Zatania karstica

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Zatania karstica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Lasiini
Genus: Zatania
Species: Z. karstica
Binomial name
Zatania karstica
(Fontenla Rizo, 2000)

A slow moving ant relative to other members of the genus, and of all Prenolepis group species, that lives in habitats situated on limestone substrates.


The workers of this species are the only extant species that is uniformly coloured, making them relatively easy to identify.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Cuba (type locality), Greater Antilles.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


LaPolla et al. (2012): "Fontenla (2000) discussed the interesting behaviour of Zatania karstica workers. In other Zatania species workers are fast-moving individuals (not surprising given the long legs observed in workers), but in Z. karstica the workers are slower (although Fontenla did not qualify this), and they often display what he termed a frozen pose as they moved along. Fontenla (2000) suggested that this behaviour was related to the fact that the species is putatively restricted to living on limestone mogotes, and that the coloration of Z. karstica mimics Temnothorax ants (Temnothorax gundlachi and Temnothorax poeyi), with which it lives sympatrically. It has been suggested that the coloration of the Temnothorax ants is aposematic (Wilson, 1988; Fontenla, 1995), and therefore Fontenla (2000) speculated that Z. karstica is engaged in some kind of convergent mimicry to protect them against Anolis lizards, presumably one of their main predators. We have not personally observed this species in the field, but Z. karstica may be an interesting candidate for the study of adaptations (morphological and behavioural) of ants to living on limestone mogotes.



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

  • karstica. Prenolepis karstica Fontenla Rizo, 2000: 84, fig. 5 (w.) CUBA. Combination in Zatania: LaPolla, Kallal & Brady, 2012: 211.

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



LaPolla et al. (2012) - Overall coloration uniformly dark brown; scattered erect setae on head, pronotum and gaster; no erect setae on scapes, mesonotum or propodeum; whitish pubescence scattered across body; dorsal face of propodeum distinctly dome-like.

Type Locality

LaPolla et al. (2012) - Holotype worker, Cuba: Pinar del Río Province, near Ceja de Francisco, Sierra de Mesa (IESC) (examined).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Fontenla J. L., and J. Alfonso-Simonetti. 2018. Classification of Cuban ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) into functional groups. Poeyana Revista Cubana de Zoologia 506: 21-30.
  • Fontenla Rizo J. L. 2000. The genus Prenolepis Mayr, 1861 (Formicidae) in the Greater Antilles, with an outline of phylogenetic relationships. Caribb. J. Sci. 36: 76-86.
  • Fontenla, Rizo J. L. 2000. The genus Prenolepis Mayr, 1861 (Formicidae) in the Greater Antilles, with an outline of phylogenetic relationships. Caribb. J. Sci. 36: 76-86
  • LaPolla J. S., R. J. Kallal, S. G. Brady. 2012. A new ant genus from the Greater Antilles and Central America, Zatania (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), exemplifies the utility of male and molecular character systems. Systematic Entomology 37: 200-214.