Acromyrmex crassispinus

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Acromyrmex crassispinus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Acromyrmex
Species: A. crassispinus
Binomial name
Acromyrmex crassispinus
(Forel, 1909)

Acromyrmex crassispinus casent0173793 profile 1.jpg

Acromyrmex crassispinus casent0173793 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Acromyrmex crassispinus is the most common leaf-cutting ant species in southern Brazil (Rando & Forti, 2005).



Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Nickele and Reis Filho (2015) studied the population dynamics of this species in São Mateus do Sul city (25°58’56,33”S, 50°23’49,26”W, alt. 766 m) state of Parana, Brazil. They worked in recently-planted Pinus taeda plantations (clear cut June-July, 2007 and replanted August, 2007). Initially the plantations contained no colonies of Acromyrmex crassispinus and within a few years the developing canopy created enough shade that none of the incipient colonies initially found, and studied, remained. The initial open nature of the tree plantation was a good area for the initiation of incipient nests, despite the subsequent poor nature of the site over a longer time frame.

The presence of A. crassispinus nests was observed from 15 months after planting (Spring/2008), where there was one nest per hectare, on average. Nest density rose to 26 nests per hectare at 30 months after planting (Summer/2010), then declined through time, Fifty-four months after planting, the forest canopy closed and at 72 months after planting, there was only 0.33 nests per hectare, on average. The few nests observed after 54 months after planting were located near tree gaps in the middle of planting.

In the spring of 2009, winged male or female ants were not observed in the nests sampled. In the spring of 2010, winged ants were observed in 50, 20, 20 and 10% of the nests sampled in September, October, November and December, respectively). Males emerge earlier than females. In several nests, while males were already adult, females were still in the pupal stage. Reproductives only occurred in the largest sized nests sampled. The presence of reproductive ants in sampled colonies only from the spring of 2010 (three years after planting) suggests the first nuptial flight of an A. crassispinus colony also occurs after the third year of the colony foundation.

Barrera et al. (2015) studied the diversity of leaf cutting ants along a forest-edge-agriculture habitat gradient. Their study site, in Chaco Serrano of Central Argentina, had forest remnants of various sizes within an agriculture area with wheat, soy and maize. A. crassispinus was the most abundant species (42% of the 162 Acromyrmex colonies sampled). This species was especially abundant in the forest interior and nest abundance here was positively correlated with the size of the forest remnant (12 sites, from 0.42 ha to > 1,000 ha forest area). Along the forest edge it was slightly less abundant then Acromyrmex lundii and Acromyrmex striatus. A few colonies of Acromyrmex heyeri and Acromyrmex silvestrii were also found along the forest edge. Ten Acromyrmex nets were found within 5m of the forest edge but none were sampled 25m from the forest edge in the croplands.

Nickele et al., (2009) found this species prefers to nest in open areas.


Nickele et al. (2015) studied this species in Paraná, Brazil, both in the field and lab, to elucidate details of their leaf transport. Some of their findings: In Acromyrmex crassispinus cutting and carrying of fragments were clearly separated activities performed by distinct worker groups differing in body size. Cutters were larger than carriers. In addition, the behavior of foragers of differed significantly according to variation in trail distances. On short trails (1 m), cutters frequently transported the fragments directly to the nest, whereas on long trails (more than 10 m), most cutters transferred the fragments to other workers. Transport chains (fragments found on the trail or directly received from nestmates are transported consecutively by different carriers) happened more frequently when workers harvested plants far from the nest. Transfer was mostly indirect, in other words, fragments were dropped on the ground and collected by outgoing workers that turned back and returned to the nest. Direct fragment transfers between workers were not observed under laboratory conditions. It was observed only on long trails in the field. Lopes et al. (2003) also did not observe direct fragment transfers for this species under laboratory conditions. These results demonstrate that Acromyrmex species display both division of labor between cutters and carriers, and task partitioning during leaf transport, with trail lengths showing marked effects on the likelihood of sequential transport. Furthermore, the results of this study provide support for the hypothesis that the behavioral response of transferring fragments in Acromyrmex species would have been selected for because of its positive effect on the information flow between workers.




The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • crassispinus. Atta (Acromyrmex) mesonotalis var. crassispina Forel, 1909a: 257 (w.) PARAGUAY. Santschi, 1925a: 374 (q.). Combination in Acromyrmex: Emery, 1924d: 349. Subspecies of mesonotalis: Forel, 1914e: 11. Raised to species: Santschi, 1925a: 374. Senior synonym of: atratus, diabolica, insularis, mediocris, rusticus and material of the unavailable name rufescens referred here: Gonçalves, 1961: 139.
  • diabolica. Acromyrmex nigrosetosa var. diabolica Santschi, 1922b: 362 (w.) BRAZIL. Santschi, 1925d: 240 (m.). Subspecies of crassispinus: Santschi, 1925a: 375. Raised to species: Santschi, 1925d: 240. Junior synonym of crassispinus: Gonçalves, 1961: 139.
  • atratus. Acromyrmex hispidus st. atratus Santschi, 1925a: 376 (w.q.) ARGENTINA. Junior synonym of crassispinus: Gonçalves, 1961: 139.
  • insularis. Acromyrmex aspersus var. insularis Santschi, 1925d: 242 (w.) BRAZIL. Junior synonym of crassispinus: Gonçalves, 1961: 139.
  • mediocris. Acromyrmex diabolicus var. mediocris Santschi, 1925d: 241 (w.) BRAZIL. Junior synonym of crassispinus: Gonçalves, 1961: 139.
  • rusticus. Acromyrmex crassispinus st. rusticus Santschi, 1925a: 375 (w.q.) BRAZIL. Junior synonym of crassispinus: Gonçalves, 1961: 139.



  • 2n = 38 (Brazil) (Fadini & Pompolo, 1996).


  • Barrera, C. A., L. M. Buffa, and G. Valladares. 2015. Do leaf-cutting ants benefit from forest fragmentation? Insights from community and species-specific responses in a fragmented dry forest. Insect Conservation and Diversity. 8:456-463. doi:10.1111/icad.12125
  • Emery, C. 1924f [1922]. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [concl.]. Genera Insectorum 174C: 207-397 (page 349, Combination in Acromyrmex)
  • Forel, A. 1909a. Ameisen aus Guatemala usw., Paraguay und Argentinien (Hym.). Dtsch. Entomol. Z. 1909: 239-269 (page 257, worker described)
  • Forel, A. 1914e. Quelques fourmis de Colombie. Pp. 9-14 in: Fuhrmann, O., Mayor, E. Voyage d'exploration scientifique en Colombie. Mém. Soc. Neuchâtel. Sci. Nat. 5(2):1-1090. (page 11, subspecies of mesonotalis)
  • Gonçalves, C. R. 1961. O genero Acromyrmex no Brasil (Hym. Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. 4: 113-180 (page 139, senior synonym of: atratus, diabolica, insularis, mediocris and rusticus, and material of the unavailable name rufescens referred here)
  • Nickele, M. A. and W. Reis Filho. 2015. Population Dynamics of Acromyrmex crassispinus (Forel) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and Attacks on Pinus taeda Linnaeus (Pinaceae) plantations. Sociobiology. 62:340-346. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v62i3.422
  • Nickele, M. A., W. Reis Filho, and M. R. Pie. 2015. Sequential load transport during foraging in Acromyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) leaf-cutting ants. Myrmecological News. 21:73-82.
  • Santschi, F. 1925a. Revision du genre Acromyrmex Mayr. Rev. Suisse Zool. 31: 355-398 (page 374, queen described, raised to species)