Eciton vagans angustatum

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Eciton vagans angustatum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Eciton
Species: E. vagans
Subspecies: E. vagans angustatum
Trinomial name
Eciton vagans angustatum
Roger, 1863





Jack Longino:

Minor worker: head, mesosoma, and metasoma maroon, metasoma somewhat lighter; occipital tooth present; petiolar teeth well developed, narrow and acute, flattened, and with ventral carinae extending to variable extent onto posterior face of propodeum, these ventral carinae separate, never fused medially; petiole short and hump-shaped, with prominent anterodorsal flange; fourth abdominal tergite with short, sparse appressed pubescence beneath erect setae.

Major worker: face densely micropunctate, matte; long sickle-shaped mandibles simple, without broad tooth on inner margin; other characters as in minor.


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 18.583925° to 10.3°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

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

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.



Jack Longino: This species occurs in dry forest and wet forest habitats. On the Atlantic slope I have not found it above about 800m elevation, but it occurs up to about 1400m (Monteverde) on the Pacific slope.

Raiding is always in columns, never in a carpet like Eciton burchellii. Raiding is almost always nocturnal. In quantitative surveys of Eciton activity at La Selva, angustatum is the only species that is clearly nocturnal, being rarely enccountered during the day and suddenly becoming the most commonly encountered species at night.

Prey of angustatum is largely other ants, and they show a strong predilection for the ponerine genus Odontomachus. I have observed angustatum with Odontomachus prey ten times, out of a total of 28 field observations of columns. They are not strict specialists on Odontomachus, because I have also seen them with Pheidole and Aphaenogaster prey, and once a column came to a blacklight sheet and harvested diverse insects from the base of the sheet.




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

  • angustatum. Eciton angustata Roger, 1863a: 204 (w.) MEXICO (Yucatan).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: Mexico: Yucatan, Campeche Bay (no collector’s name).
    • Type-depository: MNHU.
    • Wheeler, W.M. 1912e: 207 (m.); Menozzi, 1931d: 188 (q.).
    • Combination in E. (Eciton): Emery, 1910b: 20;
    • combination in E. (Holopone): Santschi, 1925b: 11.
    • Status as species: Roger, 1863b: 36; Mayr, 1863: 459; Mayr, 1865: 77 (in key); Mayr, 1886b: 116 (in key); Dalla Torre, 1893: 1; Forel, 1899c: 25; Emery, 1910b: 20.
    • Subspecies of burchellii: Emery, 1900a: 185.
    • Junior synonym of vagans: Borgmeier, 1939: 405.
    • Subspecies of vagans: Borgmeier, 1955: 240 (redescription); Kempf, 1972a: 103; Bolton, 1995b: 184.
    • Senior synonym of brunnea: Borgmeier, 1955: 229; Kempf, 1972a: 103; Bolton, 1995b: 184.
    • Distribution: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico.
  • brunnea. Eciton brunnea Norton, 1868c: 6 (w.) MEXICO (Veracruz).
    • Type-material: 5 syntype workers.
    • Type-locality: Mexico: “Cordova, Orizaba, etc.” (Sumichrast).
    • [Note: localities from Norton, 1868a: 45.]
    • Type-depository: USNM.
    • [Eciton brunnea Norton, 1868a: 62. Nomen nudum.]
    • Junior synonym of rapax: Norton, 1868b: 45.
    • Junior synonym of burchellii: Forel, 1899c: 23.
    • Junior synonym of vagans: Emery, 1910b: 21; Borgmeier, 1923: 40.
    • Junior synonym of angustatum: Borgmeier, 1955: 229; Kempf, 1972a: 103; Bolton, 1995b: 184.

Taxonomic Notes

Borgmeier (1955) discussed at some length the subspecies structure of Eciton vagans. He found a disconcerting situation in material from Costa Rica. One queen from the San José area had typical postpetiolar horns, but another collection from near San José and a collection from Hamburg Farm, in the Atlantic lowlands, lacked them. The lack of petiolar horns was unique in Borgmeier's experience and caused him to consider the horned and hornless versions to be two different subspecies, angustatum and Eciton vagans mutatum, respectively. It was disconcerting to him because by most definitions of subspecies they could not be sympatric. He also found a distinction in the males, with angustatum having scutellar furrows indistinct or absent and mutatum having scutellar furrows deep and broad. He also described a small difference in the workers, with angustatum having a pronounced anteroventral postpetiolar tooth and mutatum having the tooth reduced or absent. Eciton vagans angustatum was a previously described taxon, with type locality Mexico, and he described mutatum as a new taxon, with the San José queen as the holotype.

I have not seen any queens of the vagans complex and have not investigated variation in the males. But among the many worker collections I have examined I see considerable variation in the postpetiolar tooth and no indication of discrete character states. Until further evidence to the contrary I consider all Costa Rican material to be one form, E. vagans angustatum. The relationship to E. vagans s. str., from South America, remains uninvestigated.