Octostruma convallis

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Octostruma convallis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Octostruma
Species: O. convallis
Binomial name
Octostruma convallis
Longino, 2013

Octostruma convallis P casent0627381.jpg

Octostruma convallis D casent0627381.jpg

Specimen Label

All specimens are from samples of sifted leaf litter and rotten wood from the forest floor. A total of 8 workers and 1 dealate queen are known, from 7 Winkler samples. All but one of the specimens are from the ridge crest cloud forest above the community of Monteverde, 1500–1600 m, in the Cordillera de Tilarán. One worker is from 1100 m on the Barva Transect, in the Cordillera Volcánica Central. (Longino 2013)


Longino (2013) - Antennal scrobe very shallow, not distinctly margined; face with arcuate carina; frontal carinae and facial arc separated by a transverse trough, and the termini of the facial arc extend laterally beyond the termini of the frontal carinae (termini of facial arc join frontal carinae in Octostruma ascrobis, Octostruma ascrobicula); facial arc not strongly elevated, becoming irregular and somewhat weaker laterally, frontal carinae stronger than lateral portions of facial arc (facial arc strong throughout, much stronger than frontal carinae in Octostruma limbifrons); pronotum smooth and shiny, differentiated from foveolate mesonotum (promesonotal dorsum uniformly foveolate in Octostruma convallisur).

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Costa Rica (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


This species inhabits cloud forest, from 1100–1600 m.


This species and the closely similar Octostruma ascrobis form an elevational replacement series in Costa Rica, with O. ascrobis being a widespread lowland species and O. convallis being a montane endemic with a narrow range.

Longino (2013) - Brown and Kempf (1960) summarized the biology of basicerotines as follows: The basicerotines all come from tropical or subtropical areas, and predominantly from mesic habitats, particularly rain forest, where they live primarily in the upper layers of the soil and in the soil cover, including large and small pieces of rotten wood. They are fairly common in soil cover berlesates. Nests have been found in snail shells, and in the peaty masses gathered about epiphytic ferns above the ground level. So far as is known, colonies are small, consisting of one or more dealate—or rarely ergatoid—females, and a few workers. Judging from the structure of the workers and females, one would suppose that they were predaceous on small arthropods...

Besides this summary, the behavior of three basicerotine species has been studied. Wilson (1956) observed a small captive colony of Eurhopalothrix biroi, a New Guinea species. Workers moved slowly and captured a variety of small, soft-bodied prey, including spiders, symphylans, entomobryid Collembola, campodeids, and hemipteran nymphs. Wilson and Brown (1984) observed a captive colony of Eurhopalothrix heliscata, a species from Singapore. The colony contained over 400 workers, multiple alate and dealate queens, several adult males, and brood. Foraging workers acted "rather like miniature ferrets," readily wedging themselves into small crevices. They foraged solitarily, attacking a variety of prey but mostly termites. They used their sharply-toothed mandibles to abruptly snap onto appendages of prey, maintaining purchase and slowly reaching around with the gaster to sting the prey. The strongly sclerotized labrum was also employed to press against the clamped appendage. The behavioral repertoire was limited. There did not appear to be trophallaxis, as workers and larvae fed directly from prey in the brood chambers. Nor did there appear to be any form of alarm communication. While there was generally an increase in the number of foragers when clusters of prey were presented, there was no evidence of any pheromone-based recruitment. Workers were non-aggressive and responded to disturbance by tucking the appendages and becoming immobile, often for minutes at a time. Wilson and Hölldobler (1986) studied captive colonies of Basiceros manni from Costa Rica and observed behavior not substantially different from E. heliscata. Foraging workers of many basicerotines are often encrusted with a firmly bonded layer of soil, which is thought to function as camouflage, enhancing crypsis (Hölldobler & Wilson, 1986).

Knowledge of the basic natural history of these ants has hardly progressed since the observations of Wilson, Brown, and Hölldobler. More specimens are now available for examination due to quantitative litter sampling, enhancing knowledge of basicerotine diversity and distribution, but discovering nests remains exceedingly difficult. Quantitative samples of 1 m2 litter plots reveals that small basicerotines can be very frequent, occurring in over 50% of samples in some cases, but never in large numbers. Individual samples usually contain fewer than ten workers, and workers are often accompanied by dealate queens. These results suggest that colonies, at least among New World species, are usually small, with tens of workers.

Less than half of the species of Octostruma have their queens described. Ergatoid queens are known from some species. Males are known from collections for some species but none have been described. The mating biology of these ants and how common ergatoid queens are across the genus and within colonies is not known.



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

  • convallis. Octostruma convallis Longino, 2013: 24, figs. 1H, 3G, 6E, 14H, 20, 44 (w.) COSTA RICA.

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



HW 0.52–0.54, HL 0.50–0.52, WL 0.54–0.56, CI 102–106 (n=2). Labrum rectangular, formed of strap-like lateral portions joined by a thin translucent lamella; mandible strongly bowed, in profile view with mandible closed, basal portion of mandible in same plane as clypeus, apex of mandible strongly down-turned, the down-turned portion subequal in length to basal portion; with mandible fully open, dorsal face fully perpendicular to plane of clypeus and teeth projecting dorsally; mandible with 10 teeth, tooth 1 continuous with basal rim of dorsal surface, teeth 1–7, teeth 7–10 form an apical fork perpendicular to base of dorsal face, tooth 7 long and separate, tooth 8 about 1/3 length of tooth 7, teeth 9 and 10 slightly longer than 7, joined to near tip (or could be interpreted as single tooth bifid at the tip), tooth 9 slightly shorter than 10; dorsal surface of mandible smooth; ventral surface narrow, smooth and shiny; interior surface strongly concave, smooth and highly polished; scape flattened, with pronounced anterobasal lobe, dorsal surface smooth and shining; clypeus strongly emarginate anteriorly, smooth and shining; frontal carinae sharp, narrow, extending more or less straight back and ending before reaching transverse facial arc; facial arc broad, not strongly semicircular, extending toward sides of head beyond termini of frontal carinae, curving forward to form irregular carina or gibbosity between compound eye and frontal carina; a shallow trough separates frontal carinae and facial arc; frontal carinae and facial arc delimit anterior concave surface that is shiny, with irregular median longitudinal carina and faint transverse rugulae laterally; side of head near compound eye shallowly foveolate; vertex posterior to facial arc largely smooth and highly polished, with distinct, sparse, uniformly distributed puncta; compound eye small, circular, composed of 4–5 somewhat confluent ommatidia; antennal scrobe below eye, very shallow and not delimited with carina or flange; scrobe and undersurface of head shallowly foveolate.

Promesonotum forming continuous convexity in profile; metanotal groove not impressed; propodeum forming a single, concave, sloping surface, not differentiated into dorsal and posterior faces; propodeal spines low and obtuse, extending anteriorly as raised carinae that curve medially and join at the metanotal groove, extending ventrally as narrow lamella, thus posterodorsal propodeum entirely delimited by raised carinae confluent with propodeal spines; propodeal spiracle large, located immediately below propodeal spine and abutting posterior margin; pronotum sculpture smooth and shining with sparse puncta, like posterior vertex; mesonotum with feeble, mesh-like sculpture, contrasting sharply with pronotum and clearly demarcating juncture of pro- and mesonotum; posterodorsal face of propodeum shallowly foveolate; mesopleuron and side of propodeum not differentiated, feebly rugulose.

Petiole in profile with peduncle not differentiated from node, anterior surface sloping evenly from petiolar foramen to node, dorsal face of node sloping posteriorly to projecting transverse cuticular rim, short concave posterior face beneath rim; anteroventral margin without tooth or angle; dorsal face of node smooth and shining; postpetiole low, broad, crescent-shaped in dorsal view, dorsal face shallowly foveolate anteriorly, smooth and shining posteriorly, delimited anteriorly and posteriorly by thin transverse rim; first gastral tergite shallowly foveolate anteriorly, grading to smooth and shining at posterior rim; first gastral sternite foveolate anteriorly, grading to sparsely punctate with smooth and shining interspaces posteriorly.

Labrum fringed on sides and apex with soft translucent thick setae, one of these on each anterior labral lobe much longer than the others, projecting ventrally; extreme base of ventral surface of mandible with very fine, long seta that curves forward and nearly touches ventrally projecting labral seta; each larger mandibular tooth with prominent fully appressed seta; anterior margin of scape with 6–7 stiff clavate setae; clypeus and face devoid of ground pilosity; 1 stout clavate seta on each side of facial arc, posterior to compound eye and lateral to frontal carinae; mesonotum, petiole and postpetiole lacking erect setae, ground pilosity extremely short, sparse, unnoticeable; mesotibia with short, thin, sparse, decumbent ground pilosity, a single large stout clavate seta and several thin shorter erect setae at apex; mesobasitarsus with 2 pairs long, thin, erect setae; first gastral tergite devoid of clavate setae, following exposed tergites each with row of clavate setae; ground pilosity of first gastral tergite short, sparse, fully appressed, somewhat more noticeable than on mesosoma; first gastral sternite with sparse, thin but stiff erect setae over much of surface except narrow area near postpetiolar insertion.

Color orange.


HW 0.62, HL 0.61, WL 0.84, CI 103 (n=1). Labrum, mandible, anterior clypeal margin, and scape similar to worker; clypeus smooth and shining with sparse puncta, separated from vertex with distinct suture; frontal carinae distinct, extending to level of posterior margin of compound eye; transverse facial arc feeble, marked by a semicircular row of 11 erect clavate setae; face anterior to row of setae flat, irregularly rugose, lacking longitudinal median carina, face rugosity extending posteriorly across facial arc, grading to smooth and shining with sparse puncta near occipital carina; ocelli distinct, anteromedian ocellus immediately anterior to seta row; compound eye large, multifaceted, about 12 ommatidia in longest row; outermost seta of seta row at inner margin of compound eye; antennal scrobe shallow, like worker.

Mesosoma with queen-typical alar sclerites; pronotum smooth and shining laterally and anteriorly, with faint rugulae and sparse puncta on humeri; mesoscutum, axilla, and scutellum irregularly longitudinally rugulose; anepisternum and katepisternum separated by strong sulcus, anepisternum smooth and shining, katepisternum smooth and shining anteriorly, feebly punctatorugose posteriorly; metapleuron distinct, with deep transverse sulcus, separated from side of propodeum by dorsoventral sulcus; metapleuron and side of propodeum feebly punctatorugose; posterodorsal propodeum foveolate; propodeal spines pronounced, in the form of flattened perpendicular plates, right-angle in profile; propodeal spiracle smaller and lower compared to worker, anterior to ventral propodeal lamella; mesoscutum with 6 erect clavate setae.

Petiole similar to worker, but posterior rim more pronounced and projecting; postpetiole also with a posterior projecting rim, ventral margin with a short acute tooth; first gastral tergite punctate over much of surface, grading to sparser and smaller puncta at posterior border; petiole and postpetiole lacking erect setae; first gastral tergite with 6 erect clavate setae along posterior border, about 10 scattered over disc; first gastral sternite densely punctate, with abundant short, stiff, erect setae.

Color red.

Type Material

Holotype Specimen Labels

Holotype worker: COSTA RICA, Puntarenas: Monteverde, 10.3, -84.8, ± 2 km, 1500 m, 21 Jul 1984, cloud forest, ex sifted leaf litter on ground (J. Longino) California Academy of Sciences, unique specimen identifier CASENT0627381. Paratype workers: same data except 9 Jul 1984 National Museum of Natural History, CASENT0627383; Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, CASENT0627384; 15 Jun 1991 (J. Longino#2900-s) Museum of Comparative Zoology, CASENT0639166; 13 Mar 2003 (L. A. Schonberg) John T. Longino Collection, JTLC000003934; 17 Mar 2003 (L. A. Schonberg) JTL, CJTLC000004888.


The name refers to shallow trough that separates the frontal carinae from the transverse carina on the vertex. It is a genitive singular noun and thus invariant.


  • Longino, J.T. 2013. A revision of the ant genus Octostruma Forel 1912 (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Zootaxa 3699, 1-61. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3699.1.1

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Longino J. T. L., and M. G. Branstetter. 2018. The truncated bell: an enigmatic but pervasive elevational diversity pattern in Middle American ants. Ecography 41: 1-12.
  • Longino J. et al. ADMAC project. Accessed on March 24th 2017 at https://sites.google.com/site/admacsite/