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Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil (type locality). In Costa Rica: Atlantic lowlands.
Brown and Wilson (1959) summarize the genus as follows:
"Widespread in tropics and warm temperate areas. Primarily forest-dwelling; some species occur in grassland and arid scrub. ... Nests mostly in soil and rotting wood; a few species live in arboreal plant cavities in tropical rain forest. Foraging hypogaeic to epigaeic-arboreal. Food: most species are collembolan feeders; a few are polyphagous predators or occasionally feed on sugary substances..."
Members of the genus are all predaceous, with a kinetic mode of attack (Bolton 1999).
cosmostela occurs in lowland wet forest, in leaf litter/soil on the forest floor. At La Selva Biological Station it is an infrequent species in Winkler and Berlese samples.
Bolton, B. 1999. Ant genera of the tribe Dacetonini (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Nat. Hist. 33:1639-1689.
Bolton, B. 2000. The ant tribe Dacetini, with a revision of the Strumigenys species of the Malagasy Region by Brian L. Fisher, and a revision of the Austral epopostrumiform genera by Steven O. Shattuck. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 65:1-1028.
Brown, W. L., Jr., Wilson, E. O. 1959. The evolution of the dacetine ants. Quarterly Review of Biology 34:278-294.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 45 times found in mature wet forest, 7 times found in tropical rainforest, 8 times found in montane wet forest, 5 times found in ridgetop cloud forest, 7 times found in ridgetop cloud forest, isolated peak with oak trees, 5 times found in lowland rainforest, 0 times found in Amazon, 3 times found in tropical wet forest, 3 times found in 2º lowland rainforest, 1 times found in cloud forest, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 81 times ex sifted leaf litter, 1 times Hojarasca, 1 times ALAS Berlese sample.
Collected most commonly using these methods: 62 times MiniWinkler, 18 times MaxiWinkler, 5 times Mini Winkler, 2 times Berlese, 1 times Winkler, 1 times litter sample.
Elevations: collected from 30 - 1140 meters, 433 meters average
Type specimens: Paratype: antweb1032496