Crematogaster curvispinosa Mayr

Longino, J. T., 2003, The Crematogaster (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae) of Costa Rica., Zootaxa 151, pp. 1-150: 55-58

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Crematogaster curvispinosa Mayr


Crematogaster curvispinosa Mayr  HNS  1870

Plate 2, 8

Crematogaster curvispinosa Mayr  HNS  , 1862:768. Holotype worker: Brazil, Rio de Janeiro (Novara) [ NMW]  (examined). Forel, 1911a:301: description of queen from Brazil, São Paulo, Ypiranga (v. Ihering)  . Forel, 1912:216: report of male. Emery, 1922:134: combination in C. (Orthocrema)  HNS  .

Crematogaster curvispinosa var. antillana Forel  HNS  , 1893: 399. Syntype workers: St. Vincent, Richmond Estate, near sea level, in a rotten stump , ants numerous, in a cavity about 3in X 1 /2 X 1 / 3, with larvae, but could find no female  ; and Morne a Garou, 1500-2000 ft, forest , beaten from foliage (H. H. Smith) [ MHNG]  (examined). Forel, 1912: 216: report of queens from Martinique and Castries, Santa Lucia; Rio Frio Colombia (Forel). Emery, 1922: 134: combination in C. (Orthocrema)  HNS  . NEW SYNONYMY

Crematogaster sculpturata Pergande  HNS  , 1896:876. Syntype workers: Mexico, Tepic (Eisen and Vaslit) [ MCZC, USNM]  (examined). Wheeler, W.M. 1934:171: worker redescribed. Emery, 1922:136: combination in C. (Orthocrema)  HNS  . NEW SYNONYMY

Crematogaster (Orthocrema) curvispinosa var. kemali Santschi  HNS  , 1923:250. Syntype worker and ergatogyne: Brasil, Santa Catarina, Blumenau (Reichensperger) [ NHMB]  (examined). NEW SYNONYMY

Crematogaster (Orthocrema) fuliginea Santschi  HNS  , 1925:231. Syntype worker: Brazil, Minas Gerais (E. Luja)  . Synonymy by Santschi, 1929b:88.

Crematogaster (Orthocrema) curvispinosa var. obscura Santschi  HNS  , 1929a:293. Syntype worker: Argentina, Jujuy (Neiva) [ NHMB]  (examined). Unresolved junior primary homonym of C. obscura Smith, F.  HNS  1857:76. NEW SYNONYMY

Crematogaster sculpturata subsp. phytoeca Wheeler, W.M.  HNS  1934:173. Syntype worker, queen, male: Mexico, Veracruz, Mirador , in Tillandsia streptophylla  (Nos. 213, 519, 550, 606), in T. dasyliriifolia  (362), in T. balbisiana  (620, 651), in Conostegia xalapensis  (209a, 209b), in internodes of Cecropia schiedeana  (253), in hollow stems (564) (Skwarra) [ LACM]  (Skwarra #362, #651 examined). Non-type material listed by Wheeler: Tamarindo, in thorns of Acacia sphaerocephala  ; Camaron, in T. balbesiana  (675, 688), in T. pruinosa  (628a), in pseudobulbs of Schomburgkia tibicinis  (479). Mirador (209a) includes an "ergatomorphic female." NEW SYNONYMY

Crematogaster (Orthocrema) sculpturata subsp. accola Wheeler  HNS  1934:175. Syntype worker: Mexico, Veracruz: Mirador , in Tillandsia streptophylla  (Nos. 595, 662), in Conostegia xalapensis  (13, 104) (Skwarra)  . NEW SYNONYMY

Crematogaster (Orthocrema) curvispinosa var. panamana Wheeler, W.M.  HNS  1942:195. Syntype worker, queen: Panama, Tumba Muerte Road, near Las Sabanas , in thorns of Acacia penonomensis  (Wheeler)  . NEW SYNONYMY


Throughout Neotropics, from southern Mexico to northern Argentina, Antilles.

Description of worker

Color usually dark red brown to black.

Mandibles smooth and shiny; face largely smooth and shiny, with variable extent of microareolate sculpture around antennal insertions; scapes with 5-10 long, erect, delicate setae and abundant long decumbent setae; antennal club 2-segmented; clypeus with 2-4 longitudinal rugae; face with 20-30 short, stiff, erect setae; ventral surface of head with 0- few erect setae.

In lateral view, dorsal profile of pronotum, mesonotum, and propodeum usually forming continuous curve, mesonotum sometimes somewhat elevated, forming weak promesonotal suture, dorsal and posterior faces of propodeum in same plane, sloping to petiolar insertion; propodeal spines projecting posterodorsally; pronotal dorsum with clathrate sculpture forming a lattice of longitudinal and transverse carinae with smooth and shiny interspaces; mesonotal dorsum with two elevated longitudinal carinae laterally, irregular clathrate rugulae medially; propodeal suture impressed medially but not visible in side view because lateral mesonotal carinae continue onto dorsal face of propodeum; mesonotal carina may have slight tooth at propodeal suture; dorsal face of propodeum with faint aerolate rugulose sculpture, posterior face smooth and shining; in dorsal view propodeal spines highly distinctive, with bases broad, weakly tapering, divergent, then abruptly bent to form short, sharp, posteriorly directed tips; side of pronotum flat, largely smooth and shining, with faint line of punctation dorsally; medial portion of katepisternum with variable extent smooth and shining, perimeter strip and anepisternum punctate to faintly microareolate; side of propodeum with variable extent and strength of punctate sculpture, densest ventrally, becoming smoother dorsally; setae on mesosomal dorsum stiff, relatively short, of variable length, longest approximately 0.16mm long, dorsum of pronotum with anterior row of four setae, anterolateral and posterolateral dorsum of mesonotum (at propodeal suture) each with a seta; propodeal spine with 1-2 setae at angle where spine bends posteriorly; additional short setae variably present on mesosomal dorsum; legs with dilute appressed pubescence and no erect setae.

Petiole in side view trapezoidal; side faintly microareolate/punctate; anteroventral tooth produced, forming a right angle or more often acute; dorsal face subrectangular, somewhat longer than wide or more often almost as wide as long, smooth and shining; posterolateral tubercles each with two stiff setae; postpetiole globular, with no trace of median sulcus or posterior emargination; with small anteroventral tooth; dorsum smooth and shining or faintly microareolate; with 4-6 stiff erect setae; fourth abdominal tergite smooth and shining, with 15-25 stiff erect setae and very dilute short appressed pubescence; although setae of fourth abdominal tergite vary in density, length, and stiffness; one specimen from Santarem is an outlier with about 40 distinctly shorter, stiff erect setae.


HL 0.572, 0.586, 0.632; HW 0.610, 0.580, 0.664; HC 0.565, 0.561, 0.626; SL 0.513, 0.523, 0.576; EL 0.142, 0.152, 0.140; A11L 0.236; A11W 0.105; A10L 0.126; A10W 0.091; A09L 0.050; A09W 0.060; A08L 0.046; A08W 0.056; WL 0.626, 0.602, 0.678; SPL 0.125, 0.154, 0.180; PTH 0.159, 0.150, 0.166; PTL 0.185, 0.194, 0.217; PTW 0.177, 0.161, 0.187; PPL 0.158, 0.154, 0.184; PPW 0.188, 0.164, 0.205; CI 107, 99, 105; OI 25, 26, 22; SI 90, 89, 91; PTHI 86, 77, 76; PTWI 96, 83, 86; PPI 119, 106, 111; SPI 20, 26, 27; ACI 2.66.


A normal queen (dorsal face of propodeum drops steeply from postscutellum and much of propodeum appears ventral to scutellum and postscutellum, Fig. 1) with general shape, sculpture, and pilosity characters of the worker; size characters as in Figures 4 and 5.


Crematogaster curvispinosa  HNS  is a very common but inconspicuous ant. It is most common in brushy habitats, road edges, young second growth, and other highly disturbed areas. Colonies are small, and there is no evidence of polydomy. They are most often found nesting in narrow gauge dead stems. Nests may occur in dead grass stalks or vine stems that are only 2mm outside diameter. They also occur opportunistically in single chambers of antplants such as Cecropia  , Cordia alliodora  , Triplaris  , and myrmecophytic melostomes.

Colonies are small, a few dozen workers at most. Ergatogynes are common, and the reproductive structure of colonies is variable. Along with workers and brood, I have collected nests that contained (1) no apparent reproductive, (2) one ergatogyne, (3) one physogastric queen, or, in one case, (4) two ergatogynes and one physogastric queen. I have never seen a nest with multiple queens, or multiple ergatogynes in the absence of a queen. In one case I collected a nest with workers, brood, and one ergatogyne and kept it alive in the laboratory for about one year. The colony was not closely monitored or cared for, but sporadic feeding and observations yielded a surprising result. After about two months I found the ergatogyne wandering alone outside the nest tube, and she soon died. What remained in the tube were some adult workers, several large larvae, some queen pupae, and one callow alate queen. There was no worker brood. Several months later there were some adult males in the nest, but my notes are incomplete regarding other contents. Nearly a year from the time of collection the nest contained 14 queens, some with ragged wing stubs but most fully alate, a few workers, and a brood pile. Thus the colony began with an ergatogyne, workers, and brood, went through a bottleneck with only workers and unmated queens (no males), then later reconstituted a colony capable of producing new queens and workers. There were no other nests of curvispinosa  HNS  in the laboratory, and the laboratory was in the United States, far from the native range of curvispinosa  HNS  , so contamination from other colonies or access to males from other colonies was not possible. It appears that C. curvispinosa  HNS  can produce female offspring from only workers and virgin queens. This is similar to Soulié's (1960) observation of thelytokous parthenogenesis in C. scutellaris  HNS  .

Crematogaster curvispinosa  HNS  can tolerate nesting in close proximity to larger ant species. Twice I have found curvispinosa  HNS  nesting in the same hollow stem with another ant species, Camponotus  HNS  in one case and Dolichoderus  HNS  in another, with the two nests separated by only a narrow sawdust plug. Colonies can occupy single Cecropia  internodes that are sandwiched between internodes occupied by Azteca  HNS  .

Workers appear to forage day and night. Isolated foragers are common on low vegetation, and they are frequent visitors at extrafloral nectaries.


This species has uniquely shaped propodeal spines, with broad divergent bases and an abrupt transition to small posteriorly directed tips. Other characters include abundant short stiff setae on the face, clathrate or lattice-like sculpture on the pronotum, and appressed tibial pilosity. In Costa Rica the species cannot be confused with any others. Crematogaster curvispinosa  HNS  appears relatively uniform over a broad range, usually with no closely related species. Only in Peru have I found what appear to be two morphospecies with the same general habitus as curvispinosa  HNS  but differing in details of sculpture and pilosity.

The type worker of curvispinosa  HNS  is headless, but it is clearly the widespread species I have called curvispinosa  HNS  . The diagnostic characters are clearly visible: clathrate sculpture on pronotum, raised mesonotum, broad-based curving spines, punctate petiole with ventral tooth, and stiff erect setae throughout.

Santschi's obscura  HNS  is a junior primary homonym. At NHMB I found a single worker with a label matching the published type locality for obscura  HNS  , but the worker was identified as " obunea  HNS  ," not obscura  HNS  . There is no published record of the name obunea  HNS  in Crematogaster  HNS  . There was no Crematogaster  HNS  material labeled obscura  HNS  at NHMB, and I presume Santschi erred in matching his labeling to the published description. I assume the worker labeled " obunea  HNS  " is the holotype of Santschi's obscura  HNS  (not Smith's).

The type of Santschi's kemali  HNS  is lighter-colored than normal, but otherwise matches the characters of curvispinosa  HNS  . I have not examined the types of Wheeler's accola  HNS  and panamana  HNS  , but it is clear from the descriptions that they fall within the range of variation of curvispinosa  HNS  as defined here.


Austria, Wien, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien


Switzerland, Geneva, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle


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


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


Switzerland, Basel, Naturhistorisches Museum


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