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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.
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.
|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|
Found most commonly in these habitats: 393 times found in mature wet forest, 213 times found in tropical rainforest, 169 times found in tropical moist forest, 120 times found in tropical wet forest, 106 times found in 2º lowland rainforest, 106 times found in lowland wet forest, 104 times found in montane wet forest, 77 times found in 2º wet forest, 59 times found in lowland rainforest, 50 times found in mesophil forest, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 978 times Ex sifted leaf litter, 551 times at bait, 80 times Hojarasca, 27 times sifted litter, 9 times STR, 7 times ex sifted litter, 5 times under stone, 6 times under rock, 4 times Claro, 2 times ground foragers, 4 times Sura, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 772 times MiniWinkler, 550 times Baiting, 107 times Winkler, 145 times MaxiWinkler, 67 times Mini Winkler, 34 times Search, 30 times Malaise, 27 times Berlese, 22 times epigaeic pitfall, 15 times direct collection, 10 times hand collecting, ...
Elevations: collected from 5 - 2600 meters, 334 meters average