Myrmelachista lauroatlantica

Longino, J. T., 2006, A taxonomic review of the genus Myrmelachista (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica., Zootaxa 1141, pp. 1-54 : 28-31

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Myrmelachista lauroatlantica


Myrmelachista lauroatlantica   HNS   NEW SPECIES

Figures 4, 7, 8, 9

Holotype queen: Costa Rica, Prov. Limón, Casa Verde, Tortuguero , 10°35’N, 83°31’W, 5m , 24 Jun 1988 (J. Longino #2136) [ INBC, specimen code JTLC000006207 ]. GoogleMaps  

Paratypes: workers and queens, from same nest as holotype, specimen codes JTLC000006208 - JTLC000006212 , distributed to MCZC, USNM, UCDC, LACM, BMNH. GoogleMaps  


Worker with antenna 9-segmented, maxillary palpus 5-segmented, color yellow. Queen black; in full face view, with abundant long erect setae projecting from rear margin and sides of head. Obligate inhabitant of Lauraceae.


Same as M. flavocotea   HNS   except for color of the gaster, which has faint posterior bands of infuscation on the tergites.

Measurements: HL 0.450-0.588, HW 0.422-0.579, SL 0.217-0.295, EL 0.080-0.130, CI 94-100 (n=5).


Antenna 9-segmented; maxillary palpus 5-segmented; labrum short, bilobed, not covering mouthparts; dorsal surface of mandible punctate to coarsely punctatorugose; clypeus with large piligerous puncta; malar spaces with variable extent of weak punctatorugose sculpturing, grading to smooth and shining posteriorly; in full face view, with abundant long erect setae projecting from rear margin and sides of head; ventral surface of head with abundant short erect setae; scapes with abundant erect to suberect setae, longer setae subequal to width of scape; outer surface of hind tibia with abundant erect to subdecumbent setae, longer setae shorter than width of tibia; color solid black.

Measurements: HL 0.874-1.08, HW 0.763-0.930, SL 0.380-0.434, EL 0.231-0.286, OW 0.048-0.073, OD 0.170-0.227, CI 83-89, OI 29-33, OcI 5-8 (n=11).


Antenna 10-segmented; maxillary palpus 5 or 6-segmented; pygostyles nearly absent (tiny remnants visible at high magnification); basiparamere lobe pronounced, with broad base, about half the length of the paramere; paramere also with broad base; cuspis small, rectangular, with minute apical denticles; digitus evenly curved downward and tapering to blunt point; apodeme of penial valve curving into dorsal margin at obtuse angle.


The name refers to its association with plants in the family Lauraceae and its geographic distribution in the Atlantic lowlands.


Costa Rica. In Costa Rica it occurs in the Atlantic lowlands.


This species occurs in mature rainforest habitats in the Atlantic lowlands. It is a specialist inhabitant of live stems of Lauraceae, similar to M. flavocotea   HNS   . In the forests around the community of Tortuguero on the north Atlantic coast understory Ocotea dendrodaphne   and Licaria   sp. are common, and nearly all are inhabited by M. lauroatlantica   HNS   . I dissected numerous small plants with colonies, many of which were monogynous but some of which were polygynous. One small Licaria   contained 25 dealate queens, along with workers, brood, and an adult male. One contained a cluster of 3 dealate queens in a colony with abundant workers and brood. A large Licaria   tree that had fallen over and produced sucker shoots along its length was packed with a large polygynous colony, with clusters of dealate queens in many chambers. In a forest patch at C.A.T.I.E. near Turrialba colonies were common in O. dendrodaphne   and O. atirrensis   . A monogynous colony was found in an understory Ocotea   HNS   (probably dendrodaphne   or atirrensis   ) in Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve.

Material Examined

COSTA RICA, Cartago: CATIE, nr. Turrialba , 9°54’N, 83°39’W, 550m (J. Longino, 6 collections) GoogleMaps   ; Limón: Tortuguero , 10°35’N, 83°31’W, 5-50m (J. Longino, 17 collections) GoogleMaps   ; Hitoy Cerere Biol. Reserve , 9°40’N, 83°02’W, 100m (J. Longino) GoogleMaps   .


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


USA, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology


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


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


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


United Kingdom, London, The Natural History Museum [formerly British Museum (Natural History)]