Cephalotes persimplex

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Cephalotes persimplex
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cephalotes
Species: C. persimplex
Binomial name
Cephalotes persimplex
De Andrade, 1999

De Andrade 1999 Cephalotes OCR - Copy-452 Cephalotes-persimplex.jpg

Nothing is known about the biology of Cephalotes persimplex.


A member of the grandinosus clade characterised in the worker and soldier by the body with thick, whitish hairs, and, in the gyne, by the frontal carinae almost without crenulation and hairs. C. persimplex can be distinguished from Cephalotes grandinosus by the smaller foveae on the cephalic dorsum and by the broad whitish body hairs. Cephalotes persimilis and ' Cephalotes persimplex share in the workers the vertexal angles obtuse and narrowly membranaceous, the frontal carinae little crenulate and weakly upturned over the eyes, and, in the soldiers and gynes, the foveae on the cephalic disc regular. C. persimplex workers of persimilis are recognised from those of persimplex by the curved and thinner body hairs and by the mesosoma with irregular foveae superimposed by longitudinal rugosities. The soldiers of persimplex differ from those of persimilis by the floor of the disc more concave and with raised border, by the thicker and denser appressed hairs and by the superficially crenulate border of the disc; the gynes of persimplex differ from those of persimilis by the thicker hairs, by the less convex head dorsum and by the weakly crenulate frontal carinae. (de Andrade and Baroni Urbani 1999)

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Bolivia (type locality), Brazil.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


The biology of many Cephalotes species is not known. Ants in this genus are common in the New World tropics and subtropics and are especially abundant and diverse in the canopies of Neotropical forests. The majority of species are arboreal. Species that live in other strata inhabit smaller trees, bushes or grass stems. These noon-arboreal species, due to their accessibility, are among the better studied members of the genus. There are also species that can be found in downed wood but it is likely the wood housed the colony before it fell to the ground. Soil nests are not known for any species nor do most species appear to extensively excavate plant tissue. They nest instead in preformed cavities. Overall, ants in the genus utilize a wide range of plants. Some species are predictable in their plant use but none appear to have evolved specialized mutualisms with particular plant species.

Worker castes typically include two forms, a worker and soldier, but there are a few species that are monomorphic. The larger soldier caste typically has an enlarged head disk. In some species the head of the soldier is very different from the worker while in others these differences are less pronounced. Queens and soldiers tend to share similar head morphology. Soldiers use their heads to plug the nest entrance. This can be very effective in excluding potential intruders. Other morphological differences between the worker castes are present but these differences have not been studied as well as head moprhology.

The behavioral repertoire of Cephalotes varians has been examined in great detail (ethograms from Wilson 1976, Cole 1980 and Cole 1983). Soldiers do little else besides defend the nest. This specialized soldier behavior is presumed to be the norm for most species. An especially interesting behavior occurs when workers are dislodged from trees: they "fly" towards the tree, often grabbing the trunk well above the ground (video).

Mature nest size varies, by species, from less than a hundred to many thousands of workers. Available evidence suggests most species are monogynous. Queens may mate with multiple males.

The proventriculus of the Cephalotes is peculiar relative to other ants. The morphology of the structure suggests it serves as a powerful pump and filter. This does not appear to lead these ants to have a highly specialized diet as most species appear to be general scavengers. Foragers have been observed feeding on carrion, bird feces, extrafloral nectaries and even tending membracids. Pollen feeding has been observed in some species, and this is somewhat specialized for ants, but it is not evident that any species restricts its diet to this resource in any significant way. Evidence for pollen feeding in Cephalotes has accumulated, in part, via finding digested pollen grains seen in infrabucal pellets. It has been suggested that the morphology of the proventriculus is a specialization for processing pollen.

More research examining all aspects of the biology of Cephalotes is needed. Our present understanding of these ants is largely based on species that live in locations other than the forest canopy, which is where Cephalotes are most common and diverse.



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

  • persimplex. Cephalotes persimplex De Andrade, in De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 449, figs. 205-208 (s.w.q.) BOLIVIA.

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



Head subquadrate; frons convex in the middle. Frontal carinae covering large part of the mandibles, slightly upturned above the eyes. Vertexal angles membranaceous, obtuse, converging and narrowing before the middle of the vertexal border. Mandibles with thick, with a lateral carina visible in side view.

Mesosoma gently convex. Scapular angles absent or not visible in dorsal view. Anterior pronotal border straight; pronotal sides with a broad membranaceous expansion, anteriorly obtuse to truncate and narrowing posteriorly. Promesonotal suture absent. Mesonotum with a pair of long, triangular, membranaceous teeth wider than the pronotal lamellae posteriorly. Propodeal suture impressed. Declivous face of the propodeum gently sloping backwards. Basal and declivous propodeal faces with a broad membranaceous expansion, the border starting on the beginning of the basal face and strongly projected anteriorly, almost reaching the mesonotal spines and broadening backwards.

Petiole with concave anterior face laterally marked by a pair of round denticles; petiolar dorsum sloping anteriorly. Sides of the petiole with a broad, wing-shaped, membranaceous expansion with round tip. Postpetiole slightly convex dorsally; postpetiolar sides with another broad, wing-shaped, membranaceous border with round tip.

Gaster oval. First gastral tergite anterolaterally with a broad, membranaecous border reaching the stigma.

Mid and hind femora angulate; hind femora with two membranaceous crests on the two distal thirds, one on the dorsal face and another on the ventral face; mid femora with a short dorsal carina or a narrow membranaceous crest and ventrally with a crest as high as the one on the hind femora but shorter. Mid and hind basitarsi with flat and broad base.

Sculpture. Head dorsum, mesosoma and peduncular segments superficially punctate, with dense, small, foveae broader than their inters paces, sparser on the frontal carinae and smaller on the border of the head dorsum, and on the pedicel. Ventral face of the head with the same type of sculpture as on the dorsum but the foveae less dense and the punctures more impressed. Concavity of the declivous face of the propodeum with faint, longitudinal rugosities. Gaster and legs punctate and densely covered by superficial, small foveae; the punctures less impressed on the posterior half of the first gastral sternite. Anterior third of the first gastral segment with thin, longitudinal rugosities. Pleurae reticulate and with superficial foveae and thin, longitudinal, rugosities. Membranaceous border of mesosoma, pedicel and gaster punctate and with thin, longitudinal rugosities.

Pilosity. Each fovea with an appressed, broad hair; similar hairs but not originating from the foveae on the membranaceous borders of the body. Frontal carinae over the eyes and posterior part of the gastral sternites with sparse, clubbed hairs. The sternites bear, in addition a few long, thin, slightly pointed hairs.

Colour. Body light brown with whitish appearance due to the white pilosity. Frontal carinae opaque yellow. Membranaceous borders of the body equally whitish and semitransparent. Tarsi brown.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 3.80-4.88 HL 0.88-1.08; HW 1.04-1.28; EL 0.27-0.32; PW 0.96-1.24; PeW 0.56-0.76; PpW 0.56-0.80; HBaL 0.27-0.35; HBaW 0.12-0.14; CI 118.2-118.5; PI 103.2-108.3; PPeI 163.1-171.4; PPpI 155.0-171.4; HBaI 40.0-44.4.


Head disc subquadrate, with raised and differentiate border; sides of the disc not covering completely the eyes and broadening anteriorly. Floor of the disc concave with a short tumulus in the middle. Vertexal angles obtuse, completely separate from the disc and with well marked border. Mandibles laterally carinate and partially hidden by the frontal carinae.

Mesosoma. Anterior pronotal border straight. Humeral angles with a broad, obtuse, membranaceous border with straight sides posteriorly up to the middle of the pronotal sides where it continues into the pronotal carina. Posterior half of the pronotal sides strongly converging. Pronotal carina developed, each half posteriorly convex and diminishing in height towards the middle of the pronotum. Pronotal suture, on the dorsum, impressed on the sides only. Promesonotal suture deeply impressed. Mesonotal sides with a pair of broad, triangular teeth followed by a pair of thin, pointed, membranaceous denticles. Propodeum with differentiate basal and declivous faces; sides of the basal face with a membranaceous border, the border forming anteriorly a pair of obtuse teeth directed anteriorly, followed by a short notch and by a convexity converging posteriorly into a pair of small denticles. Declivous face of the propodeum narrowing posteriorly and with a membranaceous border.

Petiole with concave anterior face; wing-shaped membranaceous expansions with rounded tips arise laterally on the two anterior thirds of the petiole. Postpetiole gently convex dorsally, with similar wing-like lateral expansions as the petiole but directed anteriorly.

Gaster oval. First gastral tergite anterolaterally with a pair of broad membranaceous borders not reaching the stigma posteriorly.

Legs. As in the worker.

Sculpture. As in the worker except for the punctures, more impressed on the whole body, for the integumental foveae sparser on the head dorsum and for the anterior third of the first gastral tergite with smaller foveae.

Pilosity. As in the worker but with the anterior fourth of the first gastral tergite with hairs as broad as the one originating from each foveae, and the vertexal angles with rare hairs as the clubbed ones over the eyes.

Colour. As in the worker.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 5.32-5.38; HL 1.16-1.22; HW 1.36-1.44; EL 0.30-0.32; PW 1.40-1.48; PeW 0.70-0.76; PpW 0.68-0.72; HBaL 0.31; HBaW 0.14-0.15; CI 117.2-118.0; PI 97.1-97.3; PPeI 211.4-225.8; PPpI 205.5-205.9; HBaI 45.2-48.4.


Head disc present. Head dorsum slightly concave on its anterior half and gently convex posteriorly. Frontal carinae weakly crenulate, expanded anteriorly, converging posteriorly and connected by a slightly convex carina on the vertex. Vertex with a superficial depression between the pair ocelli. Vertexal angles broad, obtuse and marginate. Eyes visible in full dorsal view. Ocelli remote from the posterior border of the head disc. Anterior clypeal border concave. Mandibles with a lateral carina and partially hidden by the frontal cannae.

Mesosoma. Anterior pronotal border gently convex. Humeral angles with a pair of round, broad, membranaceous teeth converging posteriorly and connected with a faint pronotal carina often shortly interrupted in the middle. Pronotal sides posterior to the angles straight. Promesonotal suture impressed. Lower mesoplcurac with a denticle. Mesonotum and scutellum flat. Propodeum with differentiate basal and declivous faces; sides of the basal face strongly convex and ending in a stout, round tooth posteriorly; declivous face converging posteriorly and with a narrow membranaceous border.

Anterior face of the petiole concave; petiolar dorsum gently sloping anteriorly; petiolar sides with a narrow, convex membranaceous border. Postpetiole convex; anterior half of its sides with a pair of round teeth directed anteriorly.

Gaster with a pair of lobes protruding anteriorly.

Legs. Fore coxae angulate anteriorly. Hind femora gently curved dorsally and superficially carinate on the distal part of the dorsum; posterior margin of the ventral face of the mid and hind femora with a narrow, membranaceous crest. Mid and hind basitarsi flat, with broad base.

Sculpture. Head dorsum superficially punctate, with dense, small, deep, round foveae diminishing in size anteriorly. Frontal carinae punctate and with rare, superficial foveae. Ventral part of the head and propleurae with superficial, irregular foveae, the foveae denser on the ventral sides of the head. Pronotum punctate with much denser foveae on the sides than on the middle. Mesonotum and scutellum with similar foveae as on the head dorsum but sparser and diminishing in size on the posterior half of the scutellum. Basal face of the propodeum, pedicel and upper mesopleurae densely covered by deep, small foveae. Declivous face of the propodeum and lower meso- and metapleurae punctate and with thin, longitudinal rugosities. First gastral segments densely reticulate; their anterior third with thin, irregular, longitudinal rugosities and with piligerous foveae larger and denser than on its remaining surface; the reticulation less impressed on the posterior half of the first gastral sternite. Legs reticulate and with sparse piligerous foveae.

Pilosity. Each fovea with an appressed, broad hair. Frontal carinae over the eyes, vertexal angles, mesosoma, pedicel, first gastral tergite and legs with rare, suberect, clubbed hairs; similar hairs but longer on the apex of the gaster. Sternites, distally, with long, sparse, thin, slightly pointed hairs.

Colour. Light brown. Frontal carinae yellowish-opaque and semitransparent. Tarsi brown. First gastral tergite with a pair of dark brown maculae on the middle of the dorsum faintly connected medially.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 7.26-8.12; HL 1.32-1.40; HW 1.40; EL 0.34-0.37; PW 1.30-1.36; PeW 0.56-0.64; PpW 0.74-0.84; HBaL 0.44; HBaW 0.16; CI 100.0-106.1; PI 102.9-107.7; PPeI 212.5-232.1; PPpI 161.9-175.7; HBaI 36.4.

Type Material

Holotype worker, Reyes, Bolivia, Oct. 1921-22, Mulford Biol. Exp., W. M. Mann National Museum of Natural History; paratypes 8 workers, 3 soldiers, 1 gyne USNM, 1 worker, 1 soldier and 1 gyne, all same data as the holotype (Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo).


From the Latin persimplex = very easy (Tacitus), referred to the facility with which this species can be separated from C. grandinosus with which it had been confused.


  • de Andrade, M. L.; Baroni Urbani, C. 1999. Diversity and adaptation in the ant genus Cephalotes, past and present. Stuttgarter Beitrage zur Naturkunde Series B (Geolgie and Palaontologie). 271:1-889.(page 449, figs. 205-208 soldier, worker, queen described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • de Andrade, M.L. & C. Baroni Urbani. 1999. Diversity and Adaptation in the ant genus Cephalotes, past and present. Stuttgarter Beitrage zur Naturkunde Serie B 271. 893 pages, Stuttgart