Azteca constructor

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Azteca constructor
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Tribe: Leptomyrmecini
Genus: Azteca
Species: A. constructor
Binomial name
Azteca constructor
Emery, 1896

Azteca constructor casent0249537 p 1 high.jpg

Azteca constructor casent0249537 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


Longino (2007) - The taxonomy and biology of A. constructor are reviewed in Longino (1989b, 1991a, b). The species is an obligate Cecropia ant. It inhabits a broad range of habitats and elevations. It is often associated with forest gaps or edges where there are relatively larger and older Cecropia trees. Mature colonies occupy a single carton nest in the bole of the tree. The nest is spindle-shaped and causes a deformation of the trunk. All larvae and alate sexuals are concentrated in this single nest. Branch tips, which all communicate internally with the carton nest, contain only workers and Hemiptera. Workers of this species are extremely aggressive, and respond to any disturbance by pouring out of large fissures near the carton nest and blackening the trunk surface (Longino 1991a).


Longino (2007) - The queens of A. constructor are very distinctive and not easily confused with any other species. Workers of A. constructor and Azteca xanthochroa are very similar. Large workers of A. constructor retain a chocolate brown color, while large workers of A. xanthochroa become more mottled orange. The petiolar node of A. constructor workers is relatively low, while the posteroventral lobe is relatively deep and strongly convex. Workers of A. xanthochroa are the reverse, with relatively taller node and shallower ventral lobe.

Keys including this Species


Guatemala south through Central America to coastal northeastern South America.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 18.18333333° to -0.5833°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Costa Rica (type locality), Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

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.



Longino (2007) - Alate queens of this species and another common Cecropia ant, A. xanthochroa, are relatively common in Malaise trap samples from the Atlantic slope rainforests of Costa Rica. No other Azteca species are common in Malaise traps, even though they are common in the environment. Even the other common Cecropia ants, Azteca alfari and Azteca ovaticeps, are not common in Malaise samples. This implies that there is something distinctive about the behavior of queens of these two species that makes them more susceptible to capture.

Association with Other Organisms

This species is a host for the eurytomid wasp Aximopsis aztecicida (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).

  • This species is a host for the milichiid fly unknown species (a myrmecophile) in Costa Rica (Swann, 2010; Milichiidae online).





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

  • constructor. Azteca constructor Emery, 1896c: 2, figs. 2a-e, 3 (w.q.m.) COSTA RICA.
    • Status as species: Forel, 1899c: 110; Forel, 1912h: 50; Emery, 1913a: 32; Wheeler, W.M. 1922c: 14; Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 225; Kempf, 1972a: 31; Brandão, 1991: 329; Longino, 1991: 1585 (redescription); Shattuck, 1994: 15; Bolton, 1995b: 78; Longino, 2007: 26 (redescription); Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012: 253; Guerrero, 2019: 705.
    • Senior synonym of emmae: Longino, 1991: 1585; Shattuck, 1994: 15; Bolton, 1995b: 78; Longino, 2007: 26.
    • Senior synonym of guianae: Longino, 1991: 1585; Shattuck, 1994: 15; Bolton, 1995b: 78; Longino, 2007: 26.
  • emmae. Azteca emmae Forel, 1904e: 702 (footnote) (s.w.q.m.) COSTA RICA.
    • Status as species: Forel, 1908b: 62; Emery, 1913a: 32; Kempf, 1972a: 31.
    • Junior synonym of constructor: Longino, 1991: 1585; Shattuck, 1994: 15; Bolton, 1995b: 78; Longino, 2007: 26.
  • guianae. Azteca constructor var guianae Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 226 (w.q.) GUYANA.
    • Subspecies of constructor: Kempf, 1972a: 31.
    • Junior synonym of constructor: Longino, 1991: 1585; Shattuck, 1994: 15; Bolton, 1995b: 79; Longino, 2007: 26.

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



Longino (2007) - (n=10): HLA 1.36 (1.24–1.44,3), HW 1.01 (0.68–1.35), SL 0.76 (0.53–0.89), CI 94 (94–101,3), SI 64 (60–69,3).

Palpal formula 5,3; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible faintly roughened, not smooth and shining, with sparse small piligerous puncta, setae in puncta short to long, larger puncta with long setae near masticatory margin; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level, medial lobe at most weakly projecting beyond lateral lobes; head with convex sides, strongly cordate posterior margin; mesosoma in lateral profile with promesonotum forming a broad convexity, promesonotal suture weakly impressed, such that pronotum and mesonotum tend toward being separate convexities, mesonotum more strongly convex than pronotum; metanotal groove broad; petiole in profile with node less massive than sternal lobe, perpendicular distance from tergosternal suture to apex of node less than distance to ventral margin of sternal lobe (in contrast to Azteca xanthochroa, on which the petiolar node is larger relative to sternal lobe); scape with abundant erect setae, length of setae about one half maximum width of scape; mid and hind tibia with abundant erect setae, longest setae about one half maximum width of tibia; sides of head with abundant short erect setae from mandibular insertions to level of eye, becoming sparse to absent posterior to eye; posterior margin of head with abundant long curved setae; mesosomal dorsum with abundant erect setae, those on pronotum long, on mesonotum shorter, on dorsal face of propodeum very short, grading into pubescence; color brown.


Longino (2007) - (n=12): HLA 1.75 (1.56–1.79,6), HW 1.61 (1.45–1.73), SL 0.87 (0.79–0.94), CI 94 (91–98,6), SI 51 (49–53,6).

Palpal formula 5,3; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible roughened, dull, with sparse small piligerous puncta, setae in puncta short, larger puncta with long setae near masticatory margin; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level (medial lobe not projecting anteriorly); head quadrate, with sides somewhat convex, weakly cordate posteriorly; petiolar node low, triangular, acute, but apex rounded, not sharp; posteroventral petiolar lobe evenly convex, shallow, not strongly developed, ending before posterior margin of sternite, leaving small rim formed by posteriormost portion of sternite; scape with abundant erect setae, about as long as one half to two thirds maximum width of scape; middle and hind tibia with abundant erect setae, longest of these about as long as maximum width of tibia (MTSC 20–35); sides of head with erect setae variably abundant, from nearly absent to moderately abundant; posterior margin of head with abundant very long setae; pronotum with abundant long setae on posterior third; mesoscutum, scutellum, and propodeum with dense brush of abundant setae; petiolar node with variable number of long setae on apex, abundant long setae on posteroventral lobe; all gastral terga with abundant erect setae; color black.

Type Material

Longino (2007) - Syntype workers, queens, males: Costa Rica, Atlantic and Pacific slopes (Alfaro) [label: Jimenez, C. R. v.95] Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa (examined).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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  • Emery C. 1896. Alcune forme nuove del genere Azteca For. e note biologiche. Bollettino dei Musei di Zoologia ed Anatomia Comparata della Reale Università di Torino 11(230): 1-7.
  • Emery C. 1896. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. XVII-XXV. Bullettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 28: 33-107.
  • Emery C. 1913. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Dolichoderinae. Genera Insectorum 137: 1-50.
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  • Forel A. 1912. Formicides néotropiques. Part V. 4me sous-famille Dolichoderinae Forel. Mémoires de la Société Entomologique de Belgique. 20: 33-58.
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  • INBio Collection (via Gbif)
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  • Longino J. T. 1991. Taxonomy of the Cecropia-inhabiting Azteca ants. Journal of Natural History 25: 1571-1602
  • Longino J. T. 2007. A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group. Zootaxa 1491: 1-63
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