Pheidole subarmata

Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. -1--1: 759-760

publication ID


persistent identifier

treatment provided by


scientific name

Pheidole subarmata


Pheidole subarmata  HNS  Mayr

Pheidole subarmata  HNS  Mayr 1884: 37. Syn.: Pheidole cornutula Emery  HNS  1890c: 52 (footnote), synonymy by Brown 1981: 526; Pheidole subarmata var. elongatula  HNS  Forel 1893j: 408, synonymy by Brown 1981: 526; Pheidole subarmata var. nassavensis Wheeler  HNS  1905c: 92, synonymy by Brown 1981: 526; Pheidole cornutula var. imbecillis Emery  HNS  1906c: 151, synonymy by Brown 1981: 526; Pheidole subarmata var. borinquenensis Wheeler  HNS  1908a: 133, syn. by Brown 1981: 526; Pheidole hondurensis Mann  HNS  1922: 25, synonymy by Brown 1981: 526; Pheidole cornutula var. dentimentum Santschi  HNS  1929d: 285, synonymy by Brown 1981: 526; Pheidole subarmata var. nefasta Santschi  HNS  1929d: 285, synonymy by Brown 1981: 526.

Types Naturhist. Mus. Wien.

etymology L subarmata  HNS  , presumably, less well armed, referring to the small propodeal spines.

diagnosis Similar to allarmata  HNS  , cramptoni  HNS  , hasticeps  HNS  , synarmata  HNS  , and triplex  HNS  , differing from them and other Pheidole  HNS  by the following combination of traits.

Major: head elongate; frontal lobes seen from the side triangular, pointing slightly downward; pronotum low and rounded, descending into the mesonotum in a weakly convex, continuous curve; propodeal spines very small; carinulae limited to the anterior half of the head, and those immediately mesad to the eyes reaching only to the posterior margins of the eyes; rest of head and body smooth and shiny.

Minor: occiput broad, lacking nuchal collar; propodeal spines reduced to denticles; except for circular carinulae of the antennal fossa, entire head and body smooth and shiny.

I have confirmed most of the synonymies made by William L. Brown (1981) and listed above.

measurements (mm) Paralectotype major (Santa Catarina, Brazil): HW 0.94, HL 1.18, SL 0.50, EL 0.14, PW 0.54. Lectotype minor: HW 0.42, HL 0.48, SL 0.42, EL 0.08, PW 0.28.

COLOR Major: reddish yellow to dark brown, including appendages; on some specimens at least, there is a diffuse round light brown spot on the vertex, as illustrated.

Minor: light yellowish brown, appendages yellow.

RANGE Pheidole subarmata  HNS  is one of the most abundant and wide-ranging species of New World Pheidole  HNS  , as evidenced by the heavy synonymic fouling cited above. It has been recorded from Veracruz, Mexico, south to Santa Catarina in southern Brazil, and widely through the West Indies, including the Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and some of the Lesser Antilles, including St. Vincent and Grenada. It has also been found on Cocos Island off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

BIOLOGY Pheidole subarmata  HNS  favors moist soil in open places, including habitats seriously disturbed by human activity -such as the edges of dirt roads, agricultural fields, coconut groves, secondary rainforest, city parks, and seashores. When exploring in the deeper rainforest is done, it is usually easy for the collector to add subarmata  HNS  to his list by searching adjacent roads and fields. On St. Vincent, the indefatigable H. H. Smith (in Forel 1893j) found colonies of this species from sea level to 460 m. The nests are usually constructed in open soil or soil beneath rocks or sod, but also occasionally in pieces of rotting wood. When in the open they are marked by irregular accumulations of excavated soil. The galleries are irregular and difficult to follow by excavation, although I was able to do so in a Costa Rican banana plantation by digging a lateral pit and shaving the soil away from the side. The colonies are relatively small, with workers numbering probably only in the hundreds. On St. Vincent, H. H. Smith observed workers foraging on the ground and bushes. He found colony-founding queens in November.

Figure Upper: major. Lower: minor. COLOMBIA: Yumbo. (Compared with syntypes from Santa Catarina, Brazil, by E. O. Wilson.) (Type locality: Cayenne, French Guiana, collected by M. Jelski.) Scale bars = 1 mm.