Rhopalothrix isthmica

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Rhopalothrix isthmica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Rhopalothrix
Species: R. isthmica
Binomial name
Rhopalothrix isthmica
(Weber, 1941)

Rhopalothrix isthmica casent0235905 p 1 high.jpg

Rhopalothrix isthmica casent0235905 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

This species occurs in moderately seasonal to aseasonal wet forest, from sea level to 2000m elevation. All recent specimens are from Winkler or Berlese samples of sifted leaf litter. It is rare for ant species to occur across such a broad elevational spectrum, and given the considerable variability in setal pattern and wide geographic range, it may comprise multiple allopatric populations with unknown degrees of genetic divergence. In Honduras it was a rare cloud forest species at Comayagua and La Muralla and a rare lowland species along the north Caribbean coast. At La Union, in the mountains southeast of Zacapa, Guatemala, it was a rare species sympatric with the much more abundant Rhopalothrix megisthmica. In cloud forest on the slopes of Volcán Atitlán in western Guatemala it was abundant—occurring in 29 of 100 miniWinkler samples—and sympatric with the smaller Rhopalothrix atitlanica. (Longino & Boudinot, 2013)


Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Longino and and Boudinot (2013) - Knowledge of the biology of the Rhopalothrix isthmica clade of Rhopalothrix is conjectural; a nest has never been recovered and a live specimen never seen. What we know is based on locations and frequencies of capture using various mass-sampling methods. Specimens are known from wet to moderately seasonal forest, from sea level to 2140 m elevation. At higher elevation, they are found in diverse mesophyll forest and in forests with various combinations of Liquidambar and montane oak. In Costa Rica, they are restricted to the wet forests of the Atlantic slope, to 1500 m on the Barva Transect in the Cordillera Volcánica Central and to 800 m in the Cordillera de Tilarán. The genus is unknown from the Monteverde cloud forest at 1500 m, the lowland wet forests of the Osa Peninsula, and the lowland tropical dry forests of Guanacaste, in spite of intensive collecting efforts in these areas. Further north in Central America they can occur at higher elevations.

In quantitative sampling at La Selva Biological Station, in the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica, occurrences were relatively more frequent in soil/litter cores than in samples of sifted litter from the soil surface. This suggests that nests are subterranean, with workers only occasionally venturing up into the litter layer. Dealate queens are known for a few species, occurring occasionally in Winkler or Berlese samples. Alate queens of one La Selva species were found in canopy fogging samples, one each in two separate fogging events. Oddly, alate queens have not been found in the many Malaise samples from La Selva. Males remain unknown.


Known only from the worker caste.



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

  • isthmica. Acanthidris isthmicus Weber, 1941a: 188, figs. 4-7 (w.) PANAMA. Combination in Rhopalothrix: Brown & Kempf, 1960: 235.

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



Length 2.2 mm. (of thorax, in straight line from anterior pronotal margin to apex of episternal angles, 0.51 mm.). Head angular; in front view, excluding mandibles, one-sixth broader than long, occipital margin distinctly concave, occipital angles evenly rounded, sides of head produced as two convexities back of antennal insertions and an even convexity at insertions extending to clypeus, anterior clypeal margin feebly convex; frontal lobes small but covering antennal insertions, convex, and partially roofing a distinct fossa for the accommodation of the antennae; eye minute, apparently of a single facet, situated beneath a gibbosity at the upper margin of the antennal scrobe at a level about opposite the middle of the scape; antennal scrobes complete, divided into a proximal part for the antennal insertions and a distal part for the entire scape and proximal joints; mandibles porrect, stout, outer margin strongly convex, with a very long sub-apical spine-like tooth, three apical denticles, and on the inner surface about seven acute denticles alternating in two sizes; antennal scapes strongly elbowed with a slender rod-like pedicel and a massive, much larger distal portion, scape failing to reach the occipital angles by a distance equal to over half its length, terminal funicular joint longer than all preceding joints but shorter than the scape.

Thorax with a short neck, in profile with pronotum slightly angulate in front and separated from mesonotum by a feeble depression, the latter feebly convex; meso-epinotal impression shallow, epinotum with a high translucent lamina on either side starting from the basal surface and prolonged as distinct spines separating basal and declivous regions, the lamina produced beneath the spines as an irregular lobe. Thorax from above, excluding neck, broader through pronotum than its length to meso-epinotal impression, convex laterally, mostly flat on top, meso-epinotal impression laterally distinct. Petiole in profile with a distinct peduncle whose anterior dorsal surface is convex and whose mid-ventral surface bears a distinct hooked process directed anteriorly; node slightly convex above, feebly pedunculate behind; node from above transversely elliptical except for the nearly straight posterior margin, about two-fifths broader than long. Postpetiole in profile longer than petiolar node, convex above, highest at posterior half; from above kidney-shaped, the anterior margin strongly concave, the posterior convex, two and one-half times broader than long. First gastric segment covering more than three-fourths of gaster when viewed from above and with anterior margin strongly concave, flattened dorsally, remaining segments much smaller. Legs of moderate proportions, median legs including coxae much the smallest, tibiae massive.

Opaque, densely punctate, integument largely obscured by an apparent glandular deposit extending even to the mandibles.

Pilosity diverse, of sparse, short clavate hairs over the body generally, much longer and slenderer hairs confined largely to the mouthparts, terminal gastric segments and appendages; and coarse squamate-clavate hairs confined largely to the scapes, tarsi, tibiae and posterior half of gaster.

Reddish-ferruginous, appendages but slightly paler.

Longino and Boudinot (2013) - HW 0.58–0.68 (n=13); mandible with three teeth on masticatory margin, middle tooth largest; subapical tooth with distinct reclinate denticle at base; subapical tooth about twice as long as apical tooth; intercalary teeth prominent, one closest to apical tooth about half as long as apical tooth; labrum trapezoidal, anterior lobes triangular, inner margins of lobes shallowly sloping to semicircular median notch; propodeal tooth acute to right-angled, infradental lamella evenly and shallowly concave; squamiform setae abundant on first gastral tergite, either uniformly covering entire tergite or covering varying extent of posterior portion, at least posterior half with abundant setae.

Type Material

Holotype: One worker taken July 29, 1938, on Barro Colorado Island, Panama Canal Zone, by Mr. E. C. Williams, Jr. (No. 313 (131). It probably belonged to the floor fauna of the rain forest covering the island.


  • Brown, W. L., Jr.; Kempf, W. W. 1960. A world revision of the ant tribe Basicerotini. Stud. Entomol. (n.s.) 3: 161-250 (page 235, Combination in Rhopalothrix)
  • Longino J. T. and Boudinot B. E. 2013. New species of Central American Rhopalothrix Mayr, 1870 (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Zootaxa. 3616:301-324. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3616.4.1
  • Weber, N. A. 1941a. Four new genera of Ethiopian and Neotropical Formicidae. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 34: 183-194 (page 188, figs. 4-7 worker described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Achury R., and A.V. Suarez. 2017. Richness and composition of ground-dwelling ants in tropical rainforest and surrounding landscapes in the Colombian Inter-Andean valley. Neotropical Entomology https://doi.org/10.1007/s13744-017-0565-4
  • Basset Y., L. Cizek, P. Cuenoud, R. K. Didham, F. Guilhaumon, O. Missa, V. Novotny, F. Odegaards, T. Roslin, J. Schmidl et al. 2012. Arthropod diversity in a tropical forest. Science 338(6113): 1481-1484.
  • Brown W. L., Jr., and W. W. Kempf. 1960. A world revision of the ant tribe Basicerotini. Stud. Entomol. (n.s.) 3: 161-250.
  • Donoso D. A. 2014. Assembly mechanisms shaping tropical litter ant communities. Ecography 37 doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00253.x
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Longino J. T., and B. E. Boudinot. 2013. New species of Central American Rhopalothrix Mayr, 1870 (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Zootaxa 3616: 301-324.
  • Quiroz-Robledo L., and J. Valenzuela González. 2010. First record of the ant Rhopalothrix weberi Brown and Kempf 1960 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae) for Mexico. Florida Entomologist. 93: 319- 320.
  • Weber N. A. 1941. Four new genera of Ethiopian and Neotropical Formicidae. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 34: 183-194.