Prionopelta modesta Forel, 1909

Ladino, Natalia & Feitosa, Rodrigo M., 2020, Taxonomic revision of the genus Prionopelta Mayr, 1866 (Formicidae: Amblyoponinae) for the Neotropical region, Zootaxa 4821 (2), pp. 201-249: 236-239

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Prionopelta modesta Forel, 1909


Prionopelta modesta Forel, 1909  

Figures 25–28 View FIGURE 25 View FIGURE 26 View FIGURE 27 View FIGURE 28 , 35C View FIGURE 35

Prionopelta modesta Forel, 1909: 241   . Lectotype worker (here designated): GUATEMALA, Forel (the top specimen of a pin with 2 workers), CASENT0102527 [MHNG] (examined by images).

Diagnosis. Lateral portion of frons with foveolate sculpturing moderately spaced and conspicuous shiny interspaces appearing as small raised margins. Twelve antennomeres. Posterior margin of subpetiolar process concave.

Worker measurements (n=5). HL 0.50–0.54; HW 0.44–0.48; SL 0.26–0.28; WL 0.54–0.67; PrL 0.24–0.28; PrW 0.22–0.32; PetNL 0.13–0.18; PetW 0.23–0.28; PetH 0.16–0.21; PetL 0.16–0.17; T1L 0.24–0.26; T1W 0.34– 0.39; TL 1.44–1.62; CI 84–88; SI 54–62; PetI 150–200; PetHI 100–123; PetWI 135–175.

Queen measurements (n=4). HL 0.48–0.58; HW 0.44–0.52; SL 0.27–0.30; WL 0.71–0.83; PrL 0.12–0.13; PrW 0.26–0.33; PetNL 0.14–0.16; PetW 0.24–0.29; PetH 0.18–0.23; PetL 0.14–0.20; T1L 0.23–0.33; T1W 0.37–0.45; TL 1.56–1.94; CI 89–91; SI 57–61; PetI 171–181; PetHI 115–128; PetWI 145–171.

Worker description. Body yellow to light brown. Integument covered by deep and dense foveolate sculpturing with conspicuous shiny spaces between the fovea on the lateral portion of frons, appearing as small raised margins in full-face view. Pubescence abundant over the entire body.

Head longer than broad; length of median tooth of mandible shorter than basal tooth; basal margin of mandible convex. Clypeus evenly rounded. Twelve antennomeres; apical ones separated by deep constrictions. Eye placed at the head midlength.

Pronotum almost as long as broad. Distance between the propodeal spiracle and the bulla of the metapleural gland corresponding to one spiracular diameter; distance between the propodeal spiracle and the propodeal dorsum corresponding to two spiracular diameters.

Petiolar node as high as long. Subpetiolar process forming a relatively broad lobe, with its anterior and posterior margins subparallel or parallel; posterior margin concave; posteroventral angle obtuse.

Queen. Like workers, with the expected morphology of Prionopelta   queens.

Male. Anterior clypeal margin medially rounded; frontoclypeal suture relatively trapezoidal and truncate medially.

Etymology. Unknown.

Distribution ( Fig. 35C View FIGURE 35 ). The species is known from northern Mexico to western Guyana.

Comments. The species was commonly considered as the only Neotropical Prionopelta   with dense sculpturing on the head dorsum, giving the appearance of an opaque integument. Although this trait can be currently used to separate P. modesta   from the other species occurring in Central America, the densest and deepest sculpturing on head dorsum of all the Neotropical species described in this work belongs to P. minuta   , from which P. modesta   can be separated by the larger body size and the concave posterior margin of the subpetiolar process.

Prionopelta modesta   is mostly distributed through Central America. Hence, the isolated records of the species in Guyana and Colombia are unexpected. We have examined a considerable number of Prionopelta   specimens from Panama and Venezuela and we were not able to recognize any P. modesta   individuals in these samples. At the same time, the P. modesta   specimens from Guyana and Colombia, examined here, fit with the species diagnosis. Thus, further collection records would be useful to better understand the distribution pattern of the species.

Natural history. The species is mainly known from litter and dead wood samples collected in tropical forests; reported at elevations of 50-1840m.

According to observations available in Brown (1960) about several colonies of P. modesta   collected at Pueblo Nuevo, Veracruz, Mexico, colonies appear to be split into sections and occupy bits of rotting wood or bark in the leaf litter. The individuals found in these fragments (workers or workers and larvae) could indicate a low level of organization or that the ants could be more or less nomadic. In a “cafeteria” experiment, several live and dead arthropods were offered, but, overall, just a timid response on the workers’ part was observed, with individuals mostly recoiling violently when their antennae came into contact with the potential prey. On the other hand, some specimens were capable of biting, hanging onto, and stinging into immobility somewhat large arthropods. Still, based on these observations, the usual prey may include small centipedes or symphylans, but further examination of nests needs to be done to determine what Prionopelta   feeds upon.

Additional material examined (56 specimens). COLOMBIA: Meta: Transecto Sumapaz , 3.8666667 -74.416664, 1120m, 09.viii.1981, T. van der Hammen col., SUM29, CASENT0260467 (1 worker) [ PSWC] GoogleMaps   . COSTA RICA: Alajuela: 6km E. Monteverde , 10.29897 -84.74932 ± 50m, 980m, 18.v.2014, J. Longino col., #8693-s, ex. sifted leaf litter, wet forest, CASENT0635127 (1 worker) [ DZUP]; CASENT0635130 View Materials (1 queen) [ JTLC]; GoogleMaps   same data, 10°18’N 84°45’W, 950m, 22.viii.1985, #861-s, LACM ENT 142643 (1 worker, 1 queen) [ JTLC]; GoogleMaps   same data, Rio Peñas Blancas , 10.3167 -84.7167, 800m, 26.iv.1987, J. Longino col., JTL1578, CASENT0039774 (1 worker) [ JTLC] GoogleMaps   . Limón: Cerro Plátano , 9.87132 -83.23955 ± 10m, 1020m,, ADMAC, #Wa-E-03-1-36, ex. sifted leaf litter, cloud forest, CASENT0636747 (1 worker) [ DZUP]; CASENT0636750 View Materials (1 queen) GoogleMaps   [ JTLC]. Res. Biol. Hitoy-Cerere , 9.65238 -83.02206 ± 25m, 530m,, ADMAC, #Wm-E-02-1-03, ex. sifted leaf litter, tropical rainforest, CASENT0632088 (1 queen) [ DZUP]; same data, 670m, #Wm-E-02-1-06, CASENT0632089 (1 worker) [ JTLC] GoogleMaps   . Puntarenas: 10km SW Pto. Jimenez , 8.46553 -83.36928 ± 30m, 240m, 12.iii.2008, J. Longino col., #6197-s, CASENT0601692 (1 worker) [ JTLC] GoogleMaps   . GUATEMALA: El Petén: Cerro Cahul , 17.00056°N 89.71992°W, 330m, 24.v.2009, J. Longino col., #6683.1, moist forest, ex. dead wood, CASENT0611043 (1 worker) [ JTLC] GoogleMaps   . Izabal: 16km ESE Morales , 15.41109°N 88.71184°W ± 28m, 440m, 19.v.2009, LLAMA, #Wm-B-04-2-03, ex. sifted leaf litter, 2° lowland rainforest, CASENT0611474 (1 worker) [ DZUP]; CASENT0611473 View Materials (1 queen) GoogleMaps   [JTLC]. GUYANA: Mt. Ayanganna Base Camp , 5.33438 -59.92477, 732m, 09.x.2002, J.S. LaPolla col., JSL021009-03- LS01, litter sample, forest, USNMENT00418417 (1 worker) [ USNM] GoogleMaps   . HONDURAS: Atlántida: 8km SSW Tela, 15.70961 -87.46828 ± 20m, 360m,, LLAMA, #Wm-C-08-2-07, ex. sifted leaf litter, tropical rainforest, CASENT0618691 (1 worker) [ JTLC]; GoogleMaps   same data, 7km SSW Tela , 15.724667 -87.451935, 190m,, #Wa-C-08-2-14, Mini-Winkler, CASENT0618342 (1 queen) [ JTLC] GoogleMaps   . Comayagua: PN Cerro Azul Meambar , 14.87160 -87.90324 ± 50km, 880m, 21.v.2010, B. Boudinot col., BEB0198, montain rainforest clearing in rotting wood or in soil, CASENT0615797 (1 worker) [ JTLC]; CASENT0615793 (1 male) GoogleMaps   [ JTLC]; same data, 14.87125 -87.90018 ± 20m, 1120m, 20.v.2010, LLAMA, #Wa-C-04-1-06, ex. sifted leaf litter, ridgetop cloud forest, CASENT0615245 (1 queen) [ JTLC] GoogleMaps   . MEXICO: Chiapas: 2.8km SE Custepec, 15°43’N 92°56’W, 1840m, 18.vii.2007, R.S.Anderson col., #2007-022, CASENT0602079 (1 worker) [ JTLC]. GoogleMaps   Laguna Metzabok , 17°08’N 91°38’W, 600m, 14.vii.2007, J. Luna-Cozar col., JTLC000009920 (1 queen) [ DZUP]; JTLC000009933 View Materials (1 worker) GoogleMaps   [ JTLC]. 12mi NW Ocozo- coautla, 3200ft, 04-05.ix.1973, A. Newton col., hojarasca, madera podrida, CASENT0810430 (1 worker) [ MIZA]. 9km SE Santo de Agua , 17°31’N 92°18’W, 50m, 14.vii.2007, R.S. Anderson col., #2007-011, CASENT0602008 (1 worker) [ DZUP]; CASENT0601990 View Materials (1 queen) GoogleMaps   [JTLC]. Nayarit: Isla Maria Madre ,, M. Cardenas col., #1712, 9076 (9 workers) [ MZSP]; same data, (4 workers) [ MZSP] GoogleMaps   . Oaxaca: Uluapan , 4km NE Ayautla, 18.06018 -96.64484 ± 200m, 440m,, ADMAC, #Wm-F-03-1-03, ex. sifted leaf litter, lowland rainforest, CASENT0640598 (1 queen) [ DZUP]; CASENT0640607 View Materials (1 worker) GoogleMaps   [JTLC]. Veracruz: Est. Biol. Los Tuxtlas, 18.58704 -95.07627 ± 30m, 170m, 31.v.2016, ADMAC, #Ba-F-01-2-04-09, CASENT0640202 (1 worker) [ JTLC]; GoogleMaps   same data, 18.58625 -95.07665 ± 20m, 180m, 29.v.2016, #Wa-F-01-2-18, ex. sifted leaf litter, tropical rainforest, CASENT0640340 (1 queen) [ JTLC]. GoogleMaps   Los Tuxtlas, 10km NW Sontecomapan, 18.58333 -95.08333, 200m, 20.iii.1985, P.S. Ward col., PSW07333 View Materials -11, rainforest, sifted litter (leaf mold, rotten wood), CASENT0260466 (2 workers) [ PSWC]. GoogleMaps   Sierra Taviscocla above Cuichapa , 04.viii.1965, W.L. Brown col., (9 workers) [ MZSP]. GoogleMaps   NICARAGUA: Jinotega: Parque Nac. Saslaya , 13.76836 -85.02344 ± 50m, 1060m, 14.v.2011, J. Longino col., #JTL7556, montane wet forest, under rotten wood, CASENT0619506 (1 worker) [ JTLC] GoogleMaps   . Matagalpa: RN Cerro Musún , 12.96817 -85.23301 ± 20m, 1060m, 02.v.2011, LLAMA, #Wm-D-01-1-07, ex. sifted leaf litter, montane wet forest, CASENT0624190 (1 worker) [ JTLC] GoogleMaps   .


Universidade Federal do Parana, Colecao de Entomologia Pe. Jesus Santiago Moure


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History


Museo del Instituto de Zoologia Agricola Francisco Fernandez Yepez


Sao Paulo, Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo














Prionopelta modesta Forel, 1909

Ladino, Natalia & Feitosa, Rodrigo M. 2020

Prionopelta modesta

Forel, A. 1909: 241