Pseudomyrmex spinicola

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Pseudomyrmex spinicola
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Pseudomyrmecinae
Genus: Pseudomyrmex
Species group: ferrugineus
Species: P. spinicola
Binomial name
Pseudomyrmex spinicola
(Emery, 1890)

Pseudomyrmex spinicola casent0005800 profile 1.jpg

Pseudomyrmex spinicola casent0005800 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


This is a common species that is an obligate acacia mutualist. It is typically found nesting in Vachellia collinsii trees but can also inhabitant a few other Vachellia species.


Ward (1993) - The short, broad, emarginate and laterally angulate median clypeal lobe distinguishes the worker of this species. The sublucid integument, elongate petiole, prominent propodeal spiracles, and somewhat angulate posterolateral corners of the petiole are also characteristic. In addition, queens and workers of P. spinicola have more elongate scapes and legs than those of all other species except Pseudomyrmex satanicus. For differences between P. spinicola and the closely related P. satanicus see under the latter species.

P. spinicola is a variable taxon and has received several infraspecific names, here considered junior synonyms. Southeastern populations (from the Rio Grande de Tarcoles in Costa Rica east through Panama to northern Colombia) are somewhat differentiated from the others, with the workers and queens tending to have more elongate heads, darker color, and more slender petioles with less pronounced posterolateral angles. In Costa Rica the contrasts between the two sets of populations are rather striking, and are perhaps accentuated by habitat differences since some (but not all) the southeastern populations are associated with Acacia allenii growing in forested situations, while the northern populations are primarily from Acacia collinsii in open habitats. Samples from Panama (all associated with A. collinsii) are more variable and partly bridge the phenotypic gap. It is possible that more than one species is masquerading in this variation but the evidence remains ambiguous.


Ranging from Honduras to Colombia.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 20.85574444° to 7.55°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica (type locality), El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Ward (1993) - A monogynous species associated with Acacia collinsii and, less frequently, Acacia allenii and A. cornigera. Janzen provides a good summary of its biology in Costa Rica, under the name "P. ferruginea" (Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus). Observations on "P. ferruginea" in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Isla Providencia (Janzen 1969, 1974, 1975, 1983) refer to Pseudomyrmex spinicola; true P. ferrugineus does not occur south of Honduras and El Salvador.

Amador-Vargas (2019) found that P. spinicola made larger clearings around the trees they occupied than Pseudomyrmex flavicornis and Pseudomyrmex nigrocinctus. Pseudomyrmex spinicola workers also pruned thicker vegetative tissue, and their workers had broader heads - presumed to allow more robust pruning due to larger muscles in the head providing greater mandibular force. More generally, this study and its findings are unusual in examining plant pruning differences provided by ants involved in acacia mutalisms. Most studies of ant-provided benefits to plants in these ant-plant mutualisms focus on herbivory.



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

  • spinicola. Pseudomyrma spinicola Emery, 1890b: 64, pl. 6, fig. 2 (w.q.m.) COSTA RICA. [Also described as new by Emery, 1894k: 52.] Combination in P. (Triangulinoda): Enzmann, E.V. 1944: 61; in Pseudomyrmex: Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1956: 386. Senior synonym of atrox, gaigei, infernalis Wheeler (and its junior synonym infernalis Enzmann), scelerosa Wheeler (and its junior synonym scelerosa Enzmann): Ward, 1993: 149.
  • atrox. Pseudomyrma spinicola r. atrox Forel, 1912g: 24 (w.) PANAMA. Combination in Pseudomyrmex: Kempf, 1972a: 224. Junior synonym of spinicola: Ward, 1993: 149.
  • gaigei. Pseudomyrma spinicola r. gaigei Forel, 1914c: 615 (w.) COLOMBIA. Combination in Pseudomyrmex: Kempf, 1972a: 224. Junior synonym of spinicola: Ward, 1993: 150.
  • infernalis. Pseudomyrma spinicola subsp. infernalis Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 180 (w.q.m.) PANAMA. Combination in Pseudomyrmex: Kempf, 1972a: 224. Senior synonym of infernalis Enzmann: Brown, 1949a: 43. Junior synonym of spinicola: Ward, 1993: 150.
  • scelerosa. Pseudomyrma spinicola subsp. scelerosa Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 181 (w.) NICARAGUA. Combination in Pseudomyrmex: Kempf, 1972a: 224. Senior synonym of scelerosa Enzmann: Brown, 1949a: 43. Junior synonym of spinicola: Ward, 1993: 150.
  • infernalis. Pseudomyrma spinolae var. infernalis Enzmann, E.V. 1944: 91 (w.q.m.) PANAMA. [The name spinolae is a misspelling of spinicola.] [Unresolved junior primary homonym of infernalis Wheeler, above.] Junior synonym of infernalis Wheeler: Brown, 1949a: 43.
  • scelerosa. Pseudomyrma spinolae var. scelerosa Enzmann, E.V. 1944: 91 (w.) NICARAGUA. [The name spinolae is a misspelling of spinicola.] [Unresolved junior primary homonym of sclerosa Wheeler, above.] Junior synonym of scelerosa Wheeler: Brown, 1949a: 43.

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



Ward (1993) - measurements (n=4l). HL 0.99-1.28, HW 0.94-1.15, MFC 0.032-0.067, CI 0.84-0.97, REL 0.42-0.47, REL2 0.45-0.54, OOI 1.22-2.77, VI 0.64-0.83, FCI 0.032-0.061, SI 0.45-0.50, SI2 0.88-1.05, NI 0.61-0.69, PU 0.47-0.64, PWI 0.49-0.71, PPWI 1.32-1.85.

Median clypeal lobe emarginate, laterally angulate, relatively broad (CLW/HW 0.21-0.25). Palp formula 5,3 (rarely 5p4,3). Frontal carinae relatively close, and median lobes of antennal sclerites rather exposed (FCI2 0.24-0.42). Head longer than broad but variably so (see range of CI values). Posterior margin of head ranging from broadly convex to straight or even weakly concave, usually rounding gently into the sides of head. Basal face of propodeum subequal to declivitous face, rounding into latter; in dorsal view propodeal spiracles salient, protruding laterally. Petiole generally slender (PU <0.65) with a well developed anterior peduncle; in dorsal view posterolateral angles typically prominent. Head densely punctulate, sublucid, interspaces small (punctulae essentially contiguous on most of head) but shiny. Mesosoma finely punctulate dorsally becoming punctulate-coriarious laterally, sublucid; propodeum lacking overlying, coarser rugulo-punctate sculpture. Standing pilosity usually moderately common on body dorsum and including some hairs > 0.20 mm. Appressed pubescence common on most surfaces. Varying from light orange-brown to dark brown in color.

Type Material

Ward (1989) - Syntype workers, queens, males, Alajuela, Costa Rica (Alfaro) (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa) [Examined]. One worker here designated LECTOTYPE.

Ward (1993):

Pseudomyrma spinicola race atrox Forel 1912:24. Syntype workers, Panama (Christophersen) (Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève, Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel) [Examined]. One syntype from MHNG here designated LECTOTYPE.

Pseudomyrma spinicola race Gaigei Forel 1914:615. Syntype workers, Columbien (Gaige) (MHNG), Fundacion, Colombia (F. M. Gaige) (Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Museum of Comparative Zoology) [Examined].

Pseudomyrma spinicola subsp. infernalis Wheeler 1942:180. Syntype workers, queens, males, Venado, Canal Zone, Panama (W. M. Wheeler), Red Tank, Canal Zone, Panama (W. M, Wheeler), and Las Sabanas, Panama (W. M. Wheeler) (American Museum of Natural History, MCZC) [Examined]. One MCZC worker, from Red Tank, here designed LECTOTYPE.

Pseudomyrma spinicola subsp. scelerosa Wheeler 1942:181. Syntype workers, Granada, Nicaragua (C. F. Baker) (AMNH, MCZC) [Examined]. One MCZC worker here designated LECTOTYPE.

Pseudomyrma spinolae [sic] var. infernalis Enzmann 1945:9 1 . Syntype workers, queens, Red Tank, Canal Zone, Panama (W. M. Wheeler) (MCZC) [Examined].

Pseudomyrma spinolae [sic] var. scelerosa Enzmann 1945:91. Syntype workers, Granada, Nicaragua (C. F. Baker) (MCZC) [Examined].


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  • Ward, P.S. 2017. A review of the Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus and Pseudomyrmex goeldii species groups: acacia-ants and relatives (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 4227: 524–542 (doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4227.4.3).
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1956. The ant larvae of the subfamily Pseudomyrmecinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 49: 374-398 (page 386, Combination in Pseudomyrmex)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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