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Costa Rica, Panama. Costa Rica: known from mid to upper elevation sites from Cordillera de Guanacaste to Cordillera Volcanica Central; also known from Bocas del Toro region of Panama, so probably continuous in montane sites throughout the country.
This species is a dramatically large ant which I occasionally see as individual workers on roads and trails. I have one nest observation from Cerro Cacao in the Guanacaste Conservation Area:
At the bottom of the forest patch below the station, along the trail back to Quebrada Grande, I observed a nest in the steep bank of the trail. A purpurascens worker captured a Gnamptogenys worker from a nest I was excavating. The purpurascens worker moved irregularly back and forth at first, but then went to a simple circular hole in the bank. I followed the hole, excavating horizontally into the bank, until I was a full arm's length plus trowel length into the bank. At this point I began scooping out a few workers at a time. I obtained about 16 workers this way, but then had to stop.
Pachycondyla purpurascens Forel 1899:12. Syntype worker: Costa Rica, Cache [MHNG] (examined). Proposed revised status.
Pachycondyla fuscoatra subsp. purpurascens Forel: Emery 1901:48.
Pachycondyla impressa (Roger) (part): Kempf (1961), Bolton (1995).
Emery (1901, 1911) considered transversa and purpurascens to be distinct species in Costa Rica. Kempf (1961) synonymized transversa under impressa, but his treatment of purpurascens was ambiguous. He placed it in the list of synonymy beneath impressa, but he listed it as "? Pachycondyla purpurascens," and did not follow it with "NOV. SYN." Other names in the list were followed by "NOV. SYN." In his discussion of synonyms, he stated that he exempted purpurascens from formal synonymy because of its larger than normal size, and that further study was warranted. He did not examine any material of purpurascens, relying on published records. Bolton (1995) listed purpurascens as a synonym of impressa, attributing the synonymy to Kempf (1961). I follow Emery in considering purpurascens a distinct species, and propose a revived status to full and valid species.
Bolton, B. 1995. A New General Catalogue of the Ants of the World. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Emery, C. 1901. Notes sur les sous-familles des Dorylines et Ponerines (Famille des Formicides). Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique 45:32-54.
Emery, C. 1911. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Ponerinae. Genera Insectorum 1181-125.
Forel, A. 1899. Formicidae. Biologia-Centrali Americana 3:1-169.
Kempf, W. W. 1961. As formigas do genero Pachycondyla Fr. Smith no Brasil (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Revta Bras. Entomol. 10:189-204.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 81 times found in mesophyll forest, 15 times found in wet forest, 8 times found in mesophil forest, 3 times found in cloud forest, primary, along steep ridge near peak, 3 times found in cloud forest, primary, near ridgetop, 2 times found in mature cloud forest, 2 times found in tropical wet forest, 1 times found in Cacao, 1 times found in cloud forest, 1 times found in cloud forest litter, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 79 times at bait, 15 times pan trap, 15 times ex sifted leaf litter, 2 times Strays., 2 times forager, 1 times on low vegn., 1 times on dead wood, 1 times moist forest, 1 times leaf litter, strays on road. pachycondyla impre times ca.1480m, road to San Luis near Guindons'. 1, 1 times beating vegetation, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 80 times Baiting, 15 times Pan Trap, 10 times MiniWinkler, 6 times search, 4 times MaxiWinkler, 1 times Beating, 1 times hand collecting, 1 times Winkler.
Elevations: collected from 35 - 1689 meters, 1178 meters average
Type specimens: Lectotype of Pachycondyla purpurascens: casent0907248; syntype of Pachycondyla purpurascens: casent0902515; syntype purpurascens: jtl056030; syntypes transversa: jtl007996; type purpurascens: jtl008000