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Mexico to Costa Rica. Costa Rica: widespread in wet to moist habitats.
The taxonomy and biology of A. xanthochroa is reviewed in Longino (1989b, 1991a, b). See also general treatment of the Cecropia-Azteca association in Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica, A. xanthochroa is one of the most common Cecropia ants in wet forested areas. In the Atlantic lowlands, colonies are most frequently found in C. obtusifolia, a common tree of disturbed areas. Cecropia insignis, a tree more often in primary forest, is dominated by A. ovaticeps. As one moves up-slope, both C. obtusifolia and A. ovaticeps drop out, and A. xanthochroa is then frequently found in C. insignis throughout the rest of its elevational range (up to 1100m in the Penas Blancas Valley east of Monteverde). Above this limit, C. insignis is replaced by the non-myrmecophytic C. angustifolia. Founding queens may be found in C. angustifolia saplings, well above the elevational limit of C. insignis, but never in mature trees. These queens are presumably doomed dispersants from lower elevations. On the Pacific slopes of northwestern Costa Rica, a narrow band of C. obtusifolia separates cloud forest C. angustifolia from the common C. peltata which is throughout the seasonally dry lowlands. Azteca xanthochroa is common in this narrow band, but does not occur at lower elevations where C. peltata dominates (Longino, 1989).
In C. obtusifolia, colonies maintain a longitudinal fissure near the base of the tree, from which very large workers emerge when the tree is disturbed. These large workers bite only infrequently, perhaps because they have difficulty maneuvering their large heads or obtaining a grip with their large mandibles (Perlman, pers. com.). Many smaller workers emerge from branch tips, however, and these are very aggressive and readily bite. All reproduction is concentrated in a single carton nest in the bole, and there are no entrance holes near this central nest. Internal communication is maintained with all branch tips, which contain only workers, coccoid homoptera, and cached muellerian bodies.
Nest structure appears quite different in C. insignis, perhaps due to the much thicker wood of the bole, or to the fact that it is inhabited mainly at higher elevations where it is much cooler and wetter. For example, in the Penas Blancas Valley (800-900m), colonies are smaller and less aggressive. They occur high in the tree, sometimes in only a portion of the crown, and they do not maintain a basal fissure.
|Azteca||Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 8-10, (download)||8-10||21311|
|Azteca xanthochroa||Forel, A., 1899, Biologia Centrali-Americana; or, contributions to the knowledge of the fauna and flora of Mexico and Central America. Insecta. Hymenoptera. 3 (Formicidae)., London: Unknown Publisher: 115, (download)||115||8170|
|Azteca xanthochroa||Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 52-54, (download)||52-54||21311|
Found most commonly in these habitats: 9 times found in La Selva, 14 times found in montane wet forest, 4 times found in 2nd growth vegetation, 5 times found in wet forest, 6 times found in roadside vegetation, 1 times found in 2° mesophil forest, 1 times found in pasture/cloud forest edge, 2 times found in tropical rainforest, 3 times found in road edge through tall wet forest, 2 times found in mature wet forest, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 12 times ex Cecropia sapling, 7 times Malaise trap, 7 times in Cecropia sapling, 4 times In Cecropia obtusifolia sapling, 4 times ex Cecropia, 1 times on ground/ vegetation, 1 times on Cecropia tree, 3 times ex Cecropia insignis sapling, 1 times Wet forest. Ex Cecropia insignis saplings. Pseudomyrmex colony in two internodes, 2 times in Cecropia insignis sapling, 1 times Cecropia survey with OTS student Ann Brunneau. Road to San Luis at lower edge of, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 27 times search, 30 times Malaise, 1 times hand collecting, 4 times Malaise trap, 4 times Fogging, 3 times flight intercept trap, 1 times Baiting, 1 times beating, 1 times Blacklight, 1 times direct collection.
Elevations: collected from 5 - 1550 meters, 457 meters average