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Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama. Costa Rica: widespread.
Azteca sericeasur occurs in moist to wet forest habitats. Queens establish in live stems of understory trees, near the base. Mature colonies are polydomous and dispersed. Foraging columns extend across low vegetation and on the forest floor, connecting multiple small pavilions made of carton (paper-like material constructed by the ants from masticated plant fibers). Clusters of workers and brood occur in the pavilions, and the pavilions may cover membracids and pink scale insects, which the ants tend. Thus the queen is located in a permanent and well-protected site, while the colony is widely spread in a large number of small ephemeral nests.
Along the R’o San Luis near Monteverde, I found workers coming and going from a fissure at the base of a live Xanthoxylem (Rutaceae) at a pasture edge. A colony of Camponotus novogranadensis was using the same entrance, in an apparent case of parabiosis. I have several observations of colonies from the Osa Peninsula. One colony was spread over an area of several square meters, in the dead, hollow core of a live Chimarrhis parviflora (Rubiaceae), in nearby dead sticks, and filling hollow stems of an adjacent Tetrathylacium costaricensis plant (Flacourtiaceae). The Tetrathylacium contained workers, small brood, and mealybugs, but no sexuals or large brood. Small carton nests covered some of the stems and nest entrances. The dead core of the Chimarrhis contained a small pocket of carton, in which I found the grossly distended colony queen and abundant small brood. In another case I found workers streaming through low vegetation. A nest was in a small sapling; the lowest part of the nest was 4m above the ground. There were numerous small cavities and knotholes in the trunk; these were all filled with workers and brood. The lowermost knothole was covered with a carton nest, and the bulk of the workers were in the carton portion. I looked in the carton and in all the knotholes, but I never found a queen. Leanne Tennant, in her study of Tetrathylacium costaricensis in Corcovado, found at least two of her study plants inhabited by A. sericeasur. Males may be produced in large numbers in the small satellite nests. In August, 1982, I observed a series of carton shelters on vine stems at the base of a buttressed tree, and they were packed with hundreds of adult males. Alate queens are few in collections; two were collected in October and one in July. Nest series with alate queens have been taken twice, both in July. I collected a founding queen in the internode of a Cecropia sapling at Estacion Pitilla in the Guanacaste Conservation Area, and Joel Dunn found an incipient colony in a Cordia bicolor plant near Monteverde.
The queens are generally setose ants, with abundant fine flexuous setae on most body parts. An exception was the queen from the Chimarrhis plant described above. This queen was almost completely devoid of erect setae anywhere on the body, including the tibiae, and the pubescence was sparse and patchy. When collecting from this colony, it took me more than an hour to locate the colony center, chop into the Chimarrhis tree, and extract the physogastric queen. This is probably the oldest queen I have examined, the others being alates or foundresses in incipient colonies (and thus more easy to locate and collect). It may be that once queens establish and become sedentary in the middle of a large colony, they gradually become depilated, perhaps through constant grooming by workers.
This species is very similar to A. sericea, differing in the presence of erect setae on the posterior margin of the head. Azteca sericea is known from Mexico and Guatemala, where it is associated with myrmecophytic orchids.
|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 sericeasur||new species||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: 46-48, (download)||46-48||21311||GoogleMaps|
Found most commonly in these habitats: 7 times found in SSO 200m, 4 times found in coffee agroforest, 5 times found in lowland rainforest, 1 times found in Llorona, 1 times found in montane wet forest, 1 times found in rainforest, 1 times found in second growth vegetation, 1 times found in cacao plantation, 1 times found in coffee farm.
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: inside dead, hol times Wet forest. Workers were spread over an area of several meters, 1 times wet forest, 2 times in carton nest, 2 times Wet forest. Ex sifted leaf litter., 1 times in carton nest, colony 3, 2 times ex live stems Tetrathylacium costaricensis, 1 times Wet forest. Strays. Azteca queen in Cecropia internode., 1 times on tree trunk, 1 times on low vegetation, 1 times Moist forest along trail to river. Recent treefall. Aggregation of workers under, 1 times in carton nest, colony 4, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 7 times Fogging, 9 times search, 2 times Winkler, 2 times Malaise, 1 times Malaise trap.
Elevations: collected from 5 - 1400 meters, 199 meters average
Type specimens: Holotype Azteca sericeasur: jtlc000005642; Paratype Azteca sericeasur: casent0260166, casent0260167, jtlc000005643, jtlc000009405, jtlc000009412, jtlc000009413, jtlc000009414, jtlc000009415, jtlc000009416