Pheidole

Wheeler, W. M., 1922, The ants collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition., Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 45, pp. 39-269: 126-127

publication ID

20597

persistent identifier

http://treatment.plazi.org/id/2914DE6B-3E02-8526-767D-E4211B6D475D

treatment provided by

Christiana

scientific name

Pheidole
status

 

Pheidole  HNS  Westwood

Small ants with the worker strongly dimorphic, the two forms being designated as the worker and soldier. In a few species these phases are connected by intermediates(mediae).

Soldier with very large head, subrectangular or subcordate, more or less deeply notched or excised behind and with a distinct occipital furrow, on each side of which the occipital region is convex. Clypeus short, depressed, carinate or ecarinate but not elevated in the middle, the anterior border entire or notched in the middle, the posterior border extending back between the frontal carinae, which vary in length, being short in some species and in others greatly prolonged backward and forming the inner borders of more or less distinct scrobes for the antennae. Frontal area usually distinct, deeply impressed. Mandibles large, convex, usually with two apical and two basal teeth, separated by a toothless diastema. Antennae 12-jointed; the funiculus with long first joint; joints 2 to 8 small and narrow; the three terminal joints forming a well-developed club. Thorax small, usually with distinct promesonotal and mesoepinotal sutures and pronounced mesoepinotal constriction; the pro- and mesonotum raised, more or less convex, the humeri sometimes prominent, the mesonotum often with a transverse welt or torus; the metanotum sometimes represented by a distinct sclerite; the epinotum armed with spines or teeth, in profile with distinct basal and declivous outline. Petiole small and narrow, pedunculate anteriorly, the node posterior, compressed anteroposteriorly, its superior border sometimes emarginate, the ventral surface unarmed. Postpetiole broader than the petiole, convex and rounded above, contracted behind, the sides often produced as angles or conules, more rarely as spines. Gaster rather small, broadly elliptical or subcircular. Femora more or less thickened in the middle; middle and hind tibiae without spurs; tarsal claws simple.

Worker smaller than the soldier but very similar in the structure of the thorax, pedicel, and gaster; the head, however, much smaller, not grooved nor deeply excised posteriorly; the antennae longer; the mandibles less convex, with evenly denticulate apical borders. The pro- and mesonotum are proportionally less convex, and the petiole and postpetiole are more slender.

Female resembling the soldier but larger; the head proportionally smaller and shorter, usually not longer than broad and not broader than the thorax; the occiput only broadly and feebly excised. Thorax broad and massive; the mesonotum flat, overarching the pronotum in front. Epinotal spines shorter and stouter; petiole and postpetiole more massive; gaster much larger and more elongate than in the soldier. Wings long, with a discoidal cell, two closed cubital cells, and an open radial cell.

Male decidedly smaller and more slender than the female, the head small, with large, convex eyes and ocelli; mandibles small but dentate. Clypeus longer than in the soldier. Antennae 13-jointed; the scapes very short, scarcely longer than the second Funicular joint, first joint sub globular. Thorax broad; the mesonotum flattened, without Mayrian furrows, anteriorly overarching the small pronotum; epinotum unarmed. Petiole and postpetiole slender, with low nodes. Gaster slender, elongate. Genital appendages small. Cerci present. Legs long and slender. Wing venation as in the female.

The species of this very large and difficult genus are distributed over the tropics and warmer temperate areas of both hemispheres (Map 20). In the Nearctic Region the northernmost range is southern New England and Oregon; in the Palearctic, Japan and northern Italy; in the southern hemisphere it reaches Argentina and Tasmania. Emery has divided the genus into a number of subgenera and has rejected a couple of subgenera, Allopheidole  HNS  and Cardiopheidole, described by Forel and myself. The various groups have been characterized by Emery in a recently published portion of the ' Genera Insectorum' on the Myrmicinae.

Nearly all the species of Pheidole  HNS  nest in the ground, either under stones and logs or in crater or small mound nests. Many species feed exclusively on insects and often have a peculiar fecal odor precisely like that of the Dorylinae, which also have an insect diet; but many species are harvesters and store the chambers of their nests with the seeds of small herbaceous plants. This is especially true of the desert species of Pheidole  HNS  . In some species in Australia and the southern United States, the soldiers take on the function of repletes and store in their crops sweet liquid for the use of the colony during periods of food and water scarcity. One species, Pheidole megacephala  HNS  , has been carried to all parts of the tropics and has become a great pest in and about dwellings and plantations as it assiduously cultivates coccids on many economic plants and ruthlessly destroys and replaces the native ant-faunas. This has been observed in the Madeira Islands, Hawaii, Australia, and the West Indies. In all probability P. megacephala  HNS  is of Ethiopian or Malagasy origin, as it shows a great development of subspecies and varieties in these two regions and nowhere else.