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Species: Azteca nigricans   Forel, 1899 

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Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2022)

Azteca fasciata var. nigricans Forel, 1899h PDF: 122 (q.) PANAMA. Neotropic. Primary type information: Primary type material: holotype queen. Primary type locality: Panama: Bugala, Volcán de Chiriqui (Champion). Primary type depository: MHNG. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Status as species: Longino, 1996 PDF: 141; Longino, 2007 PDF: 40 (redescription); Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012 PDF: 253.
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):

Distribution Notes:

Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala. Costa Rica: widespread.


Natural History:

Longino (1996) reviewed the taxonomy and biology of this species. It is found in wet forest habitats, where it nests in live stems of a wide variety of trees, including Cecropia insignis, Inga, Pentaclethra macroloba, Erythrina poeppigiana (Fabaceae), Tetrathylacium costaricensis, Licania, Phoebe chavarriana (Lauraceae), and Dendropanax arboreus (Araliaceae). At La Selva Biological Station, workers were encountered in two of 18 Project ALAS canopy fogging samples, from crowns of Carapa guianensis (Meliaceae) and Tapirira guianensis (Anacardiaceae).

The workers make small holes in shoot tips of live trees, leading to irregular cavities containing brood. The walls of the cavities are lined with abundant coccoid Hemiptera. As flushes of new growth occur, the ants move into the new shoots and progressively abandon older chambers lower in the branch. Colonies are polydomous, with brood distributed in multiple nests. Colonies can be large, occurring in large portions of large canopy trees. In contrast to the similar species A. brevis, workers do not use carton construction and often have exposed foragers on stems. Although new alate queens are often dispersed in the nests of a colony, I have never found a physogastric colony queen. This suggests that colonies are monogynous, with the colony queen hidden in one of the many nests that occur in tree crowns. Brood must be transported externally to new nests.


In Longino (1996), two morphospecies, JTL-001 and JTL-002, were considered close to or conspecific with A. nigicans. The former was discovered to be A. brevis, and the measurements of the latter cluster with the holotype queen of A. nigricans. The separateness of A. brevis and A. nigricans was further supported when the two species were found to be sympatric. I found both species nesting in the canopy of a large Licania tree in Corcovado National Park. At the time I did not understand the species boundaries, but in the field I observed behavioral differences. In my field notes I commented that Azteca high in the crown produced a black crusty carton on the stem surfaces and were rarely seen exposed on the surface, while another group of Azteca lower in the crown looked similar but did not make carton and were active and exposed on the surface of the live stems in which they nested. The former were A. brevis and the latter A. nigricans.

Literature Cited

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
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 nigricans   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: 40-41, (download) 40-41 21311 GoogleMaps

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 17 times found in montane wet forest, 7 times found in rainforest, 1 times found in mature lowland rainforest, 3 times found in SSO 450m, 1 times found in 2nd growth rainforest, 2 times found in secondary growth, 1 times found in roadside vegetation, 2 times found in Secondary forest, 1 times found in SAT, 1 times found in Canopy, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times ex live stems Phoebe chavarriana (Lauraceae), 3 times ex Cordia alliodora, 1 times in live stems Erythrina poeppigiana, 1 times ex live stems Inga, 1 times nest in live stem canopy Licania, 3 times ex Zanthoxylum, 1 times in live stems Pentaclethra, 1 times ex thorns of tree in Bombacaceae, 1 times Copa de arbol, 1 times Canopy, 1 times recent treefall, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 24 times Fogging, 14 times Search, 13 times Foggin, 8 times Malaise, 1 times HandCollection, 1 times light trap.

Elevations: collected from 5 - 1000 meters, 174 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1926-10-18 00:00:00.0 and 2021-10-28 00:00:00.0

Type specimens: syntype of Azteca nigricans: casent0909625

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