Azteca nigra

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Azteca nigra
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Tribe: Leptomyrmecini
Genus: Azteca
Species: A. nigra
Binomial name
Azteca nigra
Forel, 1912

Azteca nigra casent0249597 p 1 high.jpg

Azteca nigra casent0249597 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Azteca nigra occurs in lowland wet forest, where it forms ant gardens in the understory. I have observed two colonies, both in the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica. One was in Tortuguero National Park and the other at La Selva Biological Station. The Tortuguero collection was a cluster of small ant gardens in low vegetation. One nest was adjacent to a group of rotten sticks, inside of which were males and winged queens. Inside another stick was an aggregation of Camponotus atriceps workers, living parabiotically with the Azteca. The La Selva collection was also a series of small carton nests sprouting a few epiphytes. The nests were scattered on stems and leaves of a cluster of low melastomes. The nests covered coccoid Hemiptera and contained ant brood. A few higher nests on individual melastome leaves contained alate queens. One basal, central nest was built around a 50cm long dead branch. Camponotus atriceps were parabiotic in the central nest and some of the satellite nests. The Camponotus and Azteca occupied separate chambers, but the chambers were connected and the two species moved freely among each other as the nests were being disturbed. In the central nest, which was a combination of carton chambers and chambers in the dead branch, the Azteca were clearly associated with the carton areas. It appeared that the Camponotus were living parabiotically in the nest of the Azteca, with the Azteca being the primary architects and owners of the nests. (Longino 2007)


Longino (2007) - Queens of Azteca velox, Azteca quadraticeps, and Azteca flavigaster are all very similar to A. nigra but differ in head size and the lack of a posterior notch on the posteroventral petiolar lobe. Workers of A. flavigaster, A. nigra, and A. velox are all very similar in terms of size and shape (workers of A. quadraticeps are unknown but are expected to be in this group as well). Workers of A. flavigaster are distinguished from A. nigra by the bright yellow gastral dorsum. Workers of A. velox are most similar to A. nigra in terms of general size and coloration. Azteca velox workers tend to have relatively shorter scapes. On the largest workers of A. nigra the presence of a small posterior notch on the posteroventral petiolar lobe may distinguish them from both A. flavigaster and A. velox.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 18.64° to 9.266667°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama (type locality).

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 Overview of Azteca biology 
All known Azteca species are arboreal, nesting in living or dead wood, or external carton nests. Some species exhibit obligate associations with myrmecophytes, especially of the genus Cecropia (see Chapter 14 of The Ants). Feeding habits are generalized with foraging occurring both arboreally and on the ground.


Images from AntWeb

Azteca nigra casent0249597 p 2 high.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0249597. Photographer Ryan Perry, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by JTLC.


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

  • nigra. Azteca velox r. nigra Forel, 1912h: 48 (w.q.m.) PANAMA.
    • Type-material: syntype workers, syntype queens, syntype males (numbers not stated).
    • [Note: Shattuck, 1994: 29, cites 34w, 3q, 4m syntypes MHNG.]
    • Type-locality: Panama: (no further data) (Christophersen).
    • Type-depository: MHNG.
    • Subspecies of velox: Kempf, 1972a: 36; Shattuck, 1994: 29; Bolton, 1995b: 79.
    • Status as species: Longino, 2007: 38 (redescription).
    • Distribution: Costa Rica, Panama.

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



Longino (2007) - (n=4): HLA 1.06 (0.96–1.13), HW 1.04 (0.94–1.14), SL 0.93 (0.90–0.96), CI 100 (96–101), SI 88 (85–94).

Palpal formula 6,4; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible smooth and shining, with moderately abundant small piligerous puncta, setae in puncta short, erect, larger puncta with long setae near masticatory margin; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level; head with moderately to weakly convex sides, moderately cordate posterior margin; in lateral profile promesonotum forming single convexity; posteroventral lobe of petiole with small posterior notch, similar to queen, but small and barely discernable; 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; side of head with about 5 erect setae on malar area, short erect setae variably present along entire side of head; posterior margin of head with abundant erect setae; pronotum, mesonotum, and dorsal face of propodeum with abundant long erect setae; anterior and anterolateral portions of head light yellow brown, variable extent of darker brown on medial vertex and posteriorly, mesosoma and gaster brown.


Longino (2007) - (n=4): HLA 1.61 (1.61–1.63), HW 1.71 (1.64–1.73), SL 1.05 (1.02–1.08), CI 105 (102–107), SI 65 (63–67).

Palpal formula 6,4; ocelli small; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible with small piligerous puncta, setae in puncta short, subdecumbent, interspaces between puncta shiny, becoming faintly microareolate at base; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level; head with convex sides, posterior margin weakly cordate, shallowly excavate; petiolar node tall, strongly compressed into thin scale at apex; posteroventral lobe of petiole deep, with posterior margin forming a separate convexity that extends as far posteriorly as posterior tergal lobe, with a small notch or concavity between the sternal convexity and the tergal lobe (Fig. 1D, 5); scape with moderately abundant erect setae, about as long as one half maximum width of scape; middle and hind tibia with abundant erect setae, longest of these about as long as one half maximum width of tibia (MTSC 25–30); side of head with 2–4 short erect setae near mandibular insertions, bare elsewhere; posterior margin of head with abundant erect setae; pronotum with erect setae on posterior margin; mesoscutum, scutellum, and propodeum with abundant erect setae; petiolar node rimmed with erect pubescence and sparse longer erect setae, 0–2 pairs of erect setae extending above apex in profile, posterior border of sternal lobe of petiole with dense layer of erect setae of irregular lengths; gastral terga with sparse long erect setae; light orange brown coloration on clypeus, malar area, antennal fossa, and side of head, variable extent of infuscation on medial and posterior vertex.

Type Material

Longino (2007) - Syntype workers, queen, males: Panama (Christophersen) Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève (examined).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Basset Y., L. Cizek, P. Cuenoud, R. K. Didham, F. Guilhaumon, O. Missa, V. Novotny, F. Odegaards, T. Roslin, J. Schmidl et al. 2012. Arthropod diversity in a tropical forest. Science 338(6113): 1481-1484.
  • Branstetter M. G. and L. Sáenz. 2012. Las hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de Guatemala. Pp. 221-268 in: Cano E. B. and J. C. Schuster. (eds.) 2012. Biodiversidad de Guatemala. Volumen 2. Guatemala: Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, iv + 328 pp
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Forel A. 1912. Formicides néotropiques. Part V. 4me sous-famille Dolichoderinae Forel. Mémoires de la Société Entomologique de Belgique. 20: 33-58.
  • Longino J. T. 2013. Ants of Honduras. Consulted on 18 Jan 2013.
  • Longino J. T. 2013. Ants of Nicargua. Consulted on 18 Jan 2013.
  • Longino, J.T. 2010. Personal Communication. Longino Collection Database
  • Shattuck S. O. 1994. Taxonomic catalog of the ant subfamilies Aneuretinae and Dolichoderinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). University of California Publications in Entomology 112: i-xix, 1-241.