Dolichoderus debilis

Dolichoderus debilis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dolichoderinae
Tribe: Dolichoderini
Genus: Dolichoderus
Species: D. debilis
Binomial name
Dolichoderus debilis
Emery, 1890

Dolichoderus debilis casent0106158 p 1 high.jpg

Dolichoderus debilis casent0106158 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels



Color black; mesosomal dorsum with abundant delicate erect setae; scapes lacking erect setae; dorsal and posterior faces of propodeum meeting at rounded angle and not produced as a projecting flange; face and mesosomal dorsum sublucid; pronotum transverse, with spiniform humeri (Jack Longino).


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 15.32625° to -64.36°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Panama, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela (type locality).

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.


MacKay (1993): This species is usually collected in wet forest. It is a timid ant which nests in twigs, branches, trunks and fence posts, often in a faculative association with Crematogaster carinata (Swain, 1977, 1980). Nests are found in termitaria of Nasutitermes ephratae, N. corniger, and N. columbicus (Wheeler, 1936; Swain, 1977). Workers are found at extrafloral nectaries of Catostemma (Bombacaceae) (Lattke, 1986). It tends coccids and membracids. A single female was collected in March (Costa Rica - LACM). It is occasionally collected in quarantine on banana debris.

Jack Longino: Dolichoderus debilis has been reported on numerous occasions nesting together with other species of ants. Forel (1898) observed Dolichoderus debilis and Crematogaster carinata (as C. limata parabiotica) inhabiting the same nest in Colombia, and coined the term parabiosis to describe the phenomenon of mutual nest sharing. Wheeler (1921) made similar observations. Davidson has multiple observations of parabiotic foraging between D. debilis and C. carinata in Peru (pers. comm.). Her studies indicate that, unlike many other species of Dolichoderus, D. debilis has no chemical defences and has lost them because of its parabiotic associations with other strongly defended ants.

At Carara Biological Reserve in Costa Rica, I observed a parabiotic association between D. debilis and C. carinata. Nests of both species were interdigitated in a cluster of dead branches. The nests of the two species were contiguous, with interconnections among chambers, but they were still largely segregated. In general the Crematogaster occupied smaller and more peripheral chambers, while the Dolichoderus occupied larger chambers in the center of the branches. In some peripheral chambers I found workers of both species together, but these chambers never contained brood. Any chamber with brood always contained only one species.

While this species is known to nest in ant gardens it does not seem to be a true ant-garden taxon (i.e., one that is able to initiate ant gardens or is restricted to ant gardens) and is more likely to be a secondary resident or opportunistic ant-garden nester (Campbell et al., 2022; Madison, 1979; Orivel & Leroy, 2011).

Association with Other Organisms

  Explore: Show all Associate data or Search these data. See also a list of all data tables or learn how data is managed.

This species is a xenobiont for the ant Crematogaster carinata (a xenobiont).

Flight Period

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

Source: Kaspari et al., 2001.



Images from AntWeb

Worker. Specimen code casent0249657. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by PSWC, Philip S. Ward Collection.
Worker. Specimen code casent0249658. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by PSWC, Philip S. Ward Collection.
Syntype of Dolichoderus debilis parabioticaWorker. Specimen code casent0902951. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMUK, London, UK.
Syntype of Dolichoderus debilisWorker. Specimen code casent0905035. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MSNG, Genoa, Italy.
Syntype of Dolichoderus debilis parabioticaWorker. Specimen code casent0905037. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MSNG, Genoa, Italy.


Images from AntWeb

Syntype of Dolichoderus debilis parabioticaQueen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0902952. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMUK, London, UK.


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

  • debilis. Dolichoderus debilis Emery, 1890a: 69 (w.) VENEZUELA. Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1951: 176 (l.). Combination in D. (Monacis): Emery, 1894c: 228; in Monacis: Kempf, 1959b: 247; in Hypoclinea: Lattke, 1987b: 264; in Dolichoderus: Shattuck, 1992c: 77. Senior synonym of parabiotica, sieversi: Kempf, 1959b: 247. See also: Mackay, 1993b: 47.
  • sieversi. Dolichoderus debilis var. sieversi Forel, 1901h: 65 (w.) VENEZUELA. Combination in D. (Monacis): Emery, 1913a: 9. Junior synonym of debilis: Kempf, 1959b: 247.
  • parabiotica. Dolichoderus debilis var. parabiotica Forel, 1912h: 33 (w.q.m.) COLOMBIA. Junior synonym of debilis: Kempf, 1959b: 247.



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.
  • Borgmeier T. 1923. Catalogo systematico e synonymico das formigas do Brasil. 1 parte. Subfam. Dorylinae, Cerapachyinae, Ponerinae, Dolichoderinae. Archivos do Museu Nacional (Rio de Janeiro) 24: 33-103.
  • Branstetter M. G. and L. Sáenz. 2012. Las hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de Guatemala. Pp. 221-268 in: Cano E. B. and J. C. Schuster. (eds.) 2012. Biodiversidad de Guatemala. Volumen 2. Guatemala: Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, iv + 328 pp
  • CSIRO Collection
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Davidson, D.W., J.A. Arias and J. Mann. 2006. An experimental study of bamboo ants in western Amazonia. Insectes Sociaux 53:108-114
  • Davidson, D.W., J.A. Arias and J. Mann. 2006. An experimental study of bamboo ants in western Amazonia. Insectes Sociaux 53:108–114.
  • Emery C. 1890. Voyage de M. E. Simon au Venezuela (Décembre 1887 - Avril 1888). Formicides. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France (6)10: 55-76.
  • Emery C. 1896. Formiche raccolte dal dott. E. Festa nei pressi del golfo di Darien. Bollettino dei Musei di Zoologia ed Anatomia Comparata della Reale Università di Torino 11(229): 1-4.
  • Emery C. 1913. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Dolichoderinae. Genera Insectorum 137: 1-50.
  • Escalante Gutiérrez J. A. 1993. Especies de hormigas conocidas del Perú (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Revista Peruana de Entomología 34:1-13.
  • Fernandes I., and J. de Souza. 2018. Dataset of long-term monitoring of ground-dwelling ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the influence areas of a hydroelectric power plant on the Madeira River in the Amazon Basin. Biodiversity Data Journal 6: e24375.
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Forel A. 1901. Formiciden des Naturhistorischen Museums zu Hamburg. Neue Calyptomyrmex-, Dacryon-, Podomyrma- und Echinopla-Arten. Mitt. Naturhist. Mus. Hambg. 18: 43-82.
  • Forel A. 1905. Miscellanea myrmécologiques II (1905). Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 49: 155-185.
  • Forel A. 1912. Formicides néotropiques. Part V. 4me sous-famille Dolichoderinae Forel. Mémoires de la Société Entomologique de Belgique. 20: 33-58.
  • Franco W., N. Ladino, J. H. C. Delabie, A. Dejean, J. Orivel, M. Fichaux, S. Groc, M. Leponce, and R. M. Feitosa. 2019. First checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of French Guiana. Zootaxa 4674(5): 509-543.
  • Groc S., J. H. C. Delabie, F. Fernandez, F. Petitclerc, B. Corbara, M. Leponce, R. Cereghino, and A. Dejean. 2017. Litter-dwelling ants as bioindicators to gauge the sustainability of small arboreal monocultures embedded in the Amazonian rainforest. Ecological Indicators 82: 43-49.
  • Hahn, D.A. and D.E. Wheeler. 2002. Seasonal Foraging Activity and Bait Preferences of Ants on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Biotropica 34(3):348-356
  • Kempf W. W. 1959. A revision of the Neotropical ant genus Monacis Roger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Studia Entomologica (n.s.)2: 225-270.
  • Kempf W. W. 1972. A new species of the dolichoderine ant genus Monacis Roger, from the Amazon, with further remarks on the genus (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Revista Brasileira de Biologia 32: 251-254.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Longino, J.T. 2003. The Crematogaster (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae) of Costa Rica. Zootaxa 151:1-150
  • Mackay, W.P. 1993. A review of the New World ants of the genus Dolichoderus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 22(1):1-148
  • Menke, S.B. Personal Communication. Field Museum Specimen Data
  • Ortiz C. M., and F. Fernandez. 2007. As formigas do genero Dolichoderus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Dolichoderinae) em Colombia. Biologico, Sao Paulo 69(2): 439-441.
  • Philpott S. M., I. Perfecto, and J. Vandermeer. 2006. Effects of management intensity and season on arboreal ant diversity and abundance in coffee agroecosystems. 15: 139-155.
  • Philpott, S.M. and P.F. Foster. 2005. Nest-site limitation in coffee agroecosytems: Artificial nests maintain diversity of arboreal ants. Ecological Applications 15(4):1478-1485
  • Pires de Prado L., R. M. Feitosa, S. Pinzon Triana, J. A. Munoz Gutierrez, G. X. Rousseau, R. Alves Silva, G. M. Siqueira, C. L. Caldas dos Santos, F. Veras Silva, T. Sanches Ranzani da Silva, A. Casadei-Ferreira, R. Rosa da Silva, and J. Andrade-Silva. 2019. An overview of the ant fauna (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the state of Maranhao, Brazil. Pap. Avulsos Zool. 59: e20195938.
  • Salinas P. J. 2010. Catalogue of the ants of the Táchira State, Venezuela, with notes on their biodiversity, biogeography and ecology (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Amblyioponinae, Ponerinae, Proceratiinae, Myrmicinae, Ecitoninae, Formicinae, Pseudomyrmecinae, Dolichoderinae). Boletín de la SEA 47: 315-328.
  • Shattuck S. O. 1994. Taxonomic catalog of the ant subfamilies Aneuretinae and Dolichoderinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). University of California Publications in Entomology 112: i-xix, 1-241.
  • Vasconcelos H. L., J. M. S. Vilhena, W. E. Magnusson, and A. L. K. M. Albernaz. 2006. Long-term effects of forest fragmentation on Amazonian ant communities. Journal of Biogeography 33: 1348-1356.
  • Vasconcelos, H.L., J.M.S. Vilhena, W.E. Magnusson and A.L.K.M. Albernaz. 2006. Long-term effects of forest fragmentation on Amazonian ant communities. Journal of Biogeography 33:1348-1356
  • Wheeler W. M. 1922. The ants of Trinidad. American Museum Novitates 45: 1-16.
  • Wilson, E.O. 1987. The Arboreal Ant Fauna of Peruvian Amazon Forests: A First Assessment. Biotropica 19(3):245-251.
  • 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.