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Mexico to Argentina.
Crematogaster montezumia inhabits wet to dry forest habitats throughout the mainland Neotropics. In Costa Rica it occurs in very low density, but abundant museum collections and my own collecting in the Santa Marta area of Colombia suggest a higher density in some South American localities. Most of my observations of the species have been from brushy second growth vegetation or forest edges.
Nests are in small to large carton nests that the workers construct and vigorously defend (Emery 1890, Forel 1899, Forel 1901b, Luederwaldt 1926). The nests are in dry, exposed areas and do not contain epiphytes. Luederwaldt (1926) includes photographs of three nests. Nests I have observed have been on relatively thin branches. One I observed in Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica was on a shrub overhanging a river. The nest was 15-20cm long, 10cm wide, of black carton, and it contained workers, brood and many alate queens. During a field trip to the Santa Marta area of Colombia I discovered several nests. One nest was in dry forest near a beach margin. The nest was in a knot in a small tree out in an open field. When I disturbed the nest the workers responded by quickly swarming out and running over the knot with prominent gaster-flagging. The nest contained workers, brood, and a single queen.
Another nest was in a scrubby second growth area with pastures. A carton nest was partly covered by a dead Cecropia leaf draped over a 13mm diameter live stem of Guazuma (Sterculiaceae). Under the nest was a dense accumulation of scale insects, but no scales were exposed on the plant stems or leaves. The nest was filled with workers, brood, and one colony queen. Workers were spread over the surrounding vegetation, often moving in files, and there were small satellite nests scattered around the main nest.
A third nest was in dry forest, and they were nesting in a peculiar way. They were on a small shrub that was possibly Pisonia (Nyctaginaceae). Stems had opposite leaves with a pair of sharp recurved spines at each node, often with opposite short leafy branches at each node. On one branch, each node for 5-10 nodes had a circular hole at the base of the side branch, entering a tiny chamber only a few millimeters deep. The chambers were all occupied by workers, and one chamber was slightly larger than the others and contained workers, a small amount of brood, and a queen. A search in surrounding holes and dead stems and branches yielded no more, suggesting the colony was rather small, perhaps limited to the small number I observed.
At La Selva Biological Station nests of montezumia have never been found, but an alate queen was obtained in a canopy fogging sample. The only other Atlantic slope collection I have seen was a dealate queen I found in a small nest of C. curvispinosa. A small grass stalk contained the montezumia queen and a small number of workers of curvispinosa.
The queens are shiny and with falcate mandibles, a combination of characters often associated with social parasitism. The observation of the lone queen together with curvispinosa workers is suggestive of a parasitic lifestyle, in which colonies of host species are usurped to provide a worker force that helps establish the colony of the parasitic species. The observation of what appeared to be an incipient colony in Colombia showed no evidence of social parasitism, although it is possible that the queen had started with a heterospecific host colony and it had been completely extirpated and replaced by the montezumia workers. Alternatively, the tiny queens could be an adaptation for nest founding in extremely small spaces, such as the small cavities in the Pisonia stem.
|Crematogaster montezumia||Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 32, (download)||32||21367|
|Crematogaster montezumia||Smith, F., 1858, Catalogue of the hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae., London: British Museum: 139-140, (download)||139-140||8127|
|Crematogaster montezumia||Longino, J. T., 2003, The Crematogaster (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae) of Costa Rica., Zootaxa 151, pp. 1-150: 91-94, (download)||91-94||20256|
Found most commonly in these habitats: 1 times found in Pastures and scrubby second growth vegetation, 2 times found in rainforest, 1 times found in dry forest/beach edge, 2 times found in dry forest, 1 times found in montane rainforest clearing, 1 times found in montane wet forest, 1 times found in bosque bajo, river edge, 1 times found in SCH, 1 times found in edge of second growth rainforest, 1 times found in Entre el SHO y SSE, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times Carton nest, 1 times Nest in knot in small tree, out in open field, 1 times ex carton nest, 2 times Malaise trap, 1 times Sobre Vegetacion, 1 times nest in live stems, 1 times mid carton, 1 times bajo de M/26, 1 times workers on vegetation, 1 times Sura, 1 times on recent tree-fall, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 1 times search, 3 times Malaise, 1 times Sweeping, 1 times flight intercept trap, 1 times Red de golpeo, 1 times sweep net, 1 times Beating, 1 times Fogging.
Elevations: collected from 10 - 1410 meters, 426 meters average
Type specimens: syntype cristulata: jtl055989; syntype functa: jtl055955; syntype of Crematogaster montezumia: casent0902150; syntype of Crematogaster montezumia cristulata: casent0912744; syntype of Crematogaster montezumia functa: casent0908422; syntype of Crematogaster montezumia proletaria: casent0912745; syntype of Crematogaster sulcata: casent0919706; syntype of Crematogaster sulcata ramulinida: casent0908421; syntype sulcata: jtl055990; syntypes proletaria: jtl055991; syntypes ramulinida: jtl056050; type of Crematogaster (Orthocrema) montezumia var. ramulinida: focol0696-1, focol0696-2; type of Crematogaster sulcata: focol1619-1, focol1619-2; type of Crematogaster sulcata var. ramulinida: focol0074-1, focol0074-2