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Genus Pheidole - Big-headed Ants

Ants on a beetle on a moth - Pheidole dentata Pheidole pilifera Small black ants - Pheidole - female Sonoran Desert ants - Pheidole xerophila Possibly Pheidole ? - Pheidole dentigula - female ant fight! - Pheidole obscurithorax Major, Pheidole rhea? - Pheidole rhea Pheidole? - Pheidole
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Formicoidea (Ants)
Family Formicidae (Ants)
Subfamily Myrmicinae
Tribe Attini
Genus Pheidole (Big-headed Ants)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
formerly in Pheidolini
Explanation of Names
Greek pheid- 'sparing', 'thrifty'(1), or more exactly pheidole 'thriftiness', 'grudging use'
74 described spp. in our area(2) and >1000 worldwide + perhaps that many or more undescribed; the most abundant and diverse ants of the New World(3)
Species are relatively few in northern states, more diverse in the Southeast, and especially rich in the desert Southwest.
minors 1.5-4 mm, majors 2-5 mm, supermajors of P. rhea 8 mm
Nearly indistinguishable from small Aphaenogaster workers, but the latter never have big-headed majors, and none are as small as most Pheidole.
cosmopolitan, but particularly diverse in the tropics(4); in the New World, n. US to Argentina(3)
Some species are seed harvesters(4), many are generalist predators/scavengers
This is probably the largest genus of ants in the world, possibly rivaled only by Camponotus, both with an unknown number, but easily over 1000 species. They have pronounced worker caste dimorphism, especially in seed harvesting species; major workers are larger than minors and have disproportionately large heads. A few species have an even larger supermajor caste, and are thus trimorphic. Scavenger predators are usually less strongly dimorphic, and longer legged than the seed harvesters.
Internet References
Works Cited
1.Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
2.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
3.Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus
Wilson E.O. 2003. Harvard University Press. 818 pp.
4.Wild A. (-2014) Myrmecos