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Guatemala to northern Argentina. Costa Rica: scattered localities including La Selva Biological Station, Santa Rosa National Park, Monteverde area.
From MacKay 1993:
Swain (1977) reported on the biology of this species. These ants are often found on trunks and in canopies of tropical trees, especially mango trees, and are often together with workers of D. bispinosus. Workers are primarily active at night. They seem to be most common in riparian sites and areas with waterlogged soils where few other ant species occur. Nests are found in and under bark of trees (Lattke, 1986), especially of caracolÁ (Anacardium excellsum, pers. obs.), and in hollow stems, at a height of 0.5 - 25 meters. The nest may be constructed of fine carton. Nests are apparently monogynous and populations are not known to exceed 80 workers. They also nest in bromeliads, among roots of orchids and in abandoned moth cocoons, often together with D. bispinosus. Works move rapidly, but are relatively non-aggressive when disturbed and dedicate themselves to rescue brood instead of defend the nest. Workers do not produce a dolichoderine odor. Females are attracted to lights.[MacKay Literature Cited]
The species is a low density element of the La Selva canopy fauna, and D. bispinosus does not occur there, so any association with bispinosus is facultative.
I have observed nests of lamellosus twice. Once was in the dry forest habitat of Santa Rosa National Park. I was collecting at night along the nature trail near the Casona. I found a very cryptic nest in an elliptical depression in a broad tree trunk (Fig. 1). The nest was about 10cm long and completely covered with a smooth expanse of fine carton construction. I spotted the nest because an aggregation of workers and a few alate queens were standing on the outer surface of the carton, possibly due to a nuptial flight. Inside the nest there were some larger brood and workers but no small brood or queen, suggesting that this was just a colony fragment and more were nesting elsewhere. The second nest was in the Santa Marta area of Colombia, where workers and brood were scattered throughout an abandoned termite nest in the fork of a small tree.
Figure 1. Nest of Dolichoderus lamellosus observed at Santa Rosa National Park, 13 July 1985. Images by J. Longino.
Alto Paraná, Caaguazú, Canindeyú, Central (ALWC, INBP, LACM).
Found most commonly in these habitats: 1 times found in dry forest, 1 times found in nest chest height in bark, 2 times found in 2nd growth forest, 2 times found in CES 300m., 2 times found in SSO 450m, 1 times found in lowland rainforest, 1 times found in mature wet forest, 1 times found in wet forest clearing, 1 times found in Pastures and scrubby second growth vegetation, 1 times found in rainforest edge, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 3 times in fresh treefall, 1 times Shade tree in coffee farm, 1 times nest under carton on treetrunk, 1 times nest in abandoned termite nest, 2 times Malaise trap, 1 times carton nest on trunk, 1 times at light, 1 times Prima vera log, 1 times One of the ALAS fogging samples, from Carapa guianensis crown., 1 times on tree trunk, 1 times on recent tree-fall, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 16 times Fogging, 7 times search, 3 times Blacklight, 3 times direct collection, 3 times Malaise, 1 times Malaise trap, 1 times Manual sampling.
Elevations: collected from 20 - 850 meters, 243 meters average