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Species: Myrmelachista plebecula   Menozzi, 1927 

Classification:
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See Also:

Myrmelachista plebecula_cf

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2017)

Myrmelachista plebecula Menozzi, 1927d PDF: 338 (w.) COSTA RICA. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Distribution:


Neotropical Region: Alajuela, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guanacaste, Guatemala, Guayas, Heredia, Petén, Puntarenas, San José, Suchitepéquez

Distribution Notes:

Costa Rica. In Costa Rica it occurs throughout the country, from sea level to 1400m elevation cloud forest.

Biology:

Natural History:

This species occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from moist to wet forest, lowlands to mid-montane elevations, weedy roadside vegetation, second growth forest, or mature forest. It is nearly always in highly insolated areas, being relatively common near ground level in scrubby vegetation but restricted to the high canopy in mature forest.

Nests are in narrow galleries in dead or live stems of a variety of plant species. The dead stems are usually narrow gauge, hard, and woody, not fibrous. Colonies may be polydomous, occupying multiple dead or live stems in a tree or shrub. I have found colonies nesting in live stems of Cordia alliodora, Cecropia obtusifolia, Callophylum brasiliense, Sloanea, and Ficus. It is unknown whether workers do any excavation of galleries on their own or just occupy preexisting chambers in myrmecophytes or chambers left by stem-boring insects.

Workers can be observed foraging on exposed stem and trunk surfaces in full sun, often moving in files. Pseudococcidae may occur in nest chambers in live stems.

Alate queens may be in nests at any time of year. Alate queens have been collected in Malaise traps and one was collected at a blacklight sheet.

References:

Longino, J. T. (2006). A Taxonomic review of the genus Myrmelachista (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica. Zootaxa 1141:1-54.

Menozzi, C. (1927). Formiche raccolte dal Sig. H. Schmidt nei dintorni di San JosŽ di Costa Rica (Schluss). Entomologische Mitteilungen 16, 336Ð345.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Treatment Citation: Longino, J. T., 2006, A taxonomic review of the genus Myrmelachista (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica., Zootaxa 1141, pp. 1-54

Myrmelachista plebecula MenozziHNS

Figures 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14

Myrmelachista plebecula MenozziHNS 1927:338. Syntype workers: Costa Rica, San José (Schmidt) [DEIC] (examined).

Myrmelachista costaricensis WheelerHNS 1934:196. Syntype workers, males: Costa Rica, Alajuela, 28 Nov 1911 (Wheeler), in TillandsiaHNS [MCZC] (examined). NEW SYNONYM .

Diagnosis

Worker and queen with 9 antennal segments; maxillary palpus of worker 5-segmented; queen mandible and clypeus largely smooth and shining; queen HL 0.67-0.82mm, CI 85-90; queen often sharply bicolored, with red orange head and mesosoma, dark gaster (occasionally uniform dark red brown); worker HW up to 0.6mm; worker in full face view with pilosity on side of head fully appressed, with no projecting setae or erect pubescence; basiparamere of male with very short, subtriangular lobe, or lobe absent; paramere elongate and linear, with parallel sides; cuspis completely absent; digitus elongate, curving, scimitar-shaped.

Worker

Antenna 9-segmented; maxillary palpus 5-segmented (may be 6-segmented in very large workers); mandible, clypeus, and face smooth and shining (mandible may be weakly striate in very large workers); in full face view, side and rear margins of head with very sparse, very short, fully appressed to subdecumbent pubescence, no projecting erect setae; ventral surface of head with very sparse, very short subdecumbent pubescence, no erect setae; hind tibia usually with sparse, appressed pilosity, occasionally more abundant and subdecumbent, pilosity short, about 1/4 width of tibia; typically bicolored, with orange red head and mesosoma, dark brown gaster, but in montane wet forest areas may be completely dark red brown.

Measurements: HL 0.432-0.539, HW 0.418-0.512, SL 0.225-0.281, EL 0.102-0.119, CI 92-97 (n=5).

Queen (previously unknown)

Antenna 9-segmented; maxillary palpus 5 or 6-segmented, with varying degrees of fusion of terminal two palpomeres; mandible and clypeus largely smooth and shining with sparse small piligerous puncta; face entirely smooth and shining; face, sides of head, and ventral surface of head with sparse short appressed to subdecumbent pubescence, longer erect setae sparse, 6-8 across posterior margin of vertex, a pair at about mid-face, about 5 on clypeus; hind tibia usually with sparse, appressed pilosity, occasionally more abundant and subdecumbent, pilosity short, about 1/4 width of tibia; coloration often bicolored, with light red orange head and mesosoma, contrasting dark brown gaster; grading to forms with uniform red brown coloration.

Measurements: HL 0.674-0.815, HW 0.601-0.696, SL 0.330-0.385, EL 0.197-0.227, OW 0.032-0.056, OD 0.127-0.166, CI 85-90, OI 32-35, OcI 4-7 (n=9).

Male

Antenna 10-segmented; maxillary palpus 6-segmented; pygostyles minute, in the form of weakly sclerotized papillae without setae; basiparamere with very short, subtriangular lobe or lobe completely absent; paramere elongate and linear, with parallel sides; cuspis completely absent; digitus elongate, curving, scimitar-shaped; apodeme of penial valve curving into dorsal margin at obtuse angle.

Comments

Workers of plebeculaHNS and joyceiHNS cannot always be distinguished.

Range

Costa Rica, Ecuador. In Costa Rica it occurs throughout the country, from sea level to 1400m elevation cloud forest.

Biology

This species occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from moist to wet forest, lowlands to mid-montane elevations, weedy roadside vegetation, second growth forest, or mature forest. It is nearly always in highly insolated areas, being relatively common near ground level in scrubby vegetation but restricted to the high canopy in mature forest.

Nests are in narrow galleries in dead or live stems of a variety of plant species. The dead stems are usually narrow gauge, hard, and woody, not fibrous. Colonies may be polydomous, occupying multiple dead or live stems in a tree or shrub. I have found colonies nesting in live stems of Cordia alliodora, Cecropia obtusifolia, Callophylum brasiliense, Sloanea, and Ficus. It is unknown whether workers do any excavation of galleries on their own or just occupy preexisting chambers in myrmecophytes or chambers left by stem-boring insects.

Workers can be observed foraging on exposed stem and trunk surfaces in full sun, often moving in files. Pseudococcidae may occur in nest chambers in live stems (pers. obs.).

Alate queens may be in nests at any time of year. Alate queens have been collected in Malaise traps and one was collected at a blacklight sheet.

Material Examined

COSTA RICA, province unknown: no specific locality (San Francisco Quarantine) [USNM]; Alajuela: Alajuela GoogleMaps, 10°01’N, 84°13’W, 1100m GoogleMaps (W. M. Wheeler) [USNM, syntypes costaricensisHNS] GoogleMaps; Refugio Eladio, Rio Penas Blancas GoogleMaps, 10°19’N, 84°43’W, 800m GoogleMaps (J. Longino, 2 collections) GoogleMaps; Refugio El Aleman, Rio Penas Blancas GoogleMaps, 10°18’N, 84°45’W, 940m GoogleMaps (J. Longino) GoogleMaps; Guanacaste: Estacion Maritza, Guanacaste Conservation Area GoogleMaps, 10°58’N, 85°30’W, 600m GoogleMaps (J. Longino) GoogleMaps; Cerro Cacao GoogleMaps, 10°56’N, 85°28’W, 1100m GoogleMaps (J. Longino) GoogleMaps; Estacion Cacao GoogleMaps, 10°55’N, 85°30’W, 1100m GoogleMaps (J. S. Noyes) GoogleMaps; Heredia: Rara Avis, 17km S Pto. Viejo GoogleMaps, 10°18’N, 84°03’W, 700m GoogleMaps (J. Longino) GoogleMaps; 10km SE La Virgen GoogleMaps, 10°20’N, 84°05’W, 500m GoogleMaps (J. Longino) GoogleMaps; La Selva Biological Station GoogleMaps, 10°26’N, 84°01’W, 50m GoogleMaps (ALAS, 2 collections) GoogleMaps; 16km SSE La Virgen GoogleMaps, 10°16’N, 84°05’W, 1100m GoogleMaps (ALAS, D. Brenes, J. Longino, multiple collections) GoogleMaps; Limón: Hamburg Farm GoogleMaps, 10°15’N, 83°27’W, 50m GoogleMaps (F. Nevermann) [USNM] GoogleMaps; Puntarenas: Sirena, Corcovado National Park GoogleMaps, 8°29’N, 83°36’W, 50m GoogleMaps (J. Longino, 2 collections) GoogleMaps; Monteverde GoogleMaps, 10°18’N, 84°48’W, 1400m GoogleMaps (J. Longino, 2 collections) GoogleMaps; Guacimal, rd to Monteverde GoogleMaps, 10°14’N, 84°51’W, 500m GoogleMaps (J. Longino, 2 collections) GoogleMaps; Guaria, rd to Monteverde GoogleMaps, 10°15’N, 84°50’W, 700m GoogleMaps (J. Longino) GoogleMaps; Ojo de Agua, rd to Monteverde GoogleMaps, 10°16’N, 84°50’W, 800m GoogleMaps (J. Longino, 2 collections) GoogleMaps; 5km SW Las Alturas GoogleMaps, 8°55’N, 82°52’W, 1240m GoogleMaps (J. Longino, 2 collections) GoogleMaps; same data (P. S. Ward) GoogleMaps; San José: San Jose GoogleMaps, 9°56’N, 84°05’W (H. Schmidt) [MCSN, syntypes plebeculaHNS] GoogleMaps; Carrillo, Braulio Carrillo Nat. Park GoogleMaps, 10°09’N, 083°55’W, 500m GoogleMaps (J. Longino) GoogleMaps; ECUADOR, Guayas: Cerro Blanco, 15km W Guayaquil GoogleMaps, 2°10’S, 80°02’W, 400m GoogleMaps (P. S. Ward) GoogleMaps.

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 32 times found in montane wet forest, 4 times found in wet forest, 2 times found in tropical moist forest, 1 times found in montane rainforest, 1 times found in wet forest treefall gap, 2 times found in montane wet forest, 1-day old treefall, 1 times found in roadside veg., 1 times found in mature rainforest, edge of forest near pasture and agricultural land, steep rocky terrain, 2 times found in moist forest edge, 2 times found in cloud forest, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times ex dead branch, treefall, 1 times ex live stem Sloanea, 2 times ex live stem Ficus, 1 times ex dead twig, 1 times ex Cordia alliodora, 1 times under epiphytes, 1 times Roadside veg., extended colony in many dead sticks in a tree., 1 times Pasture with recently felled trees. Nest in live branch of felled Calophyllum tr, 1 times Nesting in two internodes of Cecropia "obtusifolia" branch [mixture of C. obtusi, 1 times Fresh treefall in primary forest. Strays., 1 times beating veg., ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 23 times Malaise, 11 times search, 7 times Foggin, 2 times beating, 2 times Sweeping, 1 times Fogging, 1 times Malaise trap, 1 times Nest in twig in living tree, 1 times Pan Trap, 1 times sweep net, 1 times Blacklight, ...

Elevations: collected from 10 - 1600 meters, 839 meters average

Type specimens: syntype Myrmelachista costaricensis: jtlc000005276, jtlc000005277; syntypes costaricensis: jtl073545; Syntypes plebecula: jtl056004; type of Myrmelachista plebecula: focol0151, focol0152-1, focol0152-2, focol0153-1



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