Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Carebarella -- Did you mean barbarella?

I have about a dozen pinned carebarella specimens and I thought I would give identifying them a try. Originally I thought that they must be bicolor, as this seems to be the most common species and my specimens look just like the pictures on the Costa Rica webpage. However, as I began to research the literature, I realized that it would not be that easy.

Apparently, there are only three valid species of Carebarella: C. bicolor, C. alvarengai, and C. condei. With only three species, you would think that IDs would be easy, but you would be wrong. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been a single paper written about this genus since the original descriptions:

  • C. bicolor -- Emery, C. 1906. Studi sulle formiche della fauna Neotropica. Bollettino della Societa Entomologica Italiana 37: 107-194. Browse
  • C. alvarengai -- Borgmeier, T. 1937. Formigas novas ou pouco conhecidas da America do Sul e Central, principalmente do Brasil (Hym. Formicidae). Archivos do Instituto de Biologia Vegetal. Rio de Janeiro 3: 217-255. Browse or download entire file (5.9M)
  • C. condei -- Kempf, W. W. 1975. Miscellaneous studies on Neotropical ants. VI. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Studia Entomologica (N.S.) 18: 341-380. Browse or download entire file (1.9M)
Furthermore, Kempf (1975) states that
"In genus Carebarella, we know the worker caste only for bicolor. In this species, we have records of workers from northern Argentina to Costa Rica, whereas of sexual forms the records are restricted to the Argentine, southern and eastern Brazil. It is possible that the workers from Suriname and Costa Rica associated with bicolor (Kempf, 1969: 281-282) rather belong to alvarengai than to the former, although I did not detect any noticeable difference between these and the southern specimens."
I take this to mean that nobody knows what the workers of alvarengai and condei look like, and there is some possibility that they might be indistinguishable from each other. As I have found no subsequent papers, I am under the impression that this is as things stand now.

Also, as far as I can tell, there are no records of Carebarella from Ecuador at all, so I don't even have a historical record to guide me.

So.... I think I will just call all of them Carebarella sp 1 and leave it at that.

Photo: Carebarella bicolor from Costa Rica. When I type in "Carebarella" into Google, it asks me, "Did you mean barbarella?" Awesome.

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