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Revista Colombiana de Entomología

Print version ISSN 0120-0488
On-line version ISSN 2665-4385

Rev. Colomb. Entomol. vol.32 no.1 Bogotá Jan./June 2006



A new species of Carebara Westwood (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
and taxonomic notes on the genus


Una nueva especie de Carebara Westwood (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
y notas taxonómicas sobre el género



Profesor Asociado, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Apartado 7495, Bogotá D.C., Colombia,

Abstract. A new ant species, Carebara coqueta sp.nov. from Colombia, is described, based on the soldier and worker castes. Carebara semistriata Fernández is considered a junior synonym of Carebara reina Fernández (syn. n.). Carebara guineana is proposed as a new name for Oligomyrmex silvestrii Santschi, 1914.

Key words: Carebara coqueta, new species, Neotropics, taxonomic notes

Resumen. Se describe una nueva especie de hormiga, Carebara coqueta n. sp. de Colombia, basada en soldado y obrera. Carebara semistriata Fernández se coloca como sinónimo menor de Carebara reina Fernández (n. sin.). Carebara guineana se propone como nuevo nombre para Oligomyrmex silvestrii Santschi, 1914.

Palabras clave: Carebara, nueva especie, Neotrópico, notas taxonómicas.


The recent revision of the myrmicine ant genus Carebara Westwood for the West-ern Hemisphere (Fernández 2004) broad-ened the generic limits of this name with the incorporation of Oligomyrmex, Paedalgus, Afroxyidris and Neoble-pharidatta, as synonyms of Carebara. The genus in its new sense was split in three sections, the concinna, lignata and escherischi species groups. The first one, the concinna species group, corresponds to the concept of Oligomyrmex; the second, the lignata species group to the traditional Carebara s. str., and the esche-rischi species group to Paedalgus. The first two groups are probably paraphy-letic taxa, with only the escherischi spe-cies group apparently monophyletic (Bolton and Belshaw 1993). This paper includes the description of a new species along with some other taxonomic changes and comments.

Materials and Methods

Measurements were made using a micro-meter in a Nikon SMZ 2T stereomi-croscope at 80X magnifications, with a fiber ring lamp. All measurements are in mm: HL - Head length: Maximum length, in full face view, from the apex of the clypeal apron to the middle of vertex; HW - Head width: Maximum width in full face view; SL - Scape length (ex-cluding basal condyle and neck), in straight line distance; PW - Pronotal width: Maximum width across pronotum in dorsal view; WL - Weber’s length: In lateral view of mesosoma, the line from posteroventral corner of mesosoma to far-thest point on anterior face of pronotum; GL - Gaster length: In lateral view, the line from anterior edge of first gastral tergum to posteriormost point; TL - Total length (HL + Mandible length + WL + Petiole length + Postpetiole length + GL); CI - Cephalic index: HW/HL; SI - Scape index: SL/HW.


IAvH. Insect Collection, Instituto Hum-boldt, Claustro de San Agustín, Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

INBio. Instituto Nacional de Biodiver-sidad, San José, Costa Rica.

Taxonomic section

Carebara lignata species complex

This complex comprises those dimorphic and monomorphic Carebara whose mi-nor workers are always eyeless. In the Carebara revision (Fernández 2004) the name of the group was incorrectly written as “Carebara concinna species complex” in the heading of the section of this group in the page 211, the name must be changed to Carebara lignata species complex.

Carebara coqueta new species (Fig. 1)

Description (major worker). Head longer than broad, posterior border semicircularly excised, sides straight, parallel. Mastica-tory border with five stout teeth. Clypeus narrow, medial portion slightly concave. Frontal triangle well-defined. Frontal lobes somewhat continued posteriorly as short longitudinal rugulae. Scapes very short. Ocelli and eyes absent. In lateral view mesosoma flat, mesonotum slightly higher, propodeum lower. Pronotal suture feebly impressed dorsally. Metanotum narrow. Dorsal face of propodeum sloping and then curving into the posterior face, without spines or angles. Propodeal spiracle rela-tively large, rounded, close to metapleural gland bullae. Petiole with short peduncle, lateral swellings and ventrally with strong spine. Postpetiole in posterior view campanuliform, ventrally with anterior cari-nae. Body smooth, somewhat shining. Head, promesonotum, sides of pronotum and mesopleura with longitudinal rugae. Metapleuron, propodeum, petiole and postpetiole (except dorsal sides) with fine reticulation. Pubescence very sparse over body except propodeum. Long hairs (about 0.13 mm) dense on head; several on promesonotum, petiole, postpetiole and gaster. Body brown.

Holotype major worker measurements: HW 0.48 HL 0.64 SL 0.25 PW 0.25 WL 0.53 GL 0.49 TL 2.03 CI 75 SI 52.

Description (minor worker). Head longer than wide. Posterior border slightly concave, lateral margins faintly concave. Mandibles with 4 teeth. Median portion of clypeus nearly flat. In frontal oblique view, clypeal lateral cari-nae strongly narrowed posteriorly and between frontal lobes, then continued as frontal triangle. Scapes fail to reach posterior border by 1/2 of head length. In side view, mesosoma slightly convex, interrupted by deep metanotal groove. Dorsal face of propodeum curving into posterior face. Propodeal spiracle rela-tively large, circular, high and very close to propodeal margin. Propodeal meta-pleural lobes reduced to narrow lamel-lae that reach the propodeal dorsum. Petiole with short peduncle, evenly con-tinuous with the dorsal rounded node. Subpetiolar process produced as anterior spine directed forward, spine nor-mally not visible in mounted specimens. Postpetiole dorsally concave, lower than petiole. In dorsal view petiole longer than wide, postpetiole globose, more or less as long as wide. Anterior margin of first tergum in side view straight. Body smooth and shining. Mandibles with several scattered punctures, head with scattered punctures (except in the central longitudinal area), each punctum with a small hair. Anterior sides of head with very fine longitudinal striation. Sides of mesosoma (except pronotum), petiole, postpetiole and dorsum of petiolar peduncle with a faint to moder-ate reticulation. Short curved hairs (less than 0.03 mm) relatively abundant over body, especially dorsum. Medium length hairs (about 0.04 mm or longer): Four on clypeus projecting forward, four on promesonotum (two anteriorly, two posteriorly), two on petiole, four on postpetiole. Body yellow brown.

Minor worker measurements (n=1) Para-type. HW 0.26 HL 0.31 SL 0.18 PW 0.15 WL 0.29 GL 0.35 TL 1.04 CI 84 SI 69.

Female, Male: Unknown.

Type data. Holotype major worker: Colombia: Caquetá, Chiribiquete National Park, Mesay River, “Blue Green” Forest, site 5, 00°14’n 72°56’w, 8.ii.2000, Winkler 64 in Terra Firme forest, 300 m.o.s.l., F. Quevedo (Deposited in IAvH). Paratypes: 1 major worker, 2 minor work-ers, same data (Deposited in IAvH).

Distribution. Known only from the type locality.

Comments. The major worker of this species is smaller than that of C. tenua or C. coeca, and on the basis of size is more closely related to C. panamensis. Nevertheless, C. panamensis is even smaller (according to Wheeler 1925) with total length of 1.30 mm (vs. 2.03 mm in C. coqueta). The sculpturing dif-fers between the two species, and is more extensive in C. coqueta. The pana-mensis major worker/ergatoid has eyes and a median ocellus, although this might be associated in some way with its ergatoid condition. The minor work-ers of the two species are undistin-guishable, at least based on Wheeler’s (1925) description. As I pointed out in a recent paper (Fernández 2004:212), there are several undescribed species in this complex whose limits and variation are not well understood, additionally, the minor workers are practically use-less for species identification. Thus, I think that is better to postpone a key to species until more material (with sol-diers and minor workers associated) are studied.

Longino (2004) calls attention to the paucity of samples of Carebara (lignata group) with both workers and soldiers. In other myrmicine ants like Pheidole or Solenopsis it is not difficult to find work-ers and soldiers in the field, which sug-gests that soldiers of Carebara are not present in the same foraging strata as workers. This suggests that, to obtain sol-diers of Carebara, we need to dig in the soil or look for them in rotten logs (Longino 2004). The fact that many mu-seums only have minor workers of the typical Carebara (that is, the lignata spe-cies group) could be due to the reason pointed out above, and in reality all of the species of this complex may be di-morphic. The exasperating monotony of the minor workers of the lignata species group (some of them only 0.90 mm long!) makes it desirable to obtain and to study collections that include soldiers, besides females and males. If my prediction is cor-rect, and all the species of the lignata group possess major workers (although difficult to collect), it should be possible to revise the group on a global scale.

Finally, I want to call attention to the in-teresting intercaste phenomenon in this group. Kusnezov (1952) and Wheeler (1925) pointed out and described cases of intermediates between major workers (soldiers) and females. The great plastic-ity in the external attributes of the sol-diers of the lignata species group (such as the presence / absence of ocelli and eyes, and vestigial alary sclerites) make this an ideal group for the study of the evolution of caste intergradations; as pro-posed by Baroni Urbani and Passera (1996), who suggest that in some cases the soldier developed not from the worker, but from the female (see Ward 1997 for a reply).

Escherischi species complex

The species in this complex (except by the enigmatic C. intermedia Fernández) correspond to the previously recognized genus Paedalgus sensu Bolton & Bel-shaw (1993). The head is slightly narrower anteriorly, the eyes, always present, are reduced to a few ommatidia and the propodeum is very short. In the treatment of the species of this complex (Fernandez 2004) there is an error in the description of Carebara reina; moreover, new recent evidence throw suspicion on the valid-ity of Carebara semistriata as good spe-cies. For these reasons, it is included the complete description of C. reina, below.

Carebara reina Fernández

Carebara reina Fernández, 2004:228 (worker)

= Carebara semistriata Fernández, 2004:229 (worker) syn. nov.

Eyes reduced to 1 ommatidium. Lamel-lae of metapleural lobes low. Dorsum of head densely sculptured with very small, shallow foveolate punctures, broadly separated; mid dorsum to almost all of promesonotum with dense, fine longitudinal striations mixed with scattered small punctures, periphery of promeso-notum, dorsal and posterior face of propodeum and petiole densely reticu-lated. Postpetiole and gaster smooth and shining. Scapes, dorsum of head, prome-sonotum and legs with appressed pubes-cence, denser on head. Body nearly naked of long hairs, with only few (about 0.05 mm) distributed as follows: four on clypeal area; two on each frontal lobe; two on head (each one near occipital cor-ner), eight on promesonotum, two on propodeum, none on legs; two on peti-ole, four on postpetiole, several on first tergal dorsum. Body brown, appendages lighter, most of gaster dark brown.

Female, male: Unknown

Distribution. Nicaragua to Colombia (Bolívar, Valle del Cauca).

New records: 2 workers, COSTA RICA, Cartago, 4 km E Turrialba, 9°54’N 83°39’W, 550 m, 13 may 1987, J. Lon-gino No. 1644-S, INBio CRI00 2280244; 1 worker, COSTA RICA, Limón, Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve, 9°40’N 83°02’W, 500 m, 30 aug 1985, J. Longino No. 970-S, INBio CRI00 2279068.

Comments. John Longino (2004) correc-tly notes an incongruence in part of the description of Carebara reina, and observes that the extension of the longitudinal striation on the promesonotal dorsum of C. reina and C. semistriata is a variable attribute, and I support his opin-ion, based on new material. The type material of C. reina has a distribution of erect hairs clearly as in the description above, Since in this group of species the hair patterns are the most reliable trait to recognize species. I accept the weakness of the striation extension as a good trait and I place C. semistriata as junior syno-nym of C. reina.

The key for the species in this complex (Fernández 2004) should be modified as follow:

9.    Mid and hind tibiae without stand-ing hairs .............................................................................................................................. 10

9’. Mid and hind tibiae with standing hairs (Southwestern Colombia) .....................................................................................................C. kofana

10.  Standing hairs: none on dorsum of head, four in promesonotum, none on propodeum, two on first tergum of gaster
(Colombia, Trinidad, Perú, Brazil) ..........................................................................................................................................C. striata

10’.Standing hairs: two in head dorsum, eight in promesonotum, two in propodeum, several in first tergum of gaster
(Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia) .........................................................................................................................................C. reina

Carebara inca Fernández

Originally described from workers from Perú, Longino (2004) records this species for first time for Central America.

New record: 1 w, COSTA RICA, Puntarenas, Osa, Rancho Quemado, 8°42’N 83°33’W, 2-300m, 15 dec 1990, J. Longino No. 2760-S, INBio CRI001, 280880.

Final note

Gary Alpert (Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge) and Barry Bolton (The Natural History Museum, London) alerted me to a unresolved junior secon-dary homonym between Carebara silves-trii Santschi and Aneleus silvestrii Santschi. The name Carebara guineana is proposed as new name for Carebara silvestrii Santschi 1914:362.


Special thanks are due to Dr. John T. Longino (INBio) and Mauricio Alvarez (IAvH) for the loan of critical material. Partial support came from NSF grant DEBS Nos. 9972024 and 0205982 to Dr. Michael Sharkey (University of Kentu-

cky) and Dr. Brian Brown (LACM) by way of the Instituto Humboldt, Colombia. Thanks to Fernando Gast (General Director), Mauricio Alvarez (Biodiversity In-ventories Program) and GEMA team of the Humboldt Institute for their conti-nuous support and the Parks Unit of the Ministerio del Medio Ambiente de Colombia for collecting and maintaining facilities in Colombia. William P. Mac-Kay (University of Texas at El Paso) of-fered several corrections and suggestions and improve the English of the text. Thanks also to three anonymous review-ers for their comments. This paper is dedi-cated to the memory of my friend Favio Quevedo, collector of the samples from Chiribiquete, who recently past away in an accident in Caquetá.

Literature cited

BARONI URBANI, C. PASSERA, L. 1996. Origin of ant soldiers. Nature 383: 223.        [ Links ]

BOLTON, B., BELSHAW, R.. 1993. Taxo-nomy and biology of the supposedly lestobiotic ant genus Paedalgus (Hym.: Formicidae). Systematic Entomology 18:181-189.        [ Links ]

FERNÁNDEZ, F. 2004. The American spe-cies of the myrmicine ant genus Carebara Westwood (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Caldasia 26(1): 191-238.        [ Links ]

KUSNEZOV, N. 1952. El género Oligo-myrmex Mayr en la Argentina (Hymenop-tera, Formicidae). Acta Zoológica Lilloana 10: 183-187.        [ Links ]

LONGINO, J.T. 2004. Ants of Costa Rica Web Page: (visited 12.XII.2005)        [ Links ]

SANTSCHI, F. 1914. Formicides de l’Afrique occientale et australe du voyage de Mr. le Professeur F. Silvestre. Bolletino del Laboratorio di Zoología generale e agraria della R. Scuola superiore d’Agricultura in Portici 8:309-385.        [ Links ]

WARD, P.S. 1997. Ant soldiers are not modi-fied queens. Nature 385:494-495.        [ Links ]

WHEELER, W. M. 1925. A new guest-ant and other new Formicidae from Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Biological Bulletin 49: 150-181.        [ Links ]


Recibido: 03-ene-06 • Aceptado: 31-ene-06

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