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Extant: 1 valid subspecies
Nicaragua to Peru (type locality), Bolivia, western Brazil. Costa Rica: Atlantic slope and montane areas.
This species occurs in mature wet forest throughout the Atlantic slope. Its highest density seems to be mid-elevation sites, but it can still be relatively abundant in the lowlands. At La Selva Biological Station it has a density similar to E. hamatum, with which it is often confused.
Raiding is always in columns, never in a carpet like E. burchellii. Raiding can be during the day or at night.
Eciton lucanoides was described by Emery (1894) based on a soldier from Peru. Weber (1949) described E. conquistador based on workers from Panama. Borgmeier (1955) made conquistador a subspecies of lucanoides. Kempf (1972) listed the range of lucanoides as Peru, Bolivia, Brazil (Rondonia and Acre), Colombia, and the range of l. conquistador as Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. The males of these forms are unknown. Eciton jansoni was described by Forel (1912) based on a male from Nicaragua, and Kempf (1972) gives the range as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador.
By a process of elimination and geographic correspondence in Costa Rica, E. jansoni has to be the male of lucanoides conquistador. The males of the other Eciton species are known. Eciton jansoni males are very common in primary forest areas of the Atlantic slope, which is where E. l. conquistador is also common. Morphologically, there is a slight boss on the inner margin of the male mandible, perhaps corresponding to the pronounced tooth in the same position on the soldier.
Thus, if E. l. conquistador is distinct from E. lucanoides sensu stricto, then the Costa Rican species should be called E. jansoni, with E. l. conquistador a junior synonym. If it is not, then both are junior synonyms of E. lucanoides. Is E. l. conquistador really different from E. lucanoides senso stricto?
Borgmeier (1955) stated (my translation) "Eciton conquistador (the name is tacky) I regard as a subspecies of lucanoides. The differences from lucanoides are the following: the soldier of conquistador differs by the smaller head, the broad tooth on the inside of the mandible, the longer scape, the longer funiculus, the more raised and approximated lateral carinae of the propodeum, and the narrower petiole and postpetiole. The worker differs in the longer scape, the more raised and approximated lateral carinae of the propodeum, the strong central keel on the posterior face of the propodeum, and the narrower petiole." (I enjoyed Borgmeier's little editorial comment on Weber's name.) The range of E. jansoni approximately covers the range of both E. l. conquistador and E. lucanoides senso stricto, which suggests either that there is no difference in the males that corresponds to the worker subspecies or the differences are subtle and have not been discovered. More work is needed on character variation across the range of this lineage.
I have chosen to refer to the Costa Rican material as E. lucanoides, with the possibility that it may later change to E. jansoni.
Borgmeier, T. 1955. Die Wanderameisen der neotropischen Region. Studia Entomologica 3:1-720.
Emery, C. 1894. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. VI-XVI. Bullettino della Societˆ Entomologica Italiana 26:137-241.
Forel, A. 1912. Formicides nŽotropiques. Part I. Annales de la SociŽtŽ Entomologique de Belgique 56:28-49.
Kempf, W. W. 1972. Cat‡logo abreviado das formigas da regi‹o Neotropical. Studia Entomologica 15:3-344.
Weber, N. A. 1949. A new Panama Eciton (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). American Museum Novitates 1441:1-8.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 11 times found in wet forest, 9 times found in montane wet forest, 3 times found in mature wet forest, 3 times found in cloud forest, primary, near ridgetop, 1 times found in 2nd growth wet forest, 2 times found in Arboleda, 1 times found in LOC, 2 times found in Arboleda., 2 times found in CCC 550m., 2 times found in STR 650m., ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 5 times ex sifted leaf litter, 2 times column on trail, 3 times column on ground, 2 times blacklight sample, 2 times Hojarasca, 2 times column on road, 1 times nocturnal, column on ground, 1 times column, 1 times Wet forest. Eciton column on trail before Los Gemelos streams., 1 times unknown, 1 times strays, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 12 times Blacklight, 12 times search, 9 times Lighttrap, 2 times Mercury Vapor Light, 4 times miniWinkler, 2 times Winkler, 1 times light trap, 2 times Sweeping, 1 times direct collection, 1 times Malaise, 1 times Mini Winkler, ...
Elevations: collected from 50 - 1175 meters, 696 meters average
Collect Date Range: collected between 1912-07-01 and 2020-02-15