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Genus: Atta   Fabricius, 1804 


Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2018)

18 species

Atta Fabricius, 1804 PDF: 421. Type-species: Formica cephalotes, by subsequent designation of Wheeler, 1911g PDF: 159. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Atta in Poneridae, Attidae: Smith, 1858a PDF: 161.
Atta in Myrmicinae: Mayr, 1855 PDF: 459 [Myrmicidae]; Smith, 1857a PDF: 77 [Myrmicidae]; Mayr, 1861 PDF: 65 [Myrmicidae]; Mayr, 1865 PDF: 18 [Myrmicidae]; Smith, 1871b PDF: 333 [Myrmicidae]; Cresson, 1887 PDF: 259 [Myrmicidae]; Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 150.
Atta in Myrmicinae, Attini: Emery, 1877b PDF: 81 [Myrmicidae, Attidae]; Forel, 1893b PDF: 163; Emery, 1895l PDF: 770; Forel, 1899B: 30; Wheeler, 1910a PDF: 141; Emery, 1914e: 42; Forel, 1917 PDF: 247; Wheeler, 1922: 669; Emery, 1924f PDF: 352; all subsequent authors.
[Myrmegis (nomen nudum) referable to Atta: Brown, 1973b PDF: 182 (see under Myrmegis).].
Genus Atta references
Mayr, 1855 PDF: 459 (diagnosis); Smith, 1858a PDF: 161, 180 (Atta, Oecodoma diagnoses); Mayr, 1861 PDF: 66 (Europe species key); Roger, 1863b PDF: 35 (catalogue); Mayr, 1863a PDF: 395, 437 (catalogue); Mayr, 1865 PDF: 18 (diagnosis); Cresson, 1887 PDF: 259 (U.S.A. catalogue); Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 150 (catalogue); Gallardo, 1916e PDF: 340 (Argentina species key); Emery, 1924f PDF: 352 (diagnosis, catalogue); Gonçalves, 1942 PDF: 334 (all species key); Gonçalves, 1947a PDF: 186 (south & central Brazil species key); Chapman & Capco, 1951 PDF: 82 (Asia checklist, anachronisms); Borgmeier, 1959b PDF: 335 (subgenera key); Borgmeier, 1959b PDF: 337 (diagnosis, all species revision, key); Kempf, 1972b PDF: 26 (Neotropical catalogue); Smith, 1979: 1413 (North America catalogue); MacKay & MacKay, 1988: 25 (Colombia species key); Cherrett & Cherrett, 1989 PDF: 1 (bibliography); Brandão, 1991 PDF: 328 (catalogue); Bolton, 1994: 105 (synoptic classification); Bolton, 1995a PDF: 1048 (census); Bolton, 1995b: 75 (catalogue); Cantone, 2017 PDF: 189 (brief male diagnosis)

Taxon Page Images:

A large Atta sexdens worker cuts through a leaf while a smaller worker guards against the overzealous photographer. Captive colony at the University of Texas.
Image © Alex Wild.


   (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists)   Genus is native to: Nearctic, Neotropical bioregions (based on species list records).

Nearctic Region: United States
Neotropical Region: Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela


Borgmeier 1959_Revision der gattung Atta_Translated key to males
Interpreted by B.E. Boudinot (University of Utah/University of California, Davis) 7 May 2013

Key to males:

1. Telomere articulated with basimere as if on a hinge. Penisvalvar ventral keel serrated … 2
- Telomere fused with basimere. Penisvalvar ventral keel without teeth … 6
2. Apicodorsal lobes[?] of penisvalva dentate. Penisvalva with a dorsal longitudinal keel and apicodorsal lobate hook; basimere produced dorsomedially … (Atta s.str.; Central and South America) 3
- Apicodorsal lobes[?; direct translation = fascia or strips] of penisvalva edentate. Penisvalva without dorsal longitudinal keel or apicodorsal lobate hook; basimeres dorsomedially fused … (Archeatta Gonçalves; Central and North America, Caribbean) 4
3. Basimere longer than wide in dorsal view (Fig. 10). Penisvalvar apicodorsal lobate hooks long … Atta cephalotes Linn.
- Basimere length subequal to width in dorsal view (Fig. 11). Penisvalvar apicodorsal lobate hooks shorter … Atta colombica Guerin
4. Dorsomedial margins of the penisvalvar notch straight, not bulged (Figure 16) … Atta mexicana Fr Smith
- Dorsomedian margins of the penisvalvar notch concave (Fig. 13) … 5
5. Lateral face of truncated volsellar apex with an anterior- (or basally-) directed carina (Figure 29) … Atta texana Buckley
- Lateral face of truncated volsellar apex without an anterior- (or basally-) directed carina (Figure 27) … Atta insularis Guerin
6. Penisvalva with lateral margins folded dorsomedially; apex narrow, convex … (Neoatta Gonçalves) 7
- Penisvalva without dorsomedially-folded lateral margins; apex broad, convex, and with an apicolateral digitiform process … (Palaeatta Borgm.) 12
7. Penisvalva, in dorsal view separated [unfused?], with vertical sides… Atta sexdens Linn.
- Penisvalva in dorsal view more-or-less spoon-shaped, sides sloping, dorsal margins turned inward … 8
8. Longitudinal furrow of penisvalva only apically covered by folded lateral margins (Fig. 18) … 9
- Longitudinal furrow of penisvalva covered over most of its length by folded lateral margins (Fig. 22) … 10
9. The folded margins the penisvalva short and narrow. Abdominal sternum IX bulging distally … Atta robusta Borgm.
- The folded margins of the penisvalva wider and longer. Abdominal sternum IX truncate distally … Atta laevigata F. Sm
10. Penisvalvae wide in dorsal view, with the base strongly diverging; folded sides of the penisvalvar furrow entire (Fig. 21) … Atta vollenweideri Forel
- Penisvalvae narrower and longer, the base less divergent; folded sides of the penisvalvar furrow emarginate medially … 11
11. Folded penisvalvar margins short and narrow; emargination shallow (Fig. 20) … Atta opaciceps Borgm.
- Folded penisvalvar margins long; emargination strong, pointed (Figure 22) … Atta capiguara Gonçalves
12. Telomere, seen from above, very wide (subapical half as wide as long), apex diagonally truncate (Fig. 15) … Atta goiana Gonçalves
- Telomere narrow, apically pointed ... 13
13 Telomere as long as the volsella; dorsal apicolateral digitate processes of penisvalva short (Fig. 24) … Atta bisphaerica Forel
- Telomere much shorter than the volsella; apicodorsal lateral digitate processes of penisvalva wider and longer (Fig. 26) … Atta saltensis Forel


Borgmeier, T. 1959b. Revision der Gattung Atta Fabricius (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Studia Entomologica (n.s.)2:321-390.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Atta   Emery, C., 1913, Études sur les Myrmicinae., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique 57, pp. 250-262: 255-261, (download) 255-261 3860
Atta   Jerdon, T. C., 1851, A catalogue of the species of ants found in southern India., Madras Journal of Literature and Science 17, pp. 103-127: 105, (download) 105 4764
Atta   Jerdon, T. C., 1851, A catalogue of the species of ants found in southern India., Madras Journal of Literature and Science 17, pp. 103-127: 104, (download) 104 4764
Atta   Borgmeier, T., 1939, Nova contribuição para o conhecimento das formigas neotropicais (Hym. Formicidae)., Revista de Entomologia, São Paulo 10, pp. 403-428: 422-423, (download) 422-423 6484
Atta   Smith, F., 1858, Catalogue of the hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae., London: British Museum: 161, (download) 161 8127

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