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Extant: 1 valid subspecies
Mexico to Argentina. Type locality Brazil. Costa Rica: wet forest areas throughout.
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.
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).
Found most commonly in these habitats: 64 times found in montane wet forest, 28 times found in Semideciduous seasonal forest, 18 times found in wet forest, 15 times found in mature rainforest, 12 times found in cloud forest, 3 times found in montane rainforest, 8 times found in lowland rainforest, 9 times found in 2º mesophil forest, 1 times found in lowland tropical rain forest, 3 times found in premontane rainforest, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times in foraging column, 3 times foraging column, 17 times ex sifted leaf litter, 6 times column on ground, 5 times swarm raid, 7 times light trap, 7 times at bait, 1 times general collecting, 7 times ex Malaise trap, 3 times on trail, 5 times raiding column, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 45 times search, 44 times Malaise, 7 times hand collecting, 16 times flight intercept trap, 11 times light trap, 9 times MiniWinkler, 4 times Berlese, 7 times Baiting, 9 times Pan Trap, 6 times Blacklight, 5 times direct collection, ...
Elevations: collected from 5 - 2923 meters, 939 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