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Central Mexico to northern Argentina. Costa Rica: widespread.
The taxonomy and biology of A. alfari are reviewed in Longino (1989a, 1991b). Also see review of Azteca-Cecropia ant-plant relationship.
Azteca alfari is an obligate Cecropia ant. It is the most widespread of the Cecropia ants, extending into the subtropics at both ends of its range. Throughout the range it is the Cecropia ant most likely to be found in open or highly disturbed areas. Founding queens are frequent in Cecropia saplings. As trees grow and form multiple branches, the nests become polydomous. Workers and brood are dispersed in branch tips, and the bole and inner portions of branches are progressively abandoned (Longino 1991a). Workers vary in aggressiveness geographically and over time. Workers in young colonies are usually aggressive, but in many cases workers in mature colonies are less aggressive, retreating inside of stems on disturbance (Longino 1991a). Only when a branch is broken open will workers rush out to attack. Trees occupied by alfari often appear somewhat decrepid, with abundant leaf damage and frequently burdened with vines. The foliage of these trees hosts a diverse insect fauna, including foraging ants of other species.
Harada (1989) has described the colony structure of young colonies of alfari. Harada's study did not distinguish between alfari and ovaticeps.
The alfari group, containing alfari and ovaticeps, is a lineage that has colonized Cecropia trees independently of other obligate Cecropia ants (Ayala et al. 1996).
|Azteca||Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 8-10, (download)||8-10||21311|
|Azteca alfari||Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 15-19, (download)||15-19||21311|
|Azteca alfari||Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 24, (download)||24||21367|
|Azteca alfari||Forel, A., 1899, Biologia Centrali-Americana; or, contributions to the knowledge of the fauna and flora of Mexico and Central America. Insecta. Hymenoptera. 3 (Formicidae)., London: Unknown Publisher: 112, (download)||112||8170|
Found most commonly in these habitats: 33 times found in cerrado, 12 times found in wet forest, 9 times found in Roadside vegetation, 4 times found in second growth veg., 6 times found in dry forest, 3 times found in rainforest, 6 times found in restinga, 5 times found in roadside edge, 5 times found in tropical semideciduous forest, 2 times found in mixed tropical/temperate mesic forest, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 40 times ex Cecropia, 39 times ex Cecropia pachystachya, 9 times ex Cecropia sapling, 12 times Dry forest remnant along river. #2676-#2690 are from branch samples from Cecropi, 5 times ex Cecropia obtusifolia, 5 times ex Cecropia peltata, 8 times in Cecropia peltata, 6 times in Cecropia sapling, 5 times in Cecropia peltata sapling, 1 times ex Cecropia insignis sapling, 3 times in Cecropia tree, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 93 times search, 3 times direct collection, 2 times Malaise, 1 times Beating, 1 times light traps.
Elevations: collected from 5 - 1310 meters, 386 meters average
Type specimens: Lectotype of Azteca alfari: casent0905089; Lectotype of Azteca alfari curtiscapa: casent0909586; Lectotype of Azteca alfari mixta: casent0909592; Lectotype of Azteca alfari cecropiae: casent0909593; Lectotype of Azteca alfaroi lucidula: casent0909594; Lectotype of Azteca bicolor: casent0905095; syntype of Azteca virens: casent0909711; syntype of Azteca alfari argentina: casent0909585; syntype of Azteca alfari fumaticeps: casent0909587; syntype of Azteca alfari lucidula zonalis: casent0911459; syntype of Azteca foreli breviscapa: casent0909631; syntype of Azteca forelii breviscapa: casent0903002; syntype of Azteca virens: casent0903003; type of Azteca alfaroi var. fumaticeps: focol0537