Solenopsis zeteki

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Solenopsis zeteki
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Solenopsidini
Genus: Solenopsis
Species complex: molesta
Species: S. zeteki
Binomial name
Solenopsis zeteki
Wheeler, W.M., 1942

Solenopsis zeteki inbiocri001237572 p 1 high.jpg


Solenopsis zeteki nests in the ground, are found loose on vegetation and are collected in bait traps (surface, subterranean and vegetation Vienna sausage) and pitfall traps from 110-1000 m. In Panama, S. zeteki was taken from a colony nesting in a cauline swelling of Cordia alliodora (Wheeler 1942). In Puerto Rico, S. zeteki was collected in old termite galleries in a dead branch of Leucaena leucocephala (Snelling 2001). It occurs in arid shrubland in Mexico and Colombia. (Pacheco and Mackay 2013)


A New World thief ant that is a member of the molesta species complex. (Key to New World Solenopsis Species Complexes)

Pacheco and Mackay (2013) – Worker - This species is pale yellow with the lateral clypeal teeth reduced to blunt angles and the extralateral teeth absent. The eyes are relatively large with the length greater than 0.030 mm. The minor funicular segments are short, typically less than 0.10 mm in total length. The propodeum, petiole and postpetiole are smooth and shiny lacking any sculpturing. Queen - The queen is small and pale yellow. The lateral clypeal teeth are not well developed and are present as blunt angles. The mesosomal sculpture is smooth and shiny. What is striking about this species is the large eye (0.192 mm length and 0.156 mm diameter) for such a small gyne and separates it from most other species of the molesta group.

The Solenopsis zeteki worker is similar to that of Solenopsis corticalis in coloration, the short minor funicular segments and weakly developed lateral clypeal teeth. However, the worker of S. zeteki is easily separated in having a much larger eye. If queens are available, the queen of S. zeteki is easily recognized as it has a large eye (0.192 mm maximum diameter), which covers about 1/2 of the side of the head, compared to the much smaller eye of the queen of S. corticalis.

The small lateral clypeal teeth could cause confusion of this species with Solenopsis azteca (especially in the Caribbean). However, S. zeteki can be distinguished from S. azteca as it has a longer scape and a triangular petiolar node (more robust and rounded in S. azteca).

This species is difficult to separate from Solenopsis pollux. It is usually slightly smaller, but can be approximately equal in size. The lateral clypeal teeth of S. pollux are well developed and the extralateral processes are developed at least into an angle. The lateral teeth are usually absent in S. zeteki, but may be developed into small angles. The extralateral angles of S. zeteki are absent or developed into a wide, slightly expanded area. Specimens from Colombia are somewhat intermediate between the two, in having small, extralateral teeth, but have much less developed lateral clypeal teeth and are considered to be S. zeteki.

The specimens from Mexico are nearly identical to those of the type series, except for being slightly darker in coloration and although no queens were collected, these workers will be considered to be S. zeteki.

Keys including this Species


Mexico (Veracruz) south to Colombia, Puerto Rico (Mona Island) and Saint Croix.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 20.4766° to 3.224566°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Anguilla, Barbados, Colombia, Costa Rica, Grenada, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama (type locality), Puerto Rico (type locality), Saint Martin (French part), United States Virgin Islands.

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.




Males have yet to be collected.


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

  • zeteki. Solenopsis zeteki Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 204 (w.) PANAMA.
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Pacheco & Mackay, 2013: 363), 19 paralectotype workers.
    • [Note: Pacheco & Mackay, 2013: 363, also designate 4 paralectotype queens, but this caste was not mentioned in the original description.]
    • Type-locality: lectotype Panama: Canal Zone, Chivachiva trail, nr Red Tank (no collector’s name, presumably W.M. Wheeler); paralectotypes with same data.
    • Type-depository: MCZC.
    • Status as species: Ettershank, 1966: 144; Kempf, 1972a: 241; Bolton, 1995b: 392; Pacheco & Mackay, 2013: 361 (redescription); Wetterer, et al. 2016: 18; Deyrup, 2017: 116; Fernández & Serna, 2019: 816.
    • Senior synonym of torresi: Pacheco & Mackay, 2013: 361.
    • Distribution: Anguilla, Barbados, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Martin, U.S.A.
  • torresi. Solenopsis torresi Snelling, R.R. 2001: 514, figs. 1-7 (w.q.m.) PUERTO RICO.
    • Type-material: holotype worker, paratype workers, paratype queens, paratype males (numbers not stated).
    • Type-locality: holotype Puerto Rico: Mona I., nr airstrip, 13.xi.1992, RRS 92-76 (R.R. Snelling & J.A. Torres); paratypes with same data, or dated 29.x.1991, RRS 91-34.
    • Type-depositories: LACM (holotype); AEPR, BMNH, LACM, MCZC, USNM, WEMC (paratypes).
    • Junior synonym of zeteki: Pacheco & Mackay, 2013: 361.

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



Pacheco and Mackay (2013) - Measurements (n=6). TL 1.20-1.38 (1.27); HL 0.360-0.390 (0.385); HW 0.282-0.300 (0.295); EL 0.036-0.042 (0.041); ED 0.030; SL 0.240-0.258 (0.245); FSL 0.084-0.090 (0.085); CI 72.3-83.3 (76.7); SI 61.5-71.7 (63.7); PL 0.054-0.060 (0.059); PW 0.072-0.084 (0.076); PI 71.4-83.3 (77.8); PPL 0.072-0.078 (0.077); PPW 0.078-0.102 (0.092); PPI 76.5-92.3 (84.2); WL 0.240; PSL 0.018-0.024 (0.023); PSW 0.018-0.024 (0.022).

Small, concolorous pale yellow, head quadrate, longer than wide, cephalic punctures fine; lateral clypeal processes reduced to blunt angles, space between angles wide at 0.060 mm in length; extralateral processes absent; clypeal carinae well defined; eyes relatively large, oval-shaped; scape reaches 2/3 length of head; minor funicular segments 3-8 shorter than 0.10 mm in total length; mesosomal sculpture smooth and shiny; propodeal spiracle small; posterior propodeal margin rounded; petiole wider than postpetiole viewed laterally; petiolar node triangular, peduncle lacking tooth or flange ventrally; postpetiolar node oval.

Moderately hairy, erect and suberect hairs of various lengths covering all body surfaces; long (0.120 mm) suberect hairs on pronotum and propodeum; hairs on petiole and postpetiole curve posteriorly.


Pacheco and Mackay (2013) - Measurements (n=2), TL 3.3-3.36; HL 0.480-0.492; HW 0.408; EL 0.192-0.252; ED 0.150-0.156; MOL 0.060-0.066; MOD 0.048-0.060; SL 0.330-0.336; FSL 0.174-0.234; CI 82.9-85.0; SI 68.3-68.8; PSL 0.048; PSW 0.036-0.042; PL 0.138-0.168; PW 0.180-0.192; PI 76.7-114.3; PPL 0.174-0.210; PPW 0.234-0.240; PPI 87.5-134.5; WL 0.660-1.008.

Small, concolorous yellow; head longer than wide, fine cephalic punctures; lateral clypeal processes blunt angles, extralateral processes absent; clypeal carinae weakly defined; scape long, reaching ¾ length of head; minor funicular segments 3-8 relatively long; eyes large; mesosoma smooth and shiny; posterior propodeal margin rounded; petiole wider than postpetiole viewed laterally; petiolar node rounded, peduncle lacking tooth or flange ventrally; postpetiolar node oval.

Hairy; numerous erect and suberect hairs of various lengths covering all body surfaces; most hairs on propodeum, petiole, postpetiole and gaster curve posteriorly.

Type Material

Pacheco and Mackay (2013) - Panama (lectotype worker, 19 paralectotype workers and 4 paralectotype queens [here designated], type # 26289 Museum of Comparative Zoology). Solenopsis torresi, Puerto Rico, Mona Island, 29-x-1991, R. R. Snelling & J.A. Torres, 91-34, R.R. Snelling 2001 (2 paratype workers, 1 paratype queen William and Emma Mackay Collection).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Adams B. J., S. A. Schnitzer, and S. P. Yanoviak. 2016. Trees as islands: canopy ant species richness increases with the size of liana-free trees in a Neotropical forest. Ecography doi: 10.1111/ecog.02608
  • Adams B. J., S. A. Schnitzer, and S. P. Yanoviak. 2019. Connectivity explains local ant community structure in a Neotropical forest canopy: a large-scale experimental approach. Ecology 100(6): e02673.
  • Basset Y., L. Cizek, P. Cuenoud, R. K. Didham, F. Guilhaumon, O. Missa, V. Novotny, F. Odegaards, T. Roslin, J. Schmidl et al. 2012. Arthropod diversity in a tropical forest. Science 338(6113): 1481-1484.
  • Boer P. 2019. Ants of Saba, species list. Accessed on January 22 2019 at
  • Castano-Meneses, G., M. Vasquez-Bolanos, J. L. Navarrete-Heredia, G. A. Quiroz-Rocha, and I. Alcala-Martinez. 2015. Avances de Formicidae de Mexico. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Ettershank G. 1966. A generic revision of the world Myrmicinae related to Solenopsis and Pheidologeton (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Aust. J. Zool. 14: 73-171.
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Longino J. T., and R. K. Colwell. 2011. Density compensation, species composition, and richness of ants on a neotropical elevational gradient. Ecosphere 2(3): 16pp.
  • Longino J. et al. ADMAC project. Accessed on March 24th 2017 at
  • Pacheco J. A., and W. P. Mackay. 2013. The systematics and biology of the New World thief ants of the genus Solenopsis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 501 pp.
  • Reynoso-Campos J. J., J. A. Rodriguez-Garza, and M. Vasquez-Bolanos. 2015. Hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de la Isla Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico (pp. 27-39). En: Castaño Meneses G., M. Vásquez-Bolaños, J. L. Navarrete-Heredia, G. A. Quiroz-Rocha e I. Alcalá-Martínez (Coords.). Avances de Formicidae de México. UNAM, Universiad de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco.
  • Snelling R. R. 2005. Wasps, ants, and bees: aculeate Hymeoptera. Pp. 283-296 in: Lazell, J. 2005. Island. Fact and theory in nature. Berkeley: University of California Press, xx + 382 pp.
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  • Wheeler W. M. 1942. Studies of Neotropical ant-plants and their ants. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 90: 1-262.
  • Yanoviak S. P., S, M. Berghoff, K. E. Linsenmair, and G. Zotz. 2011. Effects of an Epiphytic Orchid on Arboreal Ant Community Structure in Panama. Biotropica 43(6): 731-737.