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Species: Labidus praedator   (Smith, 1858) 

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Current Valid Name:

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2023)

Extant: 1 valid subspecies

Eciton praedator Smith, 1858a PDF: 152 (s.w.) BRAZIL (Amazonas). Neotropic. Primary type information: Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated). Type-locality: Brazil: Ega (= Tefé) (no collector’s name, perhaps H.W. Bates). Type-depository: BMNH AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Combination in Eciton (Labidus): Emery, 1910b PDF: 23; Bruch, 1914 PDF: 215.
Combintion in Labidus: Borgmeier, 1953 PDF: 16.
Status as species: Mayr, 1863a PDF: 409; Roger, 1863b PDF: 36; Mayr, 1865 PDF: 77 (in key); Mayr, 1886b PDF: 118; Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 5; Emery, 1894d PDF: 180; von Jhering, 1894 PDF: 381; Forel, 1895b PDF: 120; Forel, 1899b PDF: 26; Emery, 1900e: 193; Forel, 1906d PDF: 246; Emery, 1906c PDF: 108; Wheeler, 1907b PDF: 271; Forel, 1907h PDF: 2; Forel, 1908c PDF: 40; Forel, 1908 PDF: 346; Emery, 1910b PDF: 23; Forel, 1912d PDF: 43; Bruch, 1914 PDF: 215; Mann, 1916 PDF: 421; Santschi, 1916e PDF: 368; Luederwaldt, 1918 PDF: 54; Santschi, 1919f PDF: 39; Gallardo, 1920 PDF: 333; Santschi, 1920d PDF: 366; Bruch, 1921 PDF: 181; Wheeler, 1921d PDF: 310; Mann, 1922 PDF: 19; Borgmeier, 1923: 43; Wheeler, 1923a PDF: 2; Wheeler, 1925a PDF: 2; Santschi, 1930e PDF: 83; Santschi, 1931f PDF: 274; Menozzi, 1935b PDF: 189; Stitz, 1937b PDF: 132; Borgmeier, 1948b PDF: 460; Borgmeier, 1953 PDF: 10, 19; Borgmeier, 1955 PDF: 103 (redescription); Kempf, 1961b PDF: 485; Kempf, 1972b PDF: 127; Kempf & Lenko, 1976 PDF: 47; Watkins, 1976 PDF: 8 (in key); Watkins, 1982 PDF: 210 (in key); Bolton, 1995b: 220; Palacio, 1999: 153 (in key); Wild, 2007b PDF: 25; Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012 PDF: 254; Bezděčková et al., 2015 PDF: 110; Palacio, 2019 PDF: 607.
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Nearctic, Neotropical

Distribution Notes:

Mexico to Argentina. Type locality Brazil. Costa Rica: wet forest areas throughout.


Natural History:

This is a widespread and common species throughout the Neotropics. In Costa Rica it can be locally abundant, but seems to be somewhat patchy. I have not encountered it in dry forest areas, but it does occur in both lowland and montane wet forest. On the Barva transect in Braulio Carrillo National Park, it is a relatively rare ant at La Selva but reaches much higher density at 1000-1500m elevation.

Labidus praedator forms massive carpet raids that blanket the ground. In some ways they can be more impressive than Eciton burchellii, because the workers are smaller and more dense, and the ground and low vegetation become almost entirely black with a seething mass of workers. They seem to be mainly subterranean, without surface bivouacs. The large surface raids always seem to emerge spontaneously from the leaf litter or from a hole in the ground. Small segments of columns may be encountered, emerging from one hole and entering another one a few meters away.

I have rarely observed the prey of L. praedator, so I do not know what their dietary preferences are. In one raid I observed a mass of workers harvesting pieces from a fruit on the forest floor, so they may have somewhat generalized scavenging habits, like L. coecus. In cloud forest habitats I have sometimes seen masses of terrestrial isopods rushing up low vegetation and forming clusters on leaf tips in response to a Labidus swarm in the leaf litter below, but I do not know if the Labidus actually prey on the isopods.

Males are occasionally attracted to lights at night, and may also be collected in Malaise traps.


Borgmeier (1955) recognized two subspecies: praedator s. str. and praedator sedulus (Menozzi 1926). The type locality of praedator s. str. is Brazil, of sedulus Colombia. The male of praedator s. str. had the frons relatively flat and the mandibles acuminate; the male of sedulus had the frons more elevated and the tip of the mandible obliquely truncate and somewhat emarginate (Figure). The soldier of praedator s. str. had the rear margin of the head more or less flat, not deeply emarginate; the soldier of sedulus had the rear margin deeply emarginate. The material examined by Borgmeier showed overlapping or interdigitated ranges. He identified workers of praedator s. str. from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Guyana, throughout Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina; and males from Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. For sedulus, he identified workers from Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia; and males from Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Bolivia.

The males I have examined from Costa Rica have the emarginate mandibles of sedulus. The degree of emargination of the head of the soldier depends greatly on the size of the soldier, and I do not trust that character without a more quantitative assessment. Until variation is investigated more thoroughly, I prefer to refer to the Costa Rican material as praedator s. str. and to ignore sedulus until it is better defined.


Borgmeier, T. 1955. Die Wanderameisen der neotropischen Region. Studia Entomologica 3:1-720.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Treatment Citation: Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55

praedator (F. SmithHNS 1858).

Alto Paraná, Canindeyú, Central, Cordillera, Pte. Hayes, San Pedro, “ Paraná R.” (Dept. unknown), “Paraguay” (s. loc.) (ALWC, IFML, INBP, LACM, MCZC, NHMB, NHMW). Literature records: Central, Concepción, Cordillera, Ñeembucú, Pte. Hayes, San Pedro (Borgmeier 1955, Emery 1906, Forel 1906, Forel 1908b, Fowler 1979, Santschi 1916).

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 64 times found in montane wet forest, 28 times found in Semideciduous seasonal forest, 15 times found in mature rainforest, 17 times found in wet forest, 12 times found in cloud forest, 8 times found in lowland rainforest, 9 times found in 2º mesophil forest, 2 times found in montane rainforest, 3 times found in premontane rainforest, 1 times found in lowland tropical rain forest, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times in foraging column, 17 times ex sifted leaf litter, 3 times foraging column, 6 times column on ground, 7 times light trap, 7 times at bait, 5 times swarm raid, 7 times ex Malaise trap, 1 times general collecting, 5 times raiding column, 2 times on trail, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 44 times search, 44 times Malaise, 4 times hand collecting, 16 times flight intercept trap, 11 times light trap, 9 times MiniWinkler, 9 times Pan Trap, 7 times Baiting, 6 times Blacklight, 5 times direct collection, 6 times Epigaeic pitfall, ...

Elevations: collected from 5 - 2923 meters, 892 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1925-07-19 00:00:00.0 and 2023-01-25 00:00:00.0

Type specimens: syntype of Eciton praedator emiliae: casent0902658; syntype of Labidus praedator: casent0902656, casent0902657; syntype of Labidus westwoodi: casent0915856

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