina and Brazil, as well as the Caribbean (Mycocepurus smithii), and Guyana, Brazil and Argentina (Mycocepurus goeldii), one is known from México to Panamá (Mycocepurus curvispinosus), another from Nicaragua south to Panamá (Mycocepurus tardus), and the remaining species is presently known only from the type locality (Mycocepurus obsoletus from Santarém, Pará, Brazil). Kempf (1963) suggests that M. obsoletus may be a slightly aberrant variant of M. smithii. Rabeling and Bacci (2010) have discovered a workerless inquiline species Mycocepurus castrator that parasitizes Mycocepurus goeldii.

At a Glance • Fungus Grower  


Monomorphic ants, characterized by the numerous spines on most bodily surfaces, including a pair of occipital spines, and usually 2 to 3 pairs on the pronotum, 5 to 6 pairs on the mesonotum and 2 pairs on the propodeum, with the last pair being the most developed. The dorsum of the petiole has 2 pairs of spines. There is a definite circlet or crown of spines on the promesonotum, a feature that is not found in any other genus in the New World. (Mackay et al. 2004)

AntWeb icon 02.png See images of species within this genus



Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps

Species by Region

Number of species within biogeographic regions, along with the total number of species for each region.

Afrotropical Region Australasian Region Indo-Australian Region Malagasy Region Nearctic Region Neotropical Region Oriental Region Palaearctic Region
Species 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 0
Total Species 2839 1735 3036 932 834 4378 1708 2836


Association with Other Organisms

All Associate Records for Genus

Click here to show/hide associate data.
Taxon Relationship Associate Type Associate Taxon Associate Relationship Locality Source Notes
Mycocepurus castrator workerless inquiline ant Mycocepurus goeldii host Brazil de la Mora et al., 2021; Rabeling & Bacci, 2010; Rabeling et al., 2014
Mycocepurus goeldii host ant Mycocepurus castrator workerless inquiline Brazil Rabeling & Bacci, 2010

Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: "Not exceed several hundreds" (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Compound colony type: not parasitic (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Nest site: hypogaeic (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Diet class: herbivore (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Foraging stratum: subterranean/leaf litter (Greer et al., 2021)



Worker Morphology

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 • Eyes: 11-100 ommatidia • Pronotal Spines: dentiform • Mesonotal Spines: dentiform • Propodeal Spines: dentiform; present • Petiolar Spines: dentiform • Caste: none or weak • Sting: NA • Metaplural Gland: present • Cocoon: absent


Species Uncertain

  • 2n = 8, karyotype = 4M (Panama) (Murakami et al., 1998).

All Karyotype Records for Genus

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Taxon Haploid Diploid Karyotype Locality Source Notes
Mycocepurus 8 4M Panama Murakami et al., 1998
Mycocepurus goeldii 8 8M Brazil Barros et al., 2010
Mycocepurus goeldii 4 8 4M+4SM Brazil Cardoso & Cristiano, 2021


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

  • MYCOCEPURUS [Myrmicinae: Attini]
    • Mycocepurus Forel, 1893e: 602 [as subgenus of Atta]. Type-species: Atta (Mycocepurus) smithii, by subsequent designation of Wheeler, W.M. 1911f: 167.
    • [Mycocepurus Forel, 1893a: 164. Nomen nudum. Mycocepurus also described as new by Forel, 1893g: 369.]
    • Mycocepurus raised to genus: Wheeler, W.M. 1911f: 167.
    • Mycocepurus senior synonym of Descolemyrma: Kempf, 1963b: 417.
  • MYCETOPURUS [unavailable name]
    • Mycetopurus Santschi, 1925b: 17, incorrect subsequent spelling of Mycocepurus. Perhaps a combination in error of Myceto(phylax) + (Mycoce)purus: Bolton, 1995b: 36.
  • DESCOLEMYRMA [junior synonym of Mycocepurus]
    • Descolemyrma Kusnezov, 1951d: 460. Type-species: Descolemyrma ogloblini (junior synonym of Atta (Mycocepurus) goeldii), by monotypy.
    • Descolemyrma junior synonym of Mycocepurus: Kempf, 1963b: 418.