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Species: Azteca schimperi   Emery, 1893 

Download Data

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2019)

Azteca schimperi Emery, 1893l: 140, pl. 2, figs. 43-46 (s.w.) COSTA RICA. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Forel, 1908 PDF: 387 (q.m.).
Senior synonym of Azteca clariceps, Azteca fiebrigi, Azteca pallidula: Longino, 2007 PDF: 58.


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):

Distribution Notes:

Mexico to Argentina. Costa Rica: widespread.


Natural History:

This species makes large external carton nests. I have observed four nests, three in Costa Rica and one in Panama, and all have been in Cecropia trees (C. peltata, C. obtusifolia, and C. longipes). Benson (1985) also observed A. schimperi in Cecropia trees. However Forel (1908b), describing the queen and male from a collection from Bahia, Brazil, explicitly stated that the carton nest was perched on the branches of a tree that was not Cecropia.

The three nests I have seen in Costa Rica were all at the edges of roads in highly human altered landscapes (pasture edges, coffee farms) in seasonally dry areas. The globular carton nests are very conspicuous on the highly visible branches of Cecropia trees, and in my studies of Cecropia in Costa Rica I always looked for them. Yet I have only seen these three over many years of work in Costa Rica. I have never been able to examine a nest closely, but I have been able to observe the base of the trees in which they occurred. In one case workers were foraging not only on the base of the tree but also on surrounding low vegetation. In another case, on a tree with stump sprouts at the base, workers were swarming over the sprouts but not actually entering the internodes. These observations contrast with typical Cecropia ants, which never forage off the host plant and usually enter and occupy any sprouts at the base of the tree. Thus A. schimperi seems to occupy Cecropia trees more "lightly" than the dominant obligate Cecropia ants.

Azteca schimperi could be a temporary social parasite of Cecropia ants, usurping an existing Azteca colony as a means of establishing its own. Such a scenario might explain the somewhat less specialized use of Cecropia by A. schimperi; it may be a specialist on Cecropia ants rather than Cecropia trees.


Azteca schimperi has a very broad range, vying with A. alfari for the Azteca species with the largest range. It is a relatively distinctive species with little discernable variation over the range; specimens from Argentina and Paraguay look very like specimens from Central America and Mexico.

See additional discussion of A. aurita group.

Literature Cited

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
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 schimperi   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: 110, (download) 110 8170
Azteca schimperi   Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 24, (download) 24 21367
Azteca schimperi   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: 58-60, (download) 58-60 21311 GoogleMaps

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 2 times found in roadside veg., 1 times found in rainforest edge, 1 times found in edge of rainforest, 1 times found in seasonal dry veg., roadside, 1 times found in Wooded ravine, 1 times found in dry forest, roadside veg., 1 times found in montane rainforest.

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 2 times nest in Cecropia, 1 times lab clearing; globular carton nest in Cecropia longipes, 1 times PanAmerican highway, 2.2km E intersection of road to Naranjo, on S side of road;, 1 times in carton nest in Cecropia concolor, 1 times ex carton nest on Cecropia, 1 times tending coccidae, 1 times on low vegetation, 1 times carton nest in Cecropia tree, 1 times carton nest in Cecropia peltata.

Collected most commonly using these methods: 4 times search, 1 times hand collecting.

Elevations: collected from 100 - 1300 meters, 536 meters average

Type specimens: syntype Azteca schimperi: jtl073594; syntype of Azteca schimperi: casent0905093; syntype of Azteca fiebrigi: casent0909626, casent0909627; syntype of Azteca lanuginosa clariceps: casent0911462; type of Azteca muelleri var. pallida: focol2847, focol2848

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