Apterostigma auriculatum

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Apterostigma auriculatum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Apterostigma
Species: A. auriculatum
Binomial name
Apterostigma auriculatum
Wheeler, W.M., 1925

Apterostigma auriculatum casent0613604 p 1 high.jpg

Apterostigma auriculatum casent0613604 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels



Mera-Rodriguez, et al. (2020) - Eyes relatively big and prominent (more than nine ommatidia along the shortest axis); frontal lobes subquadrate in full-face view, anterior margin of clypeus concave, lacking shiny cuticular strip; neck relatively long and broad, lacking median carina; humeral prominence in dorsal view shaped as angular lobe; ventral mesopleural carina in lateral view fine; and petiole in lateral view triangular, with antero- and postero-dorsal profiles almost of same length (Lattke 1997).


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 15.6864989° to -64.3°.

Tropical South

Mera-Rodriguez, et al. (2020) - This species occurs from Honduras to Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil and is widely distributed throughout central and northwestern South America (Lattke 1997; Fernández and Sendoya 2004).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago (type locality), Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


Explore-icon.png Explore Fungus Growing 
For additional details see Fungus growing ants.

A handful of ant species (approx. 275 out of the known 15,000 species) have developed the ability to cultivate fungus within their nests. In most species the fungus is used as the sole food source for the larvae and is an important resource for the adults as well. Additionally, in a limited number of cases, the fungus is used to construct part of the nest structure but is not as a food source.

These fungus-feeding species are limited to North and South America, extending from the pine barrens of New Jersey, United States, in the north (Trachymyrmex septentrionalis) to the cold deserts in Argentina in the south (several species of Acromyrmex). Species that use fungi in nest construction are known from Europe and Africa (a few species in the genera Crematogaster, Lasius).

The details of fungal cultivation are rich and complex. First, a wide variety of materials are used as substrate for fungus cultivating. The so-called lower genera include species that prefer dead vegetation, seeds, flowers, fruits, insect corpses, and feces, which are collected in the vicinity of their nests. The higher genera include non leaf-cutting species that collect mostly fallen leaflets, fruit, and flowers, as well as the leafcutters that collect fresh leaves from shrubs and trees. Second, while the majority of fungi that are farmed by fungus-feeding ants belong to the family Lepiotaceae, mostly the genera Leucoagaricus and Leucocoprinus, other fungi are also involved. Some species utilise fungi in the family Tricholomataceae while a few others cultivate yeast. The fungi used by the higher genera no longer produce spores. Their fungi produce nutritious and swollen hyphal tips (gongylidia) that grow in bundles called staphylae, to specifically feed the ants. Finally, colony size varies tremendously among these ants. Lower taxa mostly live in inconspicuous nests with 100–1000 individuals and relatively small fungus gardens. Higher taxa, in contrast, live in colonies made of 5–10 million ants that live and work within hundreds of interconnected fungus-bearing chambers in huge subterranean nests. Some colonies are so large, they can be seen from satellite photos, measuring up to 600 m3.

Based on these habits, and taking phylogenetic information into consideration, these ants can be divided into six biologically distinct agricultural systems (with a list of genera involved in each category):

Nest Construction

A limited number of species that use fungi in the construction of their nests.

Lower Agriculture

Practiced by species in the majority of fungus-feeding genera, including those thought to retain more primitive features, which cultivate a wide range of fungal species in the tribe Leucocoprineae.

Coral Fungus Agriculture

Practiced by species in the Apterostigma pilosum species-group, which cultivate fungi within the Pterulaceae.

Yeast Agriculture

Practiced by species within the Cyphomyrmex rimosus species-group, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi derived from the lower attine fungi.

Generalized Higher Agriculture

Practiced by species in several genera of non-leaf-cutting "higher attine" ants, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi separately derived from the lower attine fungi.

Leaf-Cutter Agriculture

A subdivision of higher attine agriculture practiced by species within several ecologically dominant genera, which cultivate a single highly derived species of higher attine fungus.

Note that the farming habits of Mycetagroicus (4 species) are unknown. Also, while species of Pseudoatta (2 species) are closely related to the fungus-feeding genus Acromyrmex, they are social parasites, living in the nests of their hosts and are not actively involved in fungus growing. ‎

Association with Other Organisms

Explore-icon.png Explore: Show all Associate data or Search these data. See also a list of all data tables or learn how data is managed.
  • This species is a host for the diapriid wasp Leucopria (a parasite) (www.diapriid.org) (potential host).



Images from AntWeb

Apterostigma auriculatum casent0905912 h 1 high.jpgApterostigma auriculatum casent0905912 p 1 high.jpgApterostigma auriculatum casent0905912 d 1 high.jpgApterostigma auriculatum casent0905912 l 1 high.jpg
Syntype of Apterostigma immobileWorker. Specimen code casent0905912. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MSNG, Genoa, Italy.


Images from AntWeb

Apterostigma auriculatum inbiocri001284064 h 1 high.jpgApterostigma auriculatum inbiocri001284064 p 1 high.jpgApterostigma auriculatum inbiocri001284064 d 1 high.jpgApterostigma auriculatum inbiocri001284064 l 1 high.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code inbiocri001284064. Photographer Estella Ortega, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by Rabeling.


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • auriculatum. Apterostigma auriculatum Wheeler, W.M. 1925a: 49 (w.q.) TRINIDAD.
    • Status as species: Weber, 1945: 39; Weber, 1946b: 133; Weber, 1958c: 243; Kempf, 1970b: 336; Kempf, 1972a: 23; Bolton, 1995b: 74; Lattke, 1997: 138 (redescription); Guénard & Economo, 2015: 227; Fernández & Serna, 2019: 838.
    • Senior synonym of billi: Lattke, 1997: 139.
    • Senior synonym of demerarae: Weber, 1958c: 243; Kempf, 1972a: 23; Bolton, 1995b: 74; Lattke, 1997: 139.
    • Senior synonym of icta: Lattke, 1997: 139.
    • Senior synonym of immobile: Weber, 1958c: 243; Kempf, 1972a: 23; Bolton, 1995b: 74; Lattke, 1997: 139.
    • Senior synonym of petiolatum: Lattke, 1997: 139.
  • billi. Apterostigma billi Weber, 1938b: 165, figs. 5, 17 (w.) BOLIVIA.
    • Status as species: Weber, 1958c: 244; Kempf, 1972a: 23; Bolton, 1995b: 74.
    • Junior synonym of auriculatum: Lattke, 1997: 139.
  • demerarae. Apterostigma auriculatum var. demerarae Wheeler, W.M. 1925a: 51 (w.q.m.) GUYANA.
    • Subspecies of auriculatum: Weber, 1946b: 133.
    • Junior synonym of auriculatum: Weber, 1958c: 243; Kempf, 1972a: 23; Bolton, 1995b: 74; Lattke, 1997: 139.
  • icta. Apterostigma wasmanni var. icta Weber, 1937: 393 (q.) TRINIDAD.
    • Subspecies of wasmannii: Weber, 1945: 39.
    • Subspecies of auriculatum: Weber, 1958c: 244; Kempf, 1972a: 23; Bolton, 1995b: 74.
    • Junior synonym of auriculatum: Lattke, 1997: 139.
  • immobile. Apterostigma immobile Weber, 1940a: 418 (w.m.) PANAMA.
    • Status as species: Weber, 1941b: 114.
    • Junior synonym of auriculatum: Weber, 1958c: 243; Kempf, 1972a: 23; Bolton, 1995b: 74; Lattke, 1997: 139.
  • petiolatum. Apterostigma wasmanni subsp. petiolatum Weber, 1938b: 175, fig. 10 (w.m.) BOLIVIA.
    • Subspecies of auriculatum: Weber, 1958c: 244; Kempf, 1972a: 23; Bolton, 1995b: 74.
    • Junior synonym of auriculatum: Lattke, 1997: 139.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.


Lattke 1999. Figure 4. Helcium and anterodorsal gastral area of Apterostigma auriculatum and Myrmicocrypta buenzlii. a, dorsal view in A. auriculatum; b, lateral view in A. auriculatum; c, dorsal view in M. buenzlii; d, lateral view in M. buenzlii. he = helcium. 10 = anterodorsal lobe.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Alonso L. E., J. Persaud, and A. Williams. 2016. Biodiversity assessment survey of the south Rupununi Savannah, Guyana. BAT Survey Report No.1, 306 pages.
  • Fernandes I., and J. de Souza. 2018. Dataset of long-term monitoring of ground-dwelling ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the influence areas of a hydroelectric power plant on the Madeira River in the Amazon Basin. Biodiversity Data Journal 6: e24375.
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Franco W., N. Ladino, J. H. C. Delabie, A. Dejean, J. Orivel, M. Fichaux, S. Groc, M. Leponce, and R. M. Feitosa. 2019. First checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of French Guiana. Zootaxa 4674(5): 509-543.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Klingenberg, C. and C.R.F. Brandao. 2005. The type specimens of fungus growing ants, Attini (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae) deposited in the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Papeis Avulsos de Zoologia 45(4):41-50
  • Kusnezov N. 1953. La fauna mirmecológica de Bolivia. Folia Universitaria. Cochabamba 6: 211-229.
  • Lattke J. E. 1997. Revisión del género Apterostigma Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Arquivos do Instituto Biológico (São Paulo) 34: 121-221
  • Longino J. T. 2013. Ants of Honduras. Consulted on 18 Jan 2013. https://sites.google.com/site/longinollama/reports/ants-of-honduras
  • Longino J. T. 2013. Ants of Nicargua. Consulted on 18 Jan 2013. https://sites.google.com/site/longinollama/reports/ants-of-nicaragua
  • Longino J. T., and R. K. Colwell. 2011. Density compensation, species composition, and richness of ants on a neotropical elevational gradient. Ecosphere 2(3): 16pp.
  • Longino J. et al. ADMAC project. Accessed on March 24th 2017 at https://sites.google.com/site/admacsite/
  • Mayhe-Nunes A. J., and K. Jaffe. 1998. On the biogeography of attini (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ecotropicos 11(1): 45-54.
  • Solomon S. E., C. Rabeling, J. Sosa-Calvo, C. Lopes, A. Rodrigues, H. L. Vasconcelos, M. Bacci, U. G. Mueller, and T. R. Schultz. 2019. The molecular phylogenetics of Trachymyrmex Forel ants and their fungal cultivars provide insights into the origin and coevolutionary history of ‘higher-attine’ ant agriculture. Systematic Entomology 44: 939–956.
  • Sosa-Calvo J., F. Fernandez, and T. R. Schultz. 2018. Phylogeny and evolution of the cryptic fungus-farming ant genus Myrmicocrypta F. Smith (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) inferred from multilocus data. Systematic Entomology DOI: 10.1111/syen.12313
  • Villesen, P., U. Mueller, T.R. Schultz, R.M.M. Adams and A.C. Bouck. Evolution of Ant-Cultivar Specialization and Cultivar Switching in Apterostigma Fungus-Growing Ants. Evolution 58(10):2252-2265
  • Weber N. A. 1937. The biology of the fungus-growing ants. Part l. New forms. Rev. Entomol. (Rio J.) 7: 378-409.
  • Weber N. A. 1940. The biology of the fungus-growing ants. Part VI. Key to Cyphomyrmex, new Attini and a new guest ant. Rev. Entomol. (Rio J.) 11: 406-427.
  • Weber N. A. 1941. The biology of the fungus-growing ants. Part VII. The Barro Colorado Island, Canal Zone, species. Rev. Entomol. (Rio J.) 12: 93-130.
  • Weber N. A. 1945. The biology of the fungus-growing ants. Part VIII. The Trinidad, B. W. I., species. Revista de Entomologia (Rio de Janeiro) 16: 1-88.
  • Weber N. A. 1946. The biology of the fungus-growing ants. Part IX. The British Guiana species. Revista de Entomologia (Rio de Janeiro) 17: 114-172.
  • Weber N. A. 1958. Synonymies and types of Apterostigma (Hym: Formicidae). Entomological News 69: 243-251.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1925. Neotropical ants in the collections of the Royal Museum of Stockholm. Arkiv för Zoologi 17A(8): 1-55.