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Summary of Inquilinous Beetles Collected at LaSelva Costa Rica

Alexey Tishechkin and Christopher E. Carlton
June 15th - 30th, 1998

In June we traveled to LaSelva Biological Station, Heredia Province, Costa Rica, to initiate field work (click on Recent Expeditions for a general description of the trip) for the Mesynodites project. Our objectives were to determine the feasibility and success of direct collecting from termite colonies and army ant immigration columns and bivouacs, and to compare direct collecting from social insect colonies to indirect trapping methods, in this case flight intercept traps and Berlese sifting. While the main focus of this project is hetaeriine hister beetles, we were also interested in documenting as many species and host associations of inquilinous insects, so these data are summarized below in addition to the histerid data.

Bivouac sampling required scooping up entire ant masses, some of which were the size of a soccer ball, and enclosing them in a plastic bucket. These were transferred to bags and placed in a freezer. Beetles were hand-picked after most of the ants were killed by the cold. Several variations on this basic method were attempted, but ultimately hand- picking was the most effective technique. Immigration columns of army ants were sampled by stationing ourselves adjacent to the columns where they passed across trails, logs, or other cleared areas. Myrmecophiles were picked from the columns using an aspirator.

Termite nests were collected, brought back to the lab and broken up. The residues were either hand-picked for termitophiles or the occupants were extracted using Berlese funnels. Our efforts resulted in the collection of nine bivouacs, and observation of eight immigration columns. The longest single immigration column observation was five hours, with no end in sight. Two complete termite nests were collected and sampled.

Additional methods that were used included flight intercept traps, Berlese sampling, and light trapping. These additional methods were targeted mainly at non-inquilinous target taxa and general collecting, but some inquilines were captured and are included in this summary.

The results of our ant and termite sampling efforts and other putatively inquilinous taxa are reported below (Table 1). Identities of other inquilinous taxa obtained during our visit to LaSelva are also reported (Table 2). Collectors on the expedition included Alexey Tishechkin, Vicky Moseley, and Chris Carlton. Funding was provided by the International Programs office of the LSU Agricultural Center. The staphylinids listed below were identified by Dr. James S. Ashe of the Snow Entomological Museum, University of Kansas Natural History Museum. For information about the Aleocharinae mentioned below, and many images, visit the NSF Peet project page at http://www.nhm.ukans.edu/ksem/peet/peet1.htm. For additional information about the insect fauna of La Selva, visit the Arthropods of La Selva Project website.

Table 1. Ant/termite-associated Coleoptera collected at LaSelva Biological Station, Costa Rica, 15 June-30 June 1999.

Family/subfamily Genus species n Host/habitat Determined by
Ptiliidae: Cephaloplectinae ? ? 29 Eciton vagans, E. burchelli, and E. hamatum bivouacs and immigration columns Det. J.S. Ashe
? ? ? ? ? ?
Staphylinidae ? ? 181 ? ?
Aleocharinae Ecitodonia nr. E. major (Wasmann) 2 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J.S. Ashe
? Ecitomorpha aracnoides Wasmann 56 Eciton burchelli immigration column Det. J.S. Ashe
? Ectitophya simulans (Wasmann) 18 Eciton burchelli immigration column Det. J.S. Ashe
? E. gracillima Mann 11 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J. S. Ashe
? Ecitopora sp. 1 4 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J. S. Ashe
? E. sp. 2 1 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J. S. Ashe
? Ecitophila n.sp. 1 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J. S. Ashe [1].
? Tetradonia latipes Jacobson and Kistner 10

2

Eciton vagans immigration column

E. burchelli immigration column

Det. J. S. Ashe
? T. marginalis Reichensperger 1

1

13

Eciton lucanoides immigration column

E. hamatum immigration column

E. burchelli immigration column

Det. J. S. Ashe
? T. sp. 1 4 Eciton burchelli immigration column Det. J. S. Ashe
? T. sp. 2 1 Eciton burchelli immigration column Det. J. S. Ashe
? T. sp. 3 2 Eciton burchelli immigration column Det. J.S. Ashe
? n. gen. nr. Falagonia sp. 15 Arboreal Nasutitermes nest Det. J.S. Ashe [2]
? Zyras nr. Z. ectonis Mann 31 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J.S. Ashe
? Undet. nr. Ecitopora sp. 1 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J.S. Ashe
? Undet. nr. Drusilla sp. 1 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J.S. Ashe
? Pseudonmiophila sp. 1 Neivimyrmex pilosus mexicanus immigration column Det. J.S. Ashe [3]
? Adinopsis sp. 1 Eciton vagans immigration column Det. J.S. Ashe [4]
? Gyrophaena sp. 2 Eciton lucanoides immigration column Det. J.S. Ashe [5]
? Aleochara sp. 1 Arboreal nest of Nasutitermes Det. J.S. Ashe
? Abroteles ? sp. 8 Arboreal nest of Nasutitermes Det. J.S. Ashe [6]
? Termitohospes sp. 1 Arboreal nest of Nasutitermes Det. J.S. Ashe
? Generalized Lomechusini 6 species 45 Eciton spp. bivouac samples Det. J.S. Ashe
? Generalized Lomechusini 6 species 9 Arboreal Nasutitermes nest Det. J.S. Ashe [7]
Staphylininae Proxenobius borgmeiri Seevers 4 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J.S. Ashe
Tachyporinae Vatesus clypeatus complex 1

4

16

Eciton vagans bivouac

Eciton vagans immigration column

Eciton hamatum bivouac

Det. J.S. Ashe [8]
? Coproporus sp. 12 Eciton hamatum bivouac Det. J.S. Ashe [9]
Histeridae ? ? 27 22 in nests/columns of army ants, 4 in flight intercept traps, 1 with termites ?
Heteraeinae Aphanister fungifer Reichensperger ? ? Det. A. Tishechkin
? A. or n. gen. sp. 1 ? ? Det. A. Tishechkin
? Aristomorphus sp. 1 ? flight intercept trap Det. A. Tishechkin [10]
? Gallister nr. hirsuta Helava ? ? Det. A. Tishechkin
? Euxenister wheeleri ? ? Det. A. Tishechkin
? Monotonodites sp. 1 ? ? Det. A. Tishechkin
? M. sp. 2 ? ? Det. A. Tishechkin
? Mesynodites splendens sp. gr. 1 ? ? Det. A. Tishechkin
? Pulvinister nevermanni Reichensperger ? ? Det. A. Tishechkin
Histerinae Phelister sp. 1 ? with termites Det. A. Tishechkin
Carabidae ? ? 1 with Eciton sp. Det. A. Tishechkin
Leiodidae ? ? 1 with Eciton sp Det. A. Tishechkin
Scydmaenidae ? ? 1 with Eciton sp Det. A. Tishechkin
Anobiidae ? one species 6 with termites Det. A. Tishechkin
Curculionidae ? ? 1 with termites Det. A. Tishechkin

Table 2. Ant/termite-associated Coleoptera from various other localities.

Family/subfamily Genus species n Label data Det. by
Staphylinidae: Aleocharinae n. gen. nr. Mymigaster/Fauvelia sp. 2 Costa Rica, 15 km W. vol. Barba, 1100 m, 4-14 Jul. J. Longino, nest of Pachycondyle lineaticeps Det. J.S. Ashe [11]
Tachyporinae n.gen. nr. Sepedophilous?? sp. 2 Costa Rica, Monteverde, 17 May 1989, J. Longino, Cecropia obtusiforia with azteca ants Det. J.S. Ashe

Footnotes

[1] The only described species of this genus is from Brazil

[2] I have seen hundreds of specimens of this species, or several closely related species, in lowland tropical flight intercept trap samples from Honduras to Panama. I am very surprised that it has not been described, but I cannot find any description that even comes close to the very distincting secondary sexual characteristics of the male. It may be possible that it will fit in the genus Falagonia if that genus is ever revised. I have also collected it in large numbers in broken termite nests, to which it is attracted in large numbers, along with several other lomechusine species, after the nest is broken open. The record from this termite nest is almost certainly an example of this.

[3] Probably not myrmecophilous

[4] Probably not myrmecophilous

[5] Probably not myrmecophilous

[6] This identification is very uncertain. The specimens key to Abroteles in Seevers (1957) and they look the same as Abroteles when compared with identified specimens. But, they have 11-articles in the antennae instead of 10, as in Abroteles.

[7] The specimens of generalized lomechusines that were found with termite nests were almost certainly attracted to the nest after it was opened. They have no adaptations to being termitophiles and the attraction of generalized lomechusines to broken termite nests is well documented.

[8] Seevers (1965) stated that he could not find any way to distinguish among the species of the V. clypeatus complex, including, V. clypeatus, V. panamensis, and V. gigas.

[9] Probably not myrmecophilous

[10] Genus known to be army-ant associated.

[11] This species fits the description of Myrmigaster Sharp very well, except it has abdominal segment 3 narrowed only at the base, as does Fauvelia Wasmann. Sharp makes a specific statement that abdominal segment 3 of Myrmigaster is uniformly narrowed from base to apex. Myrmigaster is only known from Brazil, and Fauvelia is only known from Bolivia.