Acropyga exsanguis (Wheeler 1909)

Formicinae, Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker lateral view
worker mandible

Additional images: male genitalia, dorsal, lateral, ventral.


This species has a wide distribution, ranging from central Mexico to northern Argentina. Costa Rica: throughout country to 1400m.


Mandible with 3 teeth, basal tooth of mandible not enlarged, roughly triangular in shape; TL greater than 1.7mm; head width typically (in a nest series) 0.4-0.5mm; thoracic hairs appressed and erect, with multiple erect hairs in addition to row on posterior portion of pronotum; antennae 8-9 segmented.

Natural History

This species inhabits a variety of habitats including lowland rainforest, seasonal dry forest, and montane wet forest. It is most often encountered by looking under stones in moist areas or by sifting leaf litter from the forest floor (Winkler samples).

Twice during the wet season at La Selva Biological Station, 4-Nov-1991 and 22-Oct-1991, Longino observed massive mating swarms of males. While walking from the bridge to the dining hall at dusk, swirling clouds of males were forming above every small shrub in the grassy clearing around the station buildings. Even in the dining hall itself, small groups of males were forming aggregations above the white plates set out on the tables.

Even though Acropyga appear to be relatively rare ants when relying on common collecting methods such as manual search or litter sifting, the great clouds of flying males belie their true abundance in the habitat. Acropyga are entirely subterranean ants that live in the soil, a notoriously difficult microhabitat to sample.

Page author:

John LaPolla, Department of Entomology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901, USA.

John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.

Date of this version: 14 July 2004.
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