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Mycocepurus smithii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Mycocepurus
Forel, 1893
Type species
Atta (Mycocepurus) smithii, now Mycocepurus smithii
6 species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)

Mycocepurus smithii casent0179467 profile 1.jpg

Mycocepurus smithii

Mycocepurus smithii casent0179467 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Evolutionary Relationships

Ochetomyrmex (2 species), Tranopelta (2 species)

Allomerus (8 species), Blepharidatta (4 species), Diaphoromyrma (1 species), Lachnomyrmex (16 species), Wasmannia (11 species)

Acanthognathus (7 species), Colobostruma (16 species), Daceton (2 species), Epopostruma (19 species), Lenomyrmex (7 species), Mesostruma (9 species), Microdaceton (4 species), Orectognathus (29 species)


  (44 species)

  (31 species)

  (6 species)


  (1 species)

  (1 species)

  (4 species)

  (2 species)

  (23 species)

  (21 species)

  (4 species)

Acromyrmex (55 species), Atta (20 species), Sericomyrmex (11 species), Trachymyrmex (9 species), Xerolitor (1 species)

Basiceros (8 species), Cephalotes (119 species), Eurhopalothrix (53 species), Octostruma (34 species), Phalacromyrmex (1 species), Pheidole (1,298 species), Pilotrochus (1 species), Procryptocerus (44 species), Protalaridris (7 species), Rhopalothrix (16 species), Strumigenys (852 species), Talaridris (1 species)

Based on Ward et al. (2014), Blaimer et al. (2018) and Li et al. (2018).

A genus of fungus growing ants. Mackay et al. (2004) - The genus Mycocepurus uses a variety of organic matter as a substrate for their fungal gardens, ranging from dry leaves and caterpillar dung (Kempf 1963) to fruit matter on the seeds of Hymenaea courbaril (Caesalpiniaceae), which facilitates germination of the plant (Oliveira et al. 1995). The genus consists of a small group (6 species) of cryptic ants, which are found from México south to Brazil and Argentina (Kempf, 1963, Mackay, 1998). Two of the species are relatively common and widely distributed from México to Argentina and Brazil, as well as the Caribbean (Mycocepurus smithii), and Guyana, Brazil and Argentina (Mycocepurus goeldii), one is known from México to Panamá (Mycocepurus curvispinosus), another from Nicaragua south to Panamá (Mycocepurus tardus), and the remaining species is presently known only from the type locality (Mycocepurus obsoletus from Santarém, Pará, Brazil). Kempf (1963) suggests that M. obsoletus may be a slightly aberrant variant of M. smithii. Rabeling and Bacci (2010) have discovered a workerless inquiline species Mycocepurus castrator that parasitizes Mycocepurus goeldii.

At a Glance • Fungus Grower  



Monomorphic ants, characterized by the numerous spines on most bodily surfaces, including a pair of occipital spines, and usually 2 to 3 pairs on the pronotum, 5 to 6 pairs on the mesonotum and 2 pairs on the propodeum, with the last pair being the most developed. The dorsum of the petiole has 2 pairs of spines. There is a definite circlet or crown of spines on the promesonotum, a feature that is not found in any other genus in the New World. (Mackay et al. 2004)

AntWeb icon 02.png See images of species within this genus



Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps


Association with Other Organisms

All Associate Records for Genus

Explore Associate Data: All, Drilldown
Click here to show/hide associate data.
Taxon Relationship Associate Type Associate Taxon Associate Relationship Locality Source Notes
Mycocepurus castrator workerless inquiline ant Mycocepurus goeldii host
Mycocepurus goeldii host ant Mycocepurus castrator workerless inquiline



Species Uncertain

  • 2n = 8, karyotype = 4M (Panama) (Murakami et al., 1998).

All Karyotype Records for Genus

Explore Data: All, Drilldown
Click here to show/hide karyotype data.
Taxon Haploid Diploid Karyotype Locality Source Notes
Mycocepurus 8 4M Panama Murakami et al., 1998
Mycocepurus goeldii 8 8M Brazil Barros et al., 2010


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

  • MYCOCEPURUS [Myrmicinae: Attini]
    • Mycocepurus Forel, 1893e: 602 [as subgenus of Atta]. Type-species: Atta (Mycocepurus) smithii, by subsequent designation of Wheeler, W.M. 1911f: 167.
    • [Mycocepurus Forel, 1893a: 164. Nomen nudum. Mycocepurus also described as new by Forel, 1893g: 369.]
    • Mycocepurus raised to genus: Wheeler, W.M. 1911f: 167.
    • Mycocepurus senior synonym of Descolemyrma: Kempf, 1963b: 417.
  • MYCETOPURUS [unavailable name]
    • Mycetopurus Santschi, 1925b: 17, incorrect subsequent spelling of Mycocepurus. Perhaps a combination in error of Myceto(phylax) + (Mycoce)purus: Bolton, 1995b: 36.
  • DESCOLEMYRMA [junior synonym of Mycocepurus]
    • Descolemyrma Kusnezov, 1951d: 460. Type-species: Descolemyrma ogloblini (junior synonym of Atta (Mycocepurus) goeldii), by monotypy.
    • Descolemyrma junior synonym of Mycocepurus: Kempf, 1963b: 418.


  • Ashmead, W. H. 1905c. A skeleton of a new arrangement of the families, subfamilies, tribes and genera of the ants, or the superfamily Formicoidea. Can. Entomol. 37: 381-384 (page 384, Mycocepurus in Cryptoceridae, Dacetonini)
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 200, Mycocepurus as genus)
  • Emery, C. 1895l. Die Gattung Dorylus Fab. und die systematische Eintheilung der Formiciden. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 8: 685-778 (page 770, Mycocepurus in Myrmicinae, Attini)
  • Emery, C. 1913c. Études sur les Myrmicinae. [V-VII.]. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 57: 250-262 (page 251, Mycocepurus in Myrmicinae, Attini; Mycocepurus as genus)
  • Emery, C. 1914e. Intorno alla classificazione dei Myrmicinae. Rend. Sess. R. Accad. Sci. Ist. Bologna Cl. Sci. Fis. (n.s.) 18: 29-42 (page 42, Mycocepurus in Myrmicinae, Attini)
  • Emery, C. 1924f [1922]. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. [concl.]. Genera Insectorum 174C: 207-397 (page 334, Mycocepurus as genus)
  • Forel, A. 1893b. Sur la classification de la famille des Formicides, avec remarques synonymiques. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 37: 161-167 (page 164, Mycocepurus nomen nudum)
  • Forel, A. 1893h. Note sur les Attini. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 37: 586-607 (page 602, Mycocepurus as subgenus of Atta)
  • Forel, A. 1893j. Formicides de l'Antille St. Vincent, récoltées par Mons. H. H. Smith. Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 1893: 333-418 (page 369, Mycocepurus also described as new; Mycocepurus in Myrmicinae; Mycocepurus as subgenus of Atta)
  • Forel, A. 1917. Cadre synoptique actuel de la faune universelle des fourmis. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 51: 229-253 (page 247, Mycocepurus in Myrmicinae, Attini; Mycocepurus as genus)
  • Kempf, W. W. 1963b. A review of the ant genus Mycocepurus Forel, 1893 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Stud. Entomol. 6: 417-432 (page 417, Mycocepurus senior synonym of Descolemyrma, and revision of genus)
  • Mackay, W. P.; Maes, J.-M.; Fernández, Patricia Rojas; Luna, G. 2004. The ants of North and Central America: the genus Mycocepurus (Hymenoptera : Formicidae). Journal of Insect Science (Tucson) 4(27): 1-7.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1907d. The fungus-growing ants of North America. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 23: 669-807 (page 670, Mycocepurus as subgenus of Atta)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 141, Mycocepurus in Myrmicinae, Attini; Mycocepurus as subgenus of Atta)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1911g. A list of the type species of the genera and subgenera of Formicidae. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 21: 157-175 (page 167, Type-species: Atta (Mycocepurus) smithii, by subsequent designation; Mycocepurus as genus)
  • 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 669, Mycocepurus in Myrmicinae, Attini; Mycocepurus as genus)