Ectatomma ruidum

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Ectatomma ruidum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ectatomminae
Tribe: Ectatommini
Genus: Ectatomma
Species: E. ruidum
Binomial name
Ectatomma ruidum
(Roger, 1860)

Ectatomma ruidum casent0178705 profile 1.jpg

Ectatomma ruidum casent0178705 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Prefers nesting in open areas, where this ant can occur in high density. These ants have a subset of foragers that specialise on food robbing, where individuals will enter other colonies' nests to steal their food.

At a Glance • Facultatively polygynous  



Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 24.52827° to -24.356°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Brazil (type locality), Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, 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.


When alarmed, workers will feign death.

McGlynn et al. (2015) provided evidence to suggest thieves, stealing food from their non-natal nest, are a distinct caste of workers that specialize in this behavior. They also nicely summarize what is known about this behavior in this species.

In E. ruidum, intraspecific thievery among adjacent colonies is readily observed (Guénard and McGlynn, 2013). Ectatomma ruidum thieves specialize in stealing food from another colony (i.e. the ‘victim nest’); the cuticular hydrocarbon profile of thieves is intermediate between the colony to which they are bringing food and the colony from which they are removing food, presumably obfuscating nestmate recognition cues, and thieves are not known to switch to a nonthieving foraging habit (Breed et al., 1992; Jeral, Breed, and Hibbard, 1997). Thievery is thought to be evolutionarily stable only at low frequencies (Brockmann & Barnard, 1979; Ruxton and Broom, 1999), but thieving is a common activity in E. ruidum colonies, at least in Costa Rica and Panama (Breed, McGlynn, Stocker, and Klein,1999). Like other social insects, colonies of E. ruidum are less vigilant against interlopers when food is relatively abundant in the environment (Guénard and McGlynn, 2013).

Thievery in E. ruidum is uniquely overt and widespread, and is undetected in other ant species. Intraspecific kleptoparasitic behaviour in E. ruidum persists despite the fact that colonies are more vigilant against thieves when more thieving occurs (Jandt, Hunt, and McGlynn, 2015). It is broadly accepted that the ecological success of social insect colonies emerges from the collective ability to acquire resources and defend them from competitors. Thievery within E. ruidum suggests very poor abilities in protecting resources, but this species is nevertheless among the most widespread and locally abundant ants in the Neotropics (Schatz and Lachaud, 2008). To address this apparent contradiction, we wish to understand how foragers that act as thieves and collect resources from the insides of neighbouring nests are distinct from ‘normal’ (nonthief) foragers that collect resources from the surrounding leaf litter.

As regards the findings of their study of thieves as a distinctive type of worker, they found: Every colony of E. ruidum simultaneously maintains individuals that collect the same type of food item, but with two distinct foraging strategies. Workers of these foraging types are behaviourally distinct from one another but rely upon a common pool of food resources. The disparate behaviours that make up these two strategies effectively serve to repartition the original pool of resources gained during primary foraging. The first foraging strategy is ‘normal’, with workers that collect food from within their territories. These individuals find food within the home range, walk in a straight line back to the nest, encounter other ants along the way, interact with them, and carry on in a nonchalant fashion. The second foraging strategy is thievery, in which workers collect food from inside a colony that is outside their own colony's home range. These individuals walk more slowly, pause more frequently and avoid encountering conspecifics en route. These individuals are also more prone to reverse direction when perturbed and to drop their pilfered food items when grabbed.


Dominguez-Haydar et al. (2018) - Nest density was assessed in rehabilitated areas of “Cerrejón” coal mine (Colombia). We tested whether there is a relationship between spatial distribution pattern, age rehabilitation and temporal changes. Three sites with different ages of rehabilitation (1, 9 and 20 years) and a secondary forest were sampled during dry and rainy seasons. Within four plots (6 x 40m) per site, we located, counted and estimated the minimum distance among nests. Our results indicated that the number of active nests varied according to sites and sampling season, 166 nests ha-1 (forest) and 1333 nests ha-1 (9-y site). Our results indicated that the nest distribution strongly depended on the scale of observation. A uniform distribution pattern was also found, mainly at the local scale (plot level), while an aggregated and random distribution was found at the site level. We conclude that ant density responded mostly to seasonal changes (dry versus wet season).


Meza-Lazaro et al. (2018) - We assembled mitogenomes from 21 ant workers assigned to four morphospecies (E. ruidum spp. 1-4) and putative hybrids of the Ectatomma ruidum complex (E. ruidum spp. 2x3), and to Ectatomma tuberculatum using NGS data. Mitogenomes from specimens of E. ruidum spp. 3, 4 and 2 x 3 had a high proportion of polymorphic sites. We investigated whether polymorphisms in mitogenomes are due to nuclear mt paralogues (numts) or due to the presence of more than one mitogenome within an individual (heteroplasmy). We did not find loss of function signals in polymorphic protein-coding genes, and observed strong evidence for purifying selection in two haplotype-phased genes, which indicate the presence of two functional mitochondria' genomes coexisting within individuals instead of numts. Heteroplasmy due to hybrid paternal leakage is not supported by phylogenetic analyses. Our results reveal the presence of a fast-evolving secondary mitochondrial lineage of uncertain origin in the E. ruidum complex.

Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Source:; Kaspari et al., 2001.

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Kapala iridicolor (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (multiple encounter modes; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Kapala izapa (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (multiple encounter modes; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Isomerala azteca (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Isomerala coronata (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Kapala sulcifacies (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).
  • This species is a host for the fungus Beauveria bassiana (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission within nest).
  • This species is a host for the phorid fly Apocephalus paraponerae (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a host for the phorid fly Apocephalus glabriventris (a parasite) ( (attacked).
  • This species is a prey for the Microdon fly Microdon sp. (a predator) (Quevillon, 2018).
  • This species is a host for the nematode Meximermis ectatommi (a parasite) in Mexico (Poinar et al., 2006) (see also Weber, 1946 (Trinidad)).

Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: 125 (Lachaud et al., 1984; Beckers et al., 1989)
  • Foraging behaviour: solitary forager (Lachaud et al., 1984; Beckers et al., 1989)



EctatommaEconomo-header (  X-ray micro-CT scan 3D model of Ectatomma ruidum (worker) prepared by the Economo lab at OIST.

These ants from South American are specialised thiefs that steal food from other ant colonies. See on Sketchfab. See list of 3D images.


Queen microgynes — an isometric reduction of the large morph — are only known from Mexico (Lachaud et al. 1999a, b). Microgyny in this species is related to polygyny and dependent colony founding (Lachaud et al. 1999a, b; Lenoir et al. 2011). Young mated microgynes are readopted by a conspecific colony, most often their natal nest, and can contribute to colony growth by egg laying. These small queens represent one of two independently derived queen reductions in the genus (Nettel-Hernanz et al. 2015).


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

  • ruidum. Ponera (Ectatomma) ruida Roger, 1860: 306 (w.q.) BRAZIL (no state data), FRENCH GUIANA, COLOMBIA.
    • Type-material: 1 syntype worker, 3 syntype queens.
    • Type-locality: Colombia (by restriction of Kugler & Brown, 1982: 2).
    • [Note: Roger originally recorded three countries, without any further data: Brazil, Colombia, and French Guiana (Cayenne).]
    • Type-depository: MNHU.
    • Borgmeier, 1934: 95 (m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1952a: 131 (l.).
    • Combination in Ectatomma: Mayr, 1862: 732; Roger, 1863b: 17;
    • combination in Ectatomma (Ectatomma): Mayr, 1887: 539.
    • Status as species: Mayr, 1862: 732; Roger, 1862c: 292; Roger, 1863b: 17; Mayr, 1863: 459; Emery, 1890b: 40; Dalla Torre, 1893: 26; Emery, 1894k: 47; Forel, 1895b: 112; Pergande, 1896: 871; Forel, 1899c: 6; Forel, 1899d: 273; Forel, 1907e: 1; Forel, 1908b: 38; Emery, 1911d: 43; Forel, 1912c: 30; Forel, 1914e: 9; Mann, 1916: 405; Wheeler, W.M. 1916d: 323; Wheeler, W.M. 1922c: 3; Mann, 1922: 6; Borgmeier, 1923: 58; Santschi, 1931c: 265; Wheeler, W.M. 1933a: 62; Borgmeier, 1934: 95; Weber, 1946a: 7; Weber, 1948b: 79; Brown, 1958g: 209; Kempf, 1961b: 491; Kempf, 1972a: 105; Kugler, C. & Brown, 1982: 2; Fernández, 1991: 554 (in key); Bolton, 1995b: 187; Arias-Penna, 2008b: 64; Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012: 254; Feitosa, 2015c: 97; Feitosa & Prada-Achiardi, 2019: 666; Camacho, Franco, Branstetter, et al. 2022: 10.
    • Senior synonym of aztecum: Kugler, C. & Brown, 1982: 2; Brandão, 1991: 342; Bolton, 1995b: 187.
    • Senior synonym of scabrosa: Roger, 1862c: 292; Mayr, 1863: 459; Mayr, 1887: 539; Dalla Torre, 1893: 26; Forel, 1895b: 112; Pergande, 1896: 871; Forel, 1899c: 6; Emery, 1911d: 43; Borgmeier, 1923: 58; Weber, 1946a: 7; Kempf, 1972a: 105; Bolton, 1995b: 187.
    • Distribution: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname, Trinidad, Venezuela.
  • aztecum. Ectatomma aztecum Emery, 1901a: 50 (w.) MEXICO (Michoacan).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: Mexico: Michoacán (no collector’s name).
    • Type-depository: MSNG.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1911d: 42; Brown, 1958g: 208, 295; Kempf, 1972a: 104.
    • Junior synonym of ruidum: Kugler, C. & Brown, 1982: 2; Brandão, 1991: 342; Bolton, 1995b: 186.
  • scabrosa. Ectatomma scabrosa Smith, F. 1862b: 31 (w.) PANAMA.
    • Type-material: 3 syntype workers.
    • Type-locality: Panama: 13 (no further data) (Stretch?).
    • Type-depository: BMNH.
    • Junior synonym of ruidum: Roger, 1862c: 292; Mayr, 1863: 459; Mayr, 1887: 539; Dalla Torre, 1893: 26; Forel, 1895b: 112; Pergande, 1896: 871; Forel, 1899c: 6; Emery, 1911d: 43; Borgmeier, 1923: 58; Weber, 1946a: 7; Kempf, 1972a: 105; Bolton, 1995b: 187.
  • strigosum. Ectatomma opaciventre var. strigosum Emery, 1894c: 144 (w.) BOLIVIA.
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: Bolivia: (no further data) (L. Balzan).
    • Type-depository: MSNG.
    • [Junior primary homonym of Ectatomma araneoides var. strigosum Emery, 1887b: 444.]
    • Subspecies of opaciventre: Forel, 1908c: 342.
    • Status as species: Forel, 1909a: 265; Emery, 1911d: 43; Luederwaldt, 1918: 34; Borgmeier, 1923: 58; Menozzi, 1935b: 190; Eidmann, 1936a: 33.
    • Replacement name: Ectatomma opaciventre var. permagna Forel, 1908c: 342.
    • [Note: permagna junior synonym of strigosum Emery, 1894c: 144 (synonymy by Brown, 1958g: 209); hence permagna first available replacement name.]

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Ectatomma scabrosa

Three worker syntypes in The Natural History Museum. The syntypes are flat-mounted, each on a roughly hexagonal piece of card. Along the basal border, behind the pin, is “Panama,” and on the reverse of the card the number “13.”



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