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Hylomyrma balzani
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Pogonomyrmecini
Genus: Hylomyrma
Forel, 1912
Type species
Pogonomyrmex (Hylomyrma) columbicus, now Hylomyrma columbica
16 species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)

Hylomyrma balzani casent0173968 profile 1.jpg

Hylomyrma balzani

Hylomyrma balzani casent0173968 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Evolutionary Relationships

  (2 genera)


  (3 species)

  (16 species)

  (74 species)

  (7 genera)

  (22 genera)

  (49 genera)

  (65 genera)

Based on Ward et al. (2014), Johnson & Moreau (2016)

A little known denizen of tropical leaf litter communities. There has only been one collection of a colony of this genus.

Photo Gallery

  • Hylomyrma balzani nest in dead wood. The tiny nest contained only 2 workers with brood. Florianopolis, Brazil. Photo by Philipp Hönle.
  • Hylomyrma montana workers found in leaf-litter at higher elevations above 600m. Ecuador. Photo by Philipp Hönle.
  • Hylomyrma montana worker found in leaf-litter, carrying another worker from her nest. Ecuador. Photo by Philipp Hönle.


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Keys including this Genus

Keys to Subgenera or Species Groups in this Genus

Keys to Species in this Genus


Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


Pierce et al. (2017) - Little is known about the biology and natural history of Hylomyrma. The genus is restricted to wet forests, mostly lowland rainforest, where it is a member of the cryptic leaf litter ant community. It is known almost exclusively from Winkler and Berlese samples (J.T. Longino, unpubl.), and observations of nesting or foraging habits are extremely limited. A colony was discovered by E.O. Wilson in Veracruz, Mexico, and kept in an artificial nest for observation. He observed that "In captivity workers of this species captured Drosophila spp., Isotoma viridis Bourlet [Collembola], and a few other small insects offered them in the food chamber, and fed them directly to the larvae" (quoted in Wheeler & Wheeler 1960: p. 4). As far as we know, this is still the only published reference to a colony of Hylomyrma. At the time of the 1973 revision, Kempf had perhaps fewer than 100 specimens to examine. Since that time, mass collecting techniques and large faunal surveys, mainly in Central America, have yielded thousands of specimens from many localities.

Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: 16 (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Compound colony type: not parasitic (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Nest site: hypogaeic (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Diet class: omnivore (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Foraging stratum: subterranean/leaf litter (Greer et al., 2021)



Worker Morphology

• Antennal segment count: 12 • Antennal club: 4 • Palp formula: 4,3 • Total dental count: 5-7 • Spur formula: 1 simple-pectinate, 1 barbulate-pectinate • Eyes: 11-100 ommatidia • Pronotal Spines: absent • Mesonotal Spines: absent • Propodeal Spines: present • Petiolar Spines: absent • Caste: none or weak • Sting: present • Metaplural Gland: present • Cocoon: absent

Male Morphology

 • Antennal segment count 13 • Antennal club 0 • Palp formula 4,3 • Total dental count 4-6 • Spur formula 1 pectinate, 1 pectinate


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

  • HYLOMYRMA [Myrmicinae: Myrmicini]
    • Hylomyrma Forel, 1912g: 16 [as subgenus of Pogonomyrmex]. Type-species: Pogonomyrmex (Hylomyrma) columbicus, by original designation.
    • Hylomyrma raised to genus: Wheeler, W.M. 1922a: 660 (in key).
    • Hylomyrma senior synonym of Lundella: Brown, 1953h: 3.
  • LUNDELLA [junior synonym of Hylomyrma]
    • Lundella Emery, 1915i: 191. Type-species: Tetramorium reitteri, by original designation.
    • Lundella junior synonym of Hylomyrma: Brown, 1953h: 3.

Pierce et al. (2017) - Hylomyrma is an exclusively Neotropical ant genus that occurs from southern Mexico to Argentina. Originally described as a subgenus within Pogonomyrmex it was elevated to generic status by Wheeler (1922). Hylomyrma has always been considered a close relative of Pogonomyrmex, and this was convincingly demonstrated in recent molecular studies (Brady & al. 2006, Ward & al. 2015, Branstetter & al. 2017). The only thorough species-level revision was by Kempf (1973), in which twelve species were recognized. The genus has received little attention since Kempf's revision, with only one additional species being described (Kutter 1977). Despite there being few studies, there is little doubt of the monophyly of Hylomyrma.


  • Borgmeier, T. 1927c. Catalogo systematico e synonymico das formigas do Brasil. 2 parte. Subf. Pseudomyrminae, Myrmicinae, Formicidae. Arch. Mus. Nac. (Rio J.) 29: 69-164 (page 77, Hylomyrma as genus)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1953h. Characters and synonymies among the genera of ants. Part II. Breviora 18: 1-8. (page 3, Hylomyrma as genus ; Hylomyrma senior synonym of Lundella)
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1943g. A list of the type-species of the genera and subgenera of the Formicidae. [part]. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 11(10): 617-688 (page 651, Hylomyrma as subgenus of Pogonomyrmex)
  • Emery, C. 1921c. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [part]. Genera Insectorum 174A:1-94 94: 1-94 + 7 (page 49, Hylomyrma in Myrmicinae, Myrmicini; Hylomyrma as subgenus of Pogonomyrmex)
  • Forel, A. 1912h. Formicides néotropiques. Part IV. 3me sous-famille Myrmicinae Lep. (suite). Mém. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 20: 1-32 (page 16, Hylomyrma as subgenus of Pogonomyrmex)
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 240, Hylomyrma as subgenus of Pogonomyrmex)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1964e. Miscellaneous studies on Neotropical ants. III. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. 7: 45-71 (page 54, Hylomyrma as genus)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1973b. A revision of the Neotropical myrmicine ant genus Hylomyrma Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. 16: 225-260 (page 225, Revision of genus)
  • Kusnezov, N. 1951e. El género Pogonomyrmex Mayr (Hym., Formicidae). Acta Zool. Lilloana 11: 227-333 (page 245, Hylomyrma as subgenus of Pogonomyrmex)
  • Kusnezov, N. 1956a. Claves para la identificación de las hormigas de la fauna argentina. Idia 104- 105: 1-56 (page 18, Hylomyrma as subgenus of Pogonomyrmex)
  • Pierce, M.P., Branstetter, M.G., Longino, J.T. 2017. Integrative taxonomy reveals multiple cryptic species within Central American Hylomyrma FOREL, 1912 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News. 25:131-143.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1922i. Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45: 631-710 (page 660, Hylomyrma raised to genus (in key); Hylomyrma in Myrmicinae, Myrmicini; Hylomyrma as genus)