Azteca pittieri Forel

Longino, J. T., 2007, A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group., Zootaxa 1491, pp. 1-63 : 43-45

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Azteca pittieri Forel


Azteca pittieri Forel View in CoL   HNS 1899

Figures 2,4A,4B,5,6D.

Azteca pittieri Forel   HNS , 1899:120. Syntype workers: Costa Rica, Buenos Aires (Pittier) [ MHNG] (examined).

Azteca longiceps subsp. patruelis Forel   HNS , 1908b:392. Syntype workers, queen: Mexico, near Colima (Townsend), in Cordia alliodora [ MHNG] (examined). NEW SYNONYMY

Azteca patruelis Forel   HNS : Longino 1996:142, Ayala et al. 1996 (misidentifications).

Azteca pittieri var. emarginatisquamis Forel   HNS , 1920:204. Syntype workers: Costa Rica (Pittier, n.6701 ), found by Chodat in cauline swellings of Cordia gerascanthus [ MHNG] (examined). Synonymy by Longino 1996:144.

Azteca   HNS JTL-007: morphospecies code used in Longino 1996.

Queen characters. Measurements (n=64): HLA 1.48 (1.29-1.68, 62), HW 1.02 (0.83-1.14), SL 0.65 (0.59- 0.72, 13), CI 68 (63-74, 62), SI 44 (42-45, 13).

Palpal formula 5,3; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible with row of large puncta at masticatory margin, these bearing long setae, otherwise puncta small and lacking setae, surface smooth and shiny over variable extent of surface, becoming faintly microareolate and dull toward base; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level; head rectangular, posterior margin distinctly excised medially; petiolar node short, bluntly rounded; posteroventral petiolar lobe moderately convex from front to back; scape with moderately abundant erect setae, about as long as one half maximum width of scape; middle and hind tibia with moderately abundant erect setae, longest about as long as one third maximum width of tibia (MTSC 5-15), side of head with 0-5 short erect setae near mandibular insertion, lacking setae elsewhere, posterior margin of head with abundant short setae; pronotum with posterior row of erect setae, mesoscutum and propodeum with sparse to abundant erect setae, scutellum with abundant erect setae, petiolar node in profile with 4-8 pairs erect setae projecting above apex, posteroventral lobe with abundant short erect setae; gastral terga with sparse erect setae; general body color uniformly dark brown.

Worker characters. Measurements (n=28): HLA 1.01 (0.77-1.21), HW 0.84 (0.64-0.99), SL 0.53 (0.44- 0.60), CI 0.83 (0.78-0.89), SI 0.54 (0.49-0.60).

Palpal formula 5,3; middle and hind tibia with prominent pectinate apical spur; dorsal surface of mandible smooth and shiny, row of large puncta along masticatory margin with setae, others small and lacking setae; medial and lateral clypeal lobes at about same level; head elongate with weakly convex sides, strongly excavate posterior margin; in lateral profile pronotum shallowly convex, mesonotum slightly more convex and forming slightly separate convexity; scape with moderately abundant, inconspicuous erect setae, length of setae about one half maximum width of scape; mid and hind tibia with moderately abundant erect setae, longest about one half maximum width of tibia; side of head with 2-5 short erect setae anterior to eye, lacking setae elsewhere; posterior margin of head with abundant short erect setae; pronotum, mesonotum, and dorsal face of propodeum with abundant erect setae; color brown.

Range. Mexico to Panama.

Biology. The taxonomy and biology of this species is reviewed in Longino (1996). More recent studies of the relationship between Cordia alliodora and Azteca pittieri   HNS are Tillberg (2004), and Trager & Bruna (2006). This species is the dominant inhabitant of the ant plant Cordia alliodora . Most Cordia alliodora plants in Costa Rica harbor colonies of A. pittieri   HNS . Founding queens can be found alone in Cordia nodes, and never seem to found pleometrotically. Colonies are apparently monogynous, with workers, brood, and coccoid Hemiptera dispersed in nodes throughout the tree. Workers are aggressive and forage on the surface of the host tree, but do not generally forage off the host tree.

A set of collections of A. pittieri   HNS have been made from understory Lauraceae. I collected workers from small trees (either Ocotea   HNS or Licaria ) at Tortuguero, and workers and alate queens from Ocotea nicaraguensis at Carara Biological Reserve. These were dispersed in live branch tips, with general colony structure and behavior much like the colonies in Cordia . INBio Parataxonomists collected isolated queens at Rancho Quemado on the Osa Peninsula.

Comments. The collections from Lauraceae are probably a distinct species, and I use the morphospecies code JTL-007 for them, but I cannot identify any morphological characters that distinguish them from the Cordia-inhabiting A. pittieri   HNS . The mandibles tend to be somewhat more setose, with larger and more abundant piligerous puncta compared to the specimens from Cordia . On some workers there are a few short setae on the side of the head posterior to eye, and the general surface pubescence is more abundant and longer. All other characters fall well within the range of variation for the Cordia specimens.

In Costa Rica, the queens of the Cordia-inhabiting A. pittieri   HNS cluster into two size classes (Fig. 4B). Smaller queens are from the Pacific lowlands, up to about 500m elevation. Larger queens occur at higher elevations on the Pacific slope, throughout the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica, and the scattered collections from further north in Central America and southern Mexico, including the type of A. patruelis   HNS . Given that the two forms are parapatric and appear to have identical natural history, I am reluctant to consider them distinct species until additional collections and characters are examined.

The types of A. patruelis   HNS were sent to Forel by Wheeler, and Wheeler (1942:15) provided additional notes on the specimens. They were sent to Wheeler by C. H. Tyler Townsend, who collected them near Cualata, on the slopes of Volcán de Colima, Mexico, in Cordia alliodora . The ants kept large red lecanoid coccids in the nest.

Material examined. COSTA RICA: Guanacaste: Estacion Maritza, Guanacaste Conservation Area , 10°58'N, 85°30'W, 600m , 22- 23 Feb 1996 (J. Longino) - workers, queens GoogleMaps ; Bosque Humedo, Santa Rosa Nat. Park , 10°51'N, 85°37'W, 300m , 12 Jul 1985 (J. Longino) - queens GoogleMaps ; oak forest, Santa Rosa Nat. Park , 10°52'N, 85°36'W, 300m , 15 Jul 1985 (J. Longino) - queens GoogleMaps ; Nuevo Arenal , 10°32'N, 84°54'W, 600m , 3 Jul 1991 (J. Longino) - workers, males, queens GoogleMaps ; Taboga Hill , 10°20'N, 85°12'W, 1 Aug 1971 (C. R. Carroll) - workers, alate queens [ LACM] GoogleMaps ; Santa Rosa National Park, 0-300m , Feb 1982 (C. Pringle) - worker [ UCDC] ; Heredia: Chilamate , 10°27'N, 84°04'W, 70m , 1 Sep 1989 (P. Hanson) - alate queen [ MUCR] GoogleMaps ; La Selva Biological Station , 10°26'N, 84°01'W, 50m , multiple collections and dates (ALAS, Kojima, J. Longino) - workers, queens, males [ INBC] GoogleMaps ; Limón: 6km WNW Pto. Viejo , 9°40'N, 82°49'W, 50m , 3 Sep 1985 (J. Longino) - queens GoogleMaps ; Puntarenas: Corcovado National Park , 8°29'N, 83°36'W, 13 Jan 1987 (D. W. Davidson) - worker [ LACM] GoogleMaps ; Guacimal, rd to Monteverde , 10°13'N, 84°51'W, 300m , 20 Jul 1984 (J. Longino) - queen GoogleMaps ; Guacimal, rd to Monteverde , 10°13'N, 84°51'W, 400m , 5 Jul 1991 (J. Longino) - queens, males, workers GoogleMaps ; Guacimal, rd to Monteverde , 10°14'N, 84°51'W, 500m , 25 Jul 1984 and 5 Jul 1991 (J. Longino) - queens, males, workers GoogleMaps ; Guaria, rd to Monteverde , 10°14'N, 84°51'W, 700m , 25 Jul 1984 (J. Longino) - queens GoogleMaps ; Guaria, rd to Monteverde , 10°15'N, 84°50'W, 700m , 27 Jul 1984 (J. Longino) - queen GoogleMaps ; Ojo de Agua, rd to Monteverde , 10°16'N, 84°50'W, 800m , 28 Jul 1984 (J. Longino) - queens, males, workers GoogleMaps ; Lindora, 2.5km SW Monteverde , 10°18'N, 84°50'W, 840m , 8 Jul 1991 (J. Longino) - queen GoogleMaps ; 4km E Palmar Norte , 8°58'N, 83°25'W, 40m , 26 Mar 1990 (J. Longino) - queens, workers GoogleMaps ; 5km SSW Monteverde , 10°16'N, 84°50'W, 750m , 4 Jun 1990 (J. Longino) - alate queens GoogleMaps ; Puerto Jimenez , 8°32'N, 83°19'W, 10m , Dec 1991 (P. Hanson & Godoy) - dealate queen GoogleMaps ; San José: 3.5km NE Santiago de Puriscal , 9°52'N, 84°18'W (D. H. Janzen) - alate queen [ USNM] GoogleMaps ; EL SALVADOR: San Salvador, 13°42'N, 89°12'W, Oct 1959 (N. L. H. Krauss) - dealate queens [ USNM] GoogleMaps ; GUATEMALA: Finca El Chilero , 30 Mar 1977 (J. W. Stead) - workers [ LACM] ; Alta Vera Paz: Cacao, Trece Aguas , 15°24'N, 89°45'W (Barber & Schwarz) - dealate queen [ USNM] GoogleMaps ; HONDURAS: Choluteca: Tres Piedras , 5 Apr 1977 (J. W. Stead) - workers [ LACM] ; MEXICO: Chiapas: 8km ENE Guadaloupe Victoria (D. W. Davidson) - worker [ LACM] ; Jalisco: Chamela Biological Station , 19°31'N, 105°02'W, 15 Jul 1984 (D. H. Feener) - workers [ LACM] GoogleMaps ; Chamela Biological Station , 19°30'N, 105°02'W, 100m , 18 Dec 1987 (P. S. Ward) - queen, worker [ UCDC] GoogleMaps ; Veracruz: Los Tuxtlas Biological Station , 18°35'N, 95°05'W, 22 Sep 1984 (G. Ibarra) - worker [ LACM] GoogleMaps ; NICARAGUA: Estelí: 8km S Estelí, 23 Mar 1977 (J. W. Stead) - workers [ LACM] ; PANAMA: Canal Zone: Ancon , 8°57'N, 79°33'W, 6 Jul 1924 (G. C. Wheeler) - dealate queen GoogleMaps .

Morphospecies JTL-007: COSTA RICA: Limón: Casa Verde, Tortuguero , 10°35'N, 83°31'W, 5m , 23 Jun 1988 (J. Longino) - males, workers GoogleMaps ; Puntarenas: Carara Biological Reserve, Estacion Quebrada Bonita , 9°47'N, 84°36'W, 30m , 13 Feb 1989 (J. Longino) - queens, males workers GoogleMaps ; Rancho Quemado, Osa Peninsula , 8°42'N, 83°33'W, 200m , 21 Mar - 7 Apr 1992 (F. Quesada) - queen [ INBC] GoogleMaps ; same locality, 12- 24 May 1993 (A. Gutierrez) - queen [ INBC] GoogleMaps .


Switzerland, Geneva, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle


USA, California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History


USA, California, Davis, University of California, R.M. Bohart Museum of Entomology


Costa Rica, Ciudad Universitaria, Universidad de Costa Rica, Museo de Insectos


Costa Rica, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio)


USA, Washington D.C., National Museum of Natural History, [formerly, United States National Museum]













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