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Species: Pachycondyla harpax   (Fabricius, 1804) 

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Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2022)

Formica harpax Fabricius, 1804 PDF: 401 (w.) SOUTH AMERICA. Neotropic. Primary type information: Type-material: holotype(?) worker. Type-locality: none given: “Habitat in America meridionali Dom. Smidt. Mus. Dom. de Sehestedt.” Type-depository: ZMUC. Type notes: No indication of number of specimens is given. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Wheeler, 1900b PDF: 4, 19 (q.m.l.); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1952c PDF: 618 (l.)
Combination in Ponera: Roger, 1862c PDF: 288.
Status as species: Smith, 1858a PDF: 49; Roger, 1862c PDF: 288; Roger, 1863b PDF: 18, 47; Mayr, 1863a PDF: 439; Mayr, 1870a PDF: 397 (in key); Emery, 1890b PDF: 58, 71 (in key); Emery, 1890c PDF: 42; Cameron, 1891: 91; Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 34; Emery, 1894l PDF: 48; Forel, 1895b PDF: 114; Emery, 1895d PDF: 266; Pergande, 1896 PDF: 873; Forel, 1899b PDF: 12; Wheeler, 1900b PDF: 4; Forel, 1901k PDF: 347; Forel, 1905e PDF: 156; Wheeler, 1907b PDF: 271; Wheeler, 1908h PDF: 401 (redescription); Forel, 1909a PDF: 246; Wheeler, 1910a PDF: 561; Emery, 1911e PDF: 75; Wheeler, 1911a PDF: 21; Forel, 1911e PDF: 285; Mann, 1916 PDF: 415; Wheeler, 1916f PDF: 323; Crawley, 1916b PDF: 367; Luederwaldt, 1918 PDF: 35; Mann, 1922 PDF: 7; Wheeler, 1922e PDF: 3; Borgmeier, 1923: 70; Wheeler, 1925a PDF: 5; Brown, 1950g PDF: 247; Creighton, 1950a PDF: 44; Smith, 1958c PDF: 111; Kempf, 1961b PDF: 493; Kempf, 1961e PDF: 194; Kempf, 1964e PDF: 52 (in key); Smith, 1967a PDF: 347; Kempf, 1972b PDF: 174; Smith, 1979: 1340; Brandão, 1991 PDF: 365; Bolton, 1995b: 305; Wild, 2003 PDF: 9; Wild, 2007b PDF: 39; Mackay et al., 2008 PDF: 193; MacKay & MacKay, 2010 PDF: 374 (redescription); Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012 PDF: 263; Bezděčková et al., 2015 PDF: 124; Feitosa, 2015c PDF: 99; Fernández & Guerrero, 2019 PDF: 541.
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Venezuela
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Nearctic, Neotropical

Distribution Notes:

Widespread in mainland Neotropics, from southern USA (Louisiana) to northern Argentina; also in Jamaica. Costa Rica: widespread in lowland forest, sea level to about 500m elevation, wet and dry forest habitats.


Natural History:

This species is one of the most common Pachycondyla species in Costa Rica. Foragers are common on the ground, never arboreal, and relatively more abundant at night. They occur in most samples of sifted leaf litter (Winkler samples), and I collected them once at a tuna bait. In Corcovado, I once observed a mid-morning mating swarm inside an insectary.

I have never found a nest of this common species. The nest must be subterranean. If they nested in the leaf litter or in dead wood, nests would be more frequently encountered.

Garcia-P. et al. (1997) observed harpax preying on termites (Gnathamitermes tubiformans) in the wild.

When pursued with forceps, workers release a stream of clear viscous secretion from the top of the abdomen (Overal 1987). Overal suggests these are defensive secretions employed in tunnels, where room is lacking in which to wield the sting.


Brown, W. L., Jr. 1950. Morphological, taxonomic, and other notes on ants. Wasmann J. Biol. 8(2):241-250.

Fabricius, J. C. 1804. Systema Piezatorum secundum ordines, genera, species, adjectis synonymis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus. Brunswick: C. Reichard, xiv + 15-439 + 30pp. Ants - p. 395-428.

Garcia P., J. A., A. Blanco P., R. Mercado H., and M. Badii 1997. The predatory behavior of Pachycondyla harpax Fabr. on Gnathamitermes tubiformans Buckley in captivity conditions. Southwestern Entomologist 22:345-353 [Spanish].

Overal, W. L. 1987. Defensive chemical weaponry in the ant Pachycondyla harpax (Formicidae, Ponerinae). Journal of Entomological Science 22:268-269.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Pachycondyla harpax   Forel, A., 1911, Ameisen des Herrn Prof. v. Ihering aus Brasilien (Sao Paulo usw.) nebst einigen anderen aus Südamerika und Afrika (Hym.)., Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 1911, pp. 285-312: 285, (download) 285 4029
Pachycondyla harpax   Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 39, (download) 39 21367
Pachycondyla harpax   Brown, W. L., 1950, Morphological, taxonomic and other notes on ants., Wasmann Journal of Biology 8, pp. 241-250: 247, (download) 247 2360
Pachycondyla harpax   Forel, A., 1905, Miscellanea myrmicologiques, II (1905)., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique 49, pp. 155-185: 156, (download) 156 4001

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 395 times found in mature wet forest, 212 times found in tropical rainforest, 168 times found in tropical moist forest, 120 times found in tropical wet forest, 106 times found in 2º lowland rainforest, 105 times found in lowland wet forest, 104 times found in montane wet forest, 77 times found in 2º wet forest, 50 times found in mesophil forest, 48 times found in lowland rainforest, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 992 times Ex sifted leaf litter, 549 times at bait, 80 times Hojarasca, 28 times sifted litter, 23 times Malaise trap, 12 times ex sifted litter, 6 times under stone, 6 times under rock, 3 times ground foragers, 3 times nocturnal foragers, 3 times foragers, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 772 times MiniWinkler, 547 times Baiting, 128 times Winkler, 145 times MaxiWinkler, 67 times Mini Winkler, 39 times Search, 31 times Malaise, 27 times Berlese, 22 times epigaeic pitfall, 15 times direct collection, 10 times hand collecting, ...

Elevations: collected from 5 - 2600 meters, 336 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1920-07-01 00:00:00.0 and 2022-01-17 00:00:00.0

Type specimens: Lectotype of Pachycondyla harpax dibullana: casent0907250; syntype of Pachycondyla montezumia: casent0902516

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