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Species: Dolichoderus debilis   Emery, 1890 

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Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2018)

Dolichoderus debilis Emery, 1890b: 69 (w.) VENEZUELA. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Combination in Dolichoderus (Monacis): Emery, 1894d PDF: 228; in Monacis: Kempf, 1959c: 247; in Hypoclinea: Lattke, 1987b PDF: 264; in Dolichoderus: Shattuck, 1992c PDF: 77.
Senior synonym of Dolichoderus parabiotica, Dolichoderus sieversi: Kempf, 1959c: 247.


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Venezuela
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):

Distribution Notes:

Guatemala south to Guianas, central and western Amazonia, Peru, and northern Bolivia. Costa Rica: southern Pacific lowlands.


Natural History:

From MacKay 1993:

This species is usually collected in wet forest. It is a timid ant which nests in twigs, branches, trunks and fence posts, often in a faculative association with Crematogaster limata parabiotica (Swain, 1977, 1980). Nests are found in termitaria of Nasutitermes ephratae, N. corniger, and N. columbicus (Wheeler, 1936; Swain, 1977). Workers are found at extrafloral nectaries of Catostemma (Bombacaceae) (Lattke, 1986). It tends coccids and membracids. A single female was collected in March (Costa Rica - LACM). It is occasionally collected in quarantine on banana debris.[MacKay Literature Cited]

Dolichoderus debilis has been reported on numerous occasions nesting together with other species of ants. Forel (1898) observed Dolichoderus debilis and Crematogaster carinata (as C. limata parabiotica) inhabiting the same nest in Colombia, and coined the term parabiosis to describe the phenomenon of mutual nest sharing. Wheeler (1921) made similar observations. Davidson has multiple observations of parabiotic foraging between D. debilis and C. carinata in Peru (pers. comm.). Her studies indicate that, unlike many other species of Dolichoderus, D. debilis has no chemical defenses and has lost them because of its parabiotic associations with other strongly defended ants.

At Carara Biological Reserve in Costa Rica I observed a parabiotic association between D. debilis and C. carinata. Nests of both species were interdigitated in a cluster of dead branches. The nests of the two species were contiguous, with interconnections among chambers, but they were still largely segregated. In general the Crematogaster occupied smaller and more peripheral chambers, while the Dolichoderus occupied larger chambers in the center of the branches. In some peripheral chambers I found workers of both species together, but these chambers never contained brood. Any chamber with brood always contained only one species.


Forel, A. (1898) La parabiose chez les fourmis, Bulletin de la Societe Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles 34, 380-384.

Wheeler, W. M. (1921) A new case of parabiosis and the "ant gardens" of British Guiana, Ecology 2, 89-103.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Treatment Citation: Forel, A., 1905, Miscellanea myrmicologiques, II (1905)., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique 49, pp. 155-185

Dolichoderus debilis Em.HNS, v. Sieversi Forel.

- Venezuela. Azteca AlfariHNS Em. - Las Trincheras, dans la cavite du Cecropia peltata.

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 1 times found in tall wet forest, 3 times found in lowland rainforest, 1 times found in River edge second growth and highly degraded forest, 1 times found in dry forest/beach edge, 1 times found in tropical moist forest, 1 times found in rainforest edge.

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times parabiotic nest in dead stems, 1 times Tending membracids on rubiac. tree, 2 times on oil palm, 1 times mit Crematogaster, 1 times Workers on Palicourea infructescence, 1 times on fruits Tetrathylacium costaricensis, 1 times strays, 1 times parabiotic foraging, 1 times on tree trunk, 1 times ground forager(s), 1 times Bamboo culins Guadu sp., ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 1 times direct collection, 1 times search.

Elevations: collected from 10 - 960 meters, 249 meters average

Type specimens: syntype of Dolichoderus debilis: casent0905035; syntype of Dolichoderus debilis parabiotica: casent0905037, casent0909454; syntype of Dolichoderus debilis sieversi: casent0909453; syntype of Dolichoderus debilis parabiotica: casent0902951, casent0902952; type of Dolichoderus debilis var. parabiotica: focol2756, focol2757, focol0777-1, focol0777-2, focol0777-3

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