Paramycetophylax bruchi

Paramycetophylax bruchi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Paramycetophylax
Species: P. bruchi
Binomial name
Paramycetophylax bruchi
(Santschi, 1916)

Paramycetophylax bruchi casent0912502 p 1 high.jpg

Paramycetophylax bruchi casent0912502 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


There is no recent information published about the natural history of the species. Only Bucher (1974) briefly commented on the nest architecture of P. bruchi and K. emeryi; both species nesting in sandy soil, in places clear of vegetation.

At a Glance • Fungus Grower  


Paramycetophylax bruchi, the only species in the genus, is defined by the following set of characters: the wide triangular frontal lobes; long setae at the mandibles and at the anterior margin of clypeus, forming a psammophore, and distinct pronotal spines.

The shape of the workers antennal scapes varies among individuals; it was not possible to determine a typical shape for the species: some specimens have straight scapes, surpassing the posterolateral corners of the head while others have curved scapes, only reaching the posterolateral corners. Santschi (1922) commented on the variation in P. simplex (= Mycetophylax bruchi var. pauper Santschi, 1923) with some individuals with slightly longer antennal scapes and without greyish powder covering (“pruinosité”). We suspect that he actually observed the symbiont bacteria Streptomyces covering the Attini ants in some individuals, which can cause such an appearance. Currie et al. (1999) described this phenomenon in Acromyrmex ants. (Klingenberg & Brandão 2009)


Southern South America

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -26.808285° to -40.421°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina (type locality), Brazil.

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.


  Explore Fungus Growing 
For additional details see Fungus growing ants.

A handful of ant species (approx. 275 out of the known 15,000 species) have developed the ability to cultivate fungus within their nests. In most species the fungus is used as the sole food source for the larvae and is an important resource for the adults as well. Additionally, in a limited number of cases, the fungus is used to construct part of the nest structure but is not as a food source.

These fungus-feeding species are limited to North and South America, extending from the pine barrens of New Jersey, United States, in the north (Trachymyrmex septentrionalis) to the cold deserts in Argentina in the south (several species of Acromyrmex). Species that use fungi in nest construction are known from Europe and Africa (a few species in the genera Crematogaster, Lasius).

The details of fungal cultivation are rich and complex. First, a wide variety of materials are used as substrate for fungus cultivating. The so-called lower genera include species that prefer dead vegetation, seeds, flowers, fruits, insect corpses, and feces, which are collected in the vicinity of their nests. The higher genera include non leaf-cutting species that collect mostly fallen leaflets, fruit, and flowers, as well as the leafcutters that collect fresh leaves from shrubs and trees. Second, while the majority of fungi that are farmed by fungus-feeding ants belong to the family Lepiotaceae, mostly the genera Leucoagaricus and Leucocoprinus, other fungi are also involved. Some species utilise fungi in the family Tricholomataceae while a few others cultivate yeast. The fungi used by the higher genera no longer produce spores. Their fungi produce nutritious and swollen hyphal tips (gongylidia) that grow in bundles called staphylae, to specifically feed the ants. Finally, colony size varies tremendously among these ants. Lower taxa mostly live in inconspicuous nests with 100–1000 individuals and relatively small fungus gardens. Higher taxa, in contrast, live in colonies made of 5–10 million ants that live and work within hundreds of interconnected fungus-bearing chambers in huge subterranean nests. Some colonies are so large, they can be seen from satellite photos, measuring up to 600 m3.

Based on these habits, and taking phylogenetic information into consideration, these ants can be divided into six biologically distinct agricultural systems (with a list of genera involved in each category):

Nest Construction

A limited number of species that use fungi in the construction of their nests.

Lower Agriculture

Practiced by species in the majority of fungus-feeding genera, including those thought to retain more primitive features, which cultivate a wide range of fungal species in the tribe Leucocoprineae.

Coral Fungus Agriculture

Practiced by species in the Apterostigma pilosum species-group, which cultivate fungi within the Pterulaceae.

Yeast Agriculture

Practiced by species within the Cyphomyrmex rimosus species-group, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi derived from the lower attine fungi.

Generalized Higher Agriculture

Practiced by species in several genera of non-leaf-cutting "higher attine" ants, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi separately derived from the lower attine fungi.

Leaf-Cutter Agriculture

A subdivision of higher attine agriculture practiced by species within several ecologically dominant genera, which cultivate a single highly derived species of higher attine fungus.

Note that the farming habits of Mycetagroicus (4 species) are unknown. Also, while species of Pseudoatta (2 species) are closely related to the fungus-feeding genus Acromyrmex, they are social parasites, living in the nests of their hosts and are not actively involved in fungus growing. ‎



Images from AntWeb

Syntype of Mycetophylax bruchi pauperWorker. Specimen code casent0912503. Photographer Z. Lieberman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMB, Basel, Switzerland.
Syntype of Paramycetophylax bruchiWorker. Specimen code casent0912505. Photographer Z. Lieberman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMB, Basel, Switzerland.
Syntype of Mycetophylax cristulatus emmaeWorker. Specimen code casent0912506. Photographer Z. Lieberman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMB, Basel, Switzerland.






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

  • bruchi. Sericomyrmex bruchi Santschi, 1916e: 383, fig. (w.) ARGENTINA. Combination in Myrmicocrypta (Mycetophylax): Santschi, 1922b: 355; in Paramycetophylax: Kusnezov, 1956: 24; in Mycetophylax: Santschi, 1923c: 268; Weber, 1958d: 262. Senior synonym of cristulata, emmae, pauper (and the omitted name simplex, see below): Klingenberg & Brandão, 2009: 27.
  • cristulata. Myrmicocrypta (Mycetophylax) cristulata Santschi, 1922b: 356 (w.q.m.) ARGENTINA. Combination in Mycetophylax: Santschi, 1929d: 304. Junior synonym of bruchi: Klingenberg & Brandão, 2009: 27.
  • simplex. Myrmicocrypta (Mycetophylax) bruchi var. simplex Santschi, 1922b: 355 (w.) ARGENTINA. Unnecessary replacement name: pauper Santschi, 1923c: 268.
  • pauper. Mycetophylax bruchi var. pauper Santschi, 1923c: 268. Unnecessary replacement name for simplex Santschi, 1922b: 355. [Previously junior secondary homonym of Cyphomyrmex simplex Emery, 1888c: 361, when both names had combinations in Mycetophylax.] Junior synonym of bruchi: Klingenberg & Brandão, 2009: 27.
  • emmae. Mycetophylax cristulatus var. emmae Santschi, 1929d: 304 (w.) BRAZIL. Junior synonym of bruchi: Klingenberg & Brandão, 2009: 27.

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


Klingenberg & Brandão, 2009:


Range of measurements (in mm) and indices of examined specimens (N = 13): IOD 0.88-1.18; HL 0.82-1.10; CI 101-113; SL 0.67-0.87; SI 57-80; ML 0.47-0.58; MI 47-58; WL 1.25-1.73; PrW 0.53-0.70; PL 0.25-0.37; PPL 0.23-0.37; GL 0.90-1.18; FL 0.93-1.39; TL 3.93-5.82.

Measurements (in mm) and indices of Holotype (worker without gaster): IOD 1.00, HL 0.91, CI 110, SL 0.76, SI 76, ML 0,53, M 58, WL 1.48, PrW 0.62, PL 0.30, FL 0.93.

Color yellow to reddish-brown. Masticatory and external borders of mandible, margins of clypeus and carinae brownish. Under optical microscope, body sculpture densely reticulate with exception of dorsal discs of mandibles, where sculpture is finely striate. Whole body sparsely covered by golden shiny appressed hairs. Anterior margin of clypeus with five to nine fine, stiff, and long setae, reaching half the length of the mandibles; three median setae longer than lateral ones.

Head wider than long (see CI). Compound eyes set close to the middle of the head, with eleven ommatidia at maximum width and eight ommatidia at maximum length. Mandibles with eight to ten teeth, the two most apical teeth bigger than the others, followed by five to seven smaller triangular teeth and a last denticle. Anterior margin of clypeus slightly concave, almost straight, which bears a 6–8 long setae psamophore. In frontal view, clypeus attaining posteriorly the level of half the frontal lobes, in a rounded suture, followed by a weakly impressed triangular frontal area. Triangular shaped frontal lobes fully covering the antennal insertions. Glabrous area between antennal insertions and lateral carinae ending posteriorly at the level of posterior margin of the compound eyes. Sharp lateral carinae, almost vertical, marginate the anterior border of compound eyes. Vertexal margin concave, with a median impression and forming two lobes. Antennal scapes flattened, slightly curved; depending on degree of curving, reaching or slightly surpassing the posterolateral corners of the head. Apical end of funiculus with a three segmented club, wider than preceeding segments. The apical segment of funiculus as long as previous two segments together. Ventral face of head conspicuously flat.

Mesosoma. Pronotum with a pair of anterior blunt and low spines, and a pair of inferior spines, square in lateral view. Dorsal face of mesonotum with a small blunt low median protuberance anteriorly. Inferior margin of mesosoma bordered by a sharp translucent carina. In side view, dorsal face of mesonotum slightly concave in the middle, metapropodeal suture straight; propodeum with a pair of triangular anterior protuberances at the basal face, a pair of divergent, short, blunt narrow triangular spines at the meeting of basal and declivous faces, and declivous face almost vertical. Petiole compact; in lateral view peduncle very short, and dorsal margin of node gently sloping until two posterior low triangular corner-like protuberances, with a weakly developed ventral process. Postpetiole in dorsal view subquadrate, with rounded margins. In lateral view, sternite of postpetiole well defined, covering 2/3 of tergite surface.


Measurements (in mm) and indices of examined specimen (N = 1): IOD 1.50; HL 1.36; CI 110; SL 1.01; SI 67; ML 0.57; MI 42; WL 2.05; PL 0.52; PPL 0.49; GL 2.10; TL 7.09.

Color, pilosity and main morphological character traits of head, propodeal spiracle, petiole, postpetiole and gaster conspecific with the workers. Mandibles with nine teeth; apical tooth bigger than all others, followed by a smaller second apical tooth, six equally developed triangular teeth and a small basal denticule. Compound eyes with 16 ommatidia at maximum width and 21 ommatidia at maximum length. Posterior fourth of head with three equally developed ocelli. Most apical funicular segment slightly shorter than the two anterior together.

Mesosoma. In lateral view anterior margin of pronotum and anterior face of scutum almost vertical, dorsal face of scutum flat almost concealing the pronotum in dorsal view, anterior margin of scutum rounded. In dorsal view, posterior margin almost straight, slightly rounded. Parapsidial lines visible due to the darker color of the parapsidial region and median portion of scutum. Notaulices obsolete. Prescutum narrow, at middle portion anterior and posterior margin not touching, axillae subtriangular. Scutum-scutellar sulcus impressed, convex and rounded. Scutellum trapezoid, anterior margin double the width of the slightly convex posterior margin. Metanotum reduced, appearing only as small, flattened disc in dorsal view. Katepisternum subquadrate to subtriangular; anepisternum two thirds of size of katepisternum, subquadrate, both divided by a distinct groove and ending posteriorly in a carina. Propodeum basal face straight in lateral view, oblique, with a sharp and produced triangular spine. Petiole, postpetiole and gaster as in the workers. Spiracle of first gastral segment indistinct.


Range of measurements (in mm) and indices of examined specimens (N = 3, in two speciemens it was not possible to measure the mandible length, therefore range for mandible length, mandibular index and total length are not given): IOD 0.7-0.71; HL 0.68-0.74; CI 101; SL 0.77-0.86; SI 108-123; ML 0.31; MI 42; WL 1.6-1.77; PL 0.37-0.43; PPL 0.26-0.29; GL 1.59-1.73; TL 5.05.

Color dark brown. Funiculus, mandibles, pretarsi and tarsi brownish to yellowish. Integument and pilosity like in the conspecific workers. Integument of gaster shiny, with an almost vestigial reticulation. Head slightly wider than long (see CI), with the postero-lateral angles almost straight. Compound eyes with 21 ommatidia at maximum length and 20 ommatidia at maximum width. Mandibles slender and elongated with only two apical teeth, followed by a straight margin. Anterior margin of clypeus straight with three long setae. Clypeus posterior area attaining the level of half the antennal insertions, ending in a distinct triangular suture, followed by a narrow, impressed triangular area. Frontal lobes reduced, covering only half the antennal insertions. Lateral carinae barely surpassing the level of the posterior margin of compound eyes. Vertexal margin almost straight, posterolateral corners of the head almost rectangular. Antennal scapes straight, with half the length of all other antennal segments together. First funicular segment as long as the two next segments together. Ventral portion of head convex behind the buccal cavity, ending postero-ventrally in a sharp angle.

Mesosoma. In lateral view scutum fully covering the pronotum. Scutum dorsal margin rounded in lateral view; in dorsal view with a middle shallow impression. Anterior margin of scutum rounded in dorsal view. Posterior margin convex. Parapsidial lines parallel to the median body axis. Median portion of prescutum narrow but anterior and posterior margin not touching, axillae subtriangular. Scutum-scutellar sulcus distinct. Scutellum bulging, strongly rounded in lateral view; scutellum anterior margin slightly convex, posterior margin rounded. Anepisternum and katepisternum divided by a sinous groove, development varies among the specimens. Anepisternum subtriangular with four to five transversal rugae dorsally. Katepisternum subquadrate and antero-ventral margin sinuous. Propodeum basal face slightly convex in lateral view, with a pair of small blunt spines; declivous face slightly concave. Petiolar dorsal margin rounded in side view, without spines, only two lobes in dorsal view. Ventral process vestigial. Postpetiole almost twice as wide as petiole in dorsal view, wider posteriorly; posterior margin of postpetiole with a median depression.

Type Material

(worker) Holotype, Argentina: Puerto Madryn (Biraben) (Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel, examined)

Mycetophylax bruchi var. pauper (worker) Type, Argentina: Neuquén, (Dr. Carette col.) (Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo, Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel examined)

Myrmicocrypta (Mycetophylax) cristulata (worker, queen, male) Syntypes, Argentina: Tucumán, El Bañado, Valle Santa Maria, Ing. Weiser col. (Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel, examined)

Mycetophylax cristulatus var. emmae (worker) Syntypes, Argentina, Catamarca, Nacimientos, (Weiser col.) (Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel, Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo examined)


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Albuquerque, E.Z, E. Diehl-Fleig and E. Diehl. Density and distribution of nests of Mycetophylax simplex (Emery) (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in areas with mobile dunes on the northern coast of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 49(1): 123-126.
  • Brandao, C.R.F. 1991. Adendos ao catalogo abreviado das formigas da regiao neotropical (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Rev. Bras. Entomol. 35: 319-412.
  • Cardoso, D.C., T.G. Sobrinho and J.H. Schoereder. 2010. Ant community composition and its relationship with phytophysiognomies in a Brazilian Restinga. Insectes Sociaux 57:293-301
  • Claver S., S. L. Silnik, and F. F. Campon. 2014. Response of ants to grazing disturbance at the central Monte Desert of Argentina: community descriptors and functional group scheme. J Arid Land 6(1): 117?127.
  • Clemes Cardoso D., M. Passos Cristiano, J. Heinze, and M. G. Tavares. 2014. A nuclear DNA based phylogeny of endemic sand dune ants of the genus Mycetophylax (Emery, 1913): How morphology is reflected in molecular data. Molecular phylogenetics and Evolution 70: 378–382.
  • Clemes Cardoso D., and J. H. Schoereder. 2014. Biotic and abiotic factors shaping ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) assemblages in Brazilian coastal sand dunes: the case of restinga in Santa Catarina. Florida Entomologist 97(4): 1443-1450.
  • Clemes Cardoso D., and M. Passos Cristiano. 2010. Myrmecofauna of the Southern Catarinense Restinga sandy coastal plain: new records of species occurrence for the state of Santa Catarina and Brazil. Sociobiology 55(1b): 229-239.
  • Cuezzo, F. 1998. Formicidae. Chapter 42 in Morrone J.J., and S. Coscaron (dirs) Biodiversidad de artropodos argentinos: una perspectiva biotaxonomica Ediciones Sur, La Plata. Pages 452-462.
  • Diehl-Fleig, E. and E. Diehl. 2007. Nest architecture and colony size of the fungus-growing ant Mycetophylax simplex Emery, 1888 (Formicidae, Attini). Insectes Sociaux 54:242-247
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
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  • Klingenberg C., C. R. F. Brandão, and W. Engels. 2007. Primitive nest architecture and small monogynous colonies in basal Attini inhabiting sandy beaches of southern Brazil. Studies on the Neotropical Fauna and Environment 42: 121-126.
  • Klingenberg, C. and C.R.F. Brandao. 2005. The type specimens of fungus growing ants, Attini (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae) deposited in the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Papeis Avulsos de Zoologia 45(4):41-50
  • Kusnezov N. 1956. Claves para la identificación de las hormigas de la fauna argentina. Idia 104-105: 1-56.
  • Kusnezov, N. "Lista de las hormigas de Tucumán con descripción de dos nuevos géneros (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)." Acta Zoologica Lilloana 13 (1953): 327-339.
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  • Santschi F. 1933. Fourmis de la République Argentine en particulier du territoire de Misiones. Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina. 116: 105-124.