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Costa Rica: various middle elevation sites on the Atlantic slope.
All Simopelta species are nomadic group raiders, convergent with Ecitoninae.
I know this species from seven different collections, not including the collection on which Gotwald and Brown's original description was based. Collections have all been from mid-elevation Atlantic slope: 600-1000m in the Cordillera de Tilarán, 400-1500m in the Cordillera Volcanica Central, and 1300m in the Tapantí area.
Gotwald and Brown (1967) thoroughly described the ecitonine-like behavior of this species, based on a nest collection from near Guapiles, Costa Rica. A foraging column led to a nest in a vertical dead stick suspended in low vegetation. The raiding column was returning with Pheidole brood as prey. At the time of collection the nest contained 361 workers (not including the estimated several hundred workers in the observed foraging column) and one queen.
JTL5Jul84/0830: Wet forest; raiding column at 0830hrs. I followed the leading edge of the column. They were carrying booty so I presume they were returning. At first the column followed a route of several meters without hesitation; suddenly it became very hesitant, bunching up at the front, exploratory columns extending out in several directions. The column very slowly proceeded in this fashion for 2-3 meters, then I quit watching them. Later note: in the container, in addition to Simopelta workers, were 2 Pheidole truncula soldiers and 1 minor worker (and a few small brood). I presume these were being carried by the raiding Simopelta workers when I collected them.
JTL5516: cloud forest; at 1550hrs I saw a column of workers. The column was only about a meter long, with perhaps a hundred workers. Some of the workers were carrying tiny ant brood, and one worker was carrying an adult Stenamma felixi worker. I followed the column as it wound through the forest, usually on low sticks and vines, elevated just off the surface. They rarely traveled directly on the leaf litter. The column came to a dead and rotten section of aroid stem propped against a tree buttress. Workers were going into this rotten section. I collected the entire section into a plastic bag for later dissection. The point where I first saw the raiding column was 7m from the nest. The total nest population was one queen, 1942 workers, and 100-200 larvae. The larvae were of a relatively uniform, intermediate size. There were no eggs, small brood, or pupae.
Eye relatively larger than any other species; mandible with two apical teeth and large basal tooth, basal tooth relatively sharp; anteromedian clypeal border triangular, strongly projecting, without spine; face largely punctate; head relatively narrow, head width/head length less than 0.8.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 3 times found in cloud forest, 5 times found in montane wet forest, 2 times found in mature cloud forest, 1 times found in 1˚ tropical forest, 1 times found in moist forest, river edge, 1 times found in ridgetop cloud forest, isolated peak with oak trees, 2 times found in wet forest, 1 times found in cloud forest at bottom of steep slope, bordering rocky river, old 2nd growth veg., 1 times found in mature rainforest, edge of forest near pasture and agricultural land, steep rocky terrain.
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times column, 3 times ex sifted leaf litter, 1 times column on creek stones, 1 times column at night, 00 am, cloudy times ground foragers in file, 9, simopelta raiding column. I followed the times wet forest, around Guindon cabin. 0830, 1 times en el suelo, 1 times column on rocks, 1 times nest, 1 times Hojarasca, 1 times ground foragers, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 10 times search, 1 times hand collected, 2 times miniWinkler, 1 times maxiWinkler, 1 times Mini Winkler.
Elevations: collected from 500 - 1500 meters, 1071 meters average
Collect Date Range: collected between 1966-02-25 and 2015-07-07
Type specimens: paratype of Simopelta oculata: casent0915305