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Costa Rica, Guatemala. Costa Rica: Central and northern cordilleras.
All collections of A. longiceps for which there are biological data are from live stems of Triplaris melaenodendron. Some collections are from mature colonies, and others are founding queens from stump sprouts. Extensive collections in areas where A. longiceps occurs have not revealed it using any other plant species, and so longiceps is presumed to be a host specialist in T. melaenodendron (Longino 1996).
The following observations, derived from field notes, describe the nesting habits of A. longiceps:
5 July 1991, Longino #2956: I climbed a Triplaris tree and cut out 3 small branches that all contained parts of a colony. No workers appeared as I climbed the tree, nor after I cut branches. A few workers emerged from cut branch bases. Only as I began to split stems did large numbers of workers swarm out. Abundant Homoptera were inside stems, and a few males and a few alate queens. There was abundant worker brood throughout.
I examined a 24cm long section in detail. The internodes contained "knollen," discrete mounds of sticky bran-like material filled with nematodes, tiny dipteran larvae, and what appeared to be abundant stylets of Homoptera. (Knollen are also found in nests of Cecropia ants (Mueller 1880-1881, Longino 1991), and are probably common to many or all stem-nesting Azteca.) There were pink coccids in the occupied internodes: 5, 7, 32, 31, 8, 7, 4 coccids in the 7 occupied internodes. There was a single pseudococcid in these 7 internodes. Many of the exit holes were originally large enough to accommodate a queen, but had been reduced to worker size with resinous carton. Some of the internodal septa were perforated, others not. There were perforated partitions made of resinous carton, which formed artificial septa. Some were found in the middle of internodes, others were partially closing chewed-out internodal septa.
There was one unoccupied internode in the middle of the branch, with solid septa on both sides. The sclerenchyma was thicker on the occupied side than the unoccupied side of the septa, as though the sclerenchyma were a secondary response to ant presence. The walls of ant-occupied internodes were black. The walls of unoccupied internodes were covered with flaky red brown material. Inner diameters of occupied internodes were greater than inner diameters of unoccupied internodes, but the sclerenchyma layer was thicker in the former, again suggesting that the sclerenchyma layer was a response to the ants.The ant entrance holes were irregularly scattered, not in any predictable location. The terminal internodes, near the unoccupied apical shoot area, were the most recently entered.
5 July 1991, Longino #2972: I climbed a 4m tall Triplaris tree. It contained a populous colony, and workers emerged onto trunk when I climbed tree. The largest branch segments I examined from this tree were 3cm dia., and still contained hollow internodes with ants. A large basal section contained relatively few workers and scattered pseudococcids, with no coccids. Exit holes were still maintained through 1cm of wood. I dissected 180cm of occupied branch. There were abundant brood, workers, carton partitions, and exit holes, much like #2956. There were scattered alate queens, and at least one male. Unlike #2956, there was no trace of pink coccids, and pseudococcids were widespread and common.
5 July 1991, Longino #2969-s: I cut one branch from a Triplaris tree. The terminal 20-40cm, the leafy part, was unoccupied. Lower in the branch, 2 founding queens of longiceps and beltii occupied adjacent cavities. The cavities of the two queens formerly were continuous through a perforated septum, but a plug of particulate matter separated the two. The plug was asymmetrical, as though built from the beltii side.
|Azteca longiceps||Forel, A., 1899, Biologia Centrali-Americana; or, contributions to the knowledge of the fauna and flora of Mexico and Central America. Insecta. Hymenoptera. 3 (Formicidae)., London: Unknown Publisher: 119, (download)||119||8170|
|Azteca||Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 8-10, (download)||8-10||21311|
|Azteca longiceps||Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63: 37-38, (download)||37-38||21311||GoogleMaps|
Found most commonly in these habitats: 3 times found in roadside vegetation, 3 times found in riparian forest, 3 times found in 2nd growth moist forest/pasture edge, 1 times found in pasture/cloud forest edge.
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 6 times Ex Triplaris melaenodendron, 2 times in live stem Triplaris americana, 1 times Scrubby dry forest remnant along R’o Guacimal. Colony with alate queens dominati, 1 times on Triplaris americana, 1 times on ground/ vegetation.
Collected most commonly using these methods: 4 times search, 1 times hand collecting.
Elevations: collected from 100 - 1290 meters, 775 meters average