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Colombia (type loc.), Costa Rica. Costa Rica: Atlantic lowlands, moist Pacific slope near Monteverde.
These ants are so extremely tiny that they are probably more common than we think. I know this species from CATIE near Turrialba, Hitoy Cerrere Biological Reserve, La Selva Biological Station, and a Pacific slope site at 900m elevation just west of Monteverde. All the collections I have seen have been from either Winkler or Berlese samples of litter from the forest floor.
Fern‡ndez described this species from a Colombian collection and deposited a paratype in my collection. The paratype is identical to material I have from Costa Rica. However, there are errors in the published description. The description states "Body nearly naked of long hairs, with only a few (about 0.05 mm) distributed as follows: four in the clypeal area; two on each frontal lobe; four on promesonotum, none on propodeum, none on legs; two on petiole, two on the postpetiole, two on first tergal dorsum." This is repeated in the key, which refers to "two [setae] in first tegum gaster." The paratype I have and all my Costa Rican material has abundant erect setae, more than ten, on the first gastral tergite.
Fern‡ndez described another species, C. semistriata, with holotype from Colombia and a paratype series from Nicaragua. The description states "Body nearly naked of long hairs, with only a few (about 0.05 mm) distributed as follows: four in the clypeal area; two on each frontal lobe; two on the head (each one near occipital corner), eight on promesonotum, two on propodeum, none on legs; two on petiole, four on the postpetiole, several on first tergal dorsum." This is more like the correct description of C. reina. In the key, C. semistriata is differentiated from C. reina by having the promesonotal striation incomplete, not extending to the posterior margin. Given the widespread occurrence of C. reina in Costa Rica and no evidence of multiple sympatric species with striate promesonotum, my suspicion is that the extent of promesonotal striation is variable, and the Nicaraguan paratypes of C. semistriata are misidentified C. reina. In the publication, C. reina is described from one collection and C. semistriata from two, so it would not suprise me if these were revealed to be synonyms.
Fern‡ndez C., F. 2004. The American species of the myrmicine ant genus Carebara Westwood (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Caldasia 26:191-238.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 23 times found in mature wet forest, 15 times found in tropical wet forest, 8 times found in wet forest, 8 times found in tropical rainforest, 8 times found in lowland rainforest, 1 times found in Puesto#10,155G, 10m, 4 times found in montane wet forest, 2 times found in Primary wet forest, 1 times found in Puesto 1,99G,10m., 3 times found in rainforest, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 68 times ex sifted leaf litter, 2 times Bosque Primario, Suelo, 1 times ex sifted leaf litter and rotten wood, Cylindrical soil sample taken at edge of lab clearing in front of ALAS times 3356-s, 1 times in soil, 1 times Hojarasca, 1 times ex sifted litter, 1 times ex fungi and rotten wood, 1 times Camino toma de Agua.
Collected most commonly using these methods: 44 times miniWinkler, 13 times Winkler, 9 times Berlese, 15 times MaxiWinkler, 7 times Mini Winkler, 2 times x winkler, 1 times search.
Elevations: collected from 5 - 900 meters, 326 meters average