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Species: Pachycondyla harpax   (Fabricius, 1804) 

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See Also:

Pachycondyla harpax_cf, Pachycondyla harpax concinna, Pachycondyla harpax dibullana, Pachycondyla harpax irina, Pachycondyla harpax montezumia

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2015)

Formica harpax Fabricius, 1804 PDF: 401 (w.) SOUTH AMERICA. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Wheeler, 1900b PDF: 4, 17 (q.m.l.); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1952c PDF: 618 (l.).
Combination in Pachycondyla: Roger, 1863b: 18.
Senior synonym of Pachycondyla concinna, Pachycondyla dibullana, Pachycondyla irina, Pachycondyla montezumia (and its junior synonyms Neoponera amplinoda, Pachycondyla orizabana): Brown, 1950e PDF}: 247.
See also: MacKay & MacKay, 2010 PDF: 374.


Widespread in mainland Neotropics, from southern USA (Louisiana) to northern Argentina; also in Jamaica. Costa Rica: widespread in lowland forest, sea level to about 500m elevation, wet and dry forest habitats.


Natural History:

This species is one of the most common Pachycondyla species in Costa Rica. Foragers are common on the ground, never arboreal, and relatively more abundant at night. They occur in most samples of sifted leaf litter (Winkler samples), and I collected them once at a tuna bait. In Corcovado, I once observed a mid-morning mating swarm inside an insectary.

I have never found a nest of this common species. The nest must be subterranean. If they nested in the leaf litter or in dead wood, nests would be more frequently encountered.

Garcia-P. et al. (1997) observed harpax preying on termites (Gnathamitermes tubiformans) in the wild.

When pursued with forceps, workers release a stream of clear viscous secretion from the top of the abdomen (Overal 1987). Overal suggests these are defensive secretions employed in tunnels, where room is lacking in which to wield the sting.


Brown, W. L., Jr. 1950. Morphological, taxonomic, and other notes on ants. Wasmann J. Biol. 8(2):241-250.

Fabricius, J. C. 1804. Systema Piezatorum secundum ordines, genera, species, adjectis synonymis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus. Brunswick: C. Reichard, xiv + 15-439 + 30pp. Ants - p. 395-428.

Garcia P., J. A., A. Blanco P., R. Mercado H., and M. Badii 1997. The predatory behavior of Pachycondyla harpax Fabr. on Gnathamitermes tubiformans Buckley in captivity conditions. Southwestern Entomologist 22:345-353 [Spanish].

Overal, W. L. 1987. Defensive chemical weaponry in the ant Pachycondyla harpax (Formicidae, Ponerinae). Journal of Entomological Science 22:268-269.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Pachycondyla harpax   Forel, A., 1911, Ameisen des Herrn Prof. v. Ihering aus Brasilien (Sao Paulo usw.) nebst einigen anderen aus Südamerika und Afrika (Hym.)., Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 1911, pp. 285-312: 285, (download) 285 4029
Pachycondyla harpax   Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 39, (download) 39 21367
Pachycondyla harpax   Brown, W. L., 1950, Morphological, taxonomic and other notes on ants., Wasmann Journal of Biology 8, pp. 241-250: 247, (download) 247 2360
Pachycondyla harpax   Forel, A., 1905, Miscellanea myrmicologiques, II (1905)., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique 49, pp. 155-185: 156, (download) 156 4001

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 382 times found in mature wet forest, 169 times found in tropical moist forest, 152 times found in tropical rainforest, 120 times found in tropical wet forest, 106 times found in 2┬║ lowland rainforest, 106 times found in lowland wet forest, 103 times found in montane wet forest, 77 times found in 2┬║ wet forest, 51 times found in lowland rainforest, 50 times found in mesophil forest, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods or in the following microhabitats: 677 times MiniWinkler, 504 times Baiting, 92 times Winkler, 126 times MaxiWinkler, 67 times Mini Winkler, 30 times Malaise, 30 times Search, 25 times Berlese, 8 times hand collecting, 7 times Pitfall, 0 times Under rock, ...

Elevations: collected from 5 - 1770 meters, 327 meters average

Type specimens: Lectotype of Pachycondyla harpax dibullana: casent0907250; syntype of Pachycondyla montezumia: casent0902516

(-1 examples)

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