Pheidole cataractae

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Pheidole cataractae
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. cataractae
Binomial name
Pheidole cataractae
Wheeler, W.M., 1916

Pheidole cataractae usnment00688291 p 1 high.jpg

Pheidole cataractae usnment00688291 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Nests in pieces of rotting dead wood on the floor of rainforest. A media (minor-major intercaste) was found in the Peruvian series. Having studied a colony I collected north of Manaus and maintained in the laboratory, I agree with the following assessment by Stefan Cover (personal communication), based on his experiences at Cuzco Amazónico: “P. cataractae belongs to a small guild of rainforest Pheidole characterized by agile, fast-moving workers and soldiers [majors] with relatively long appendages; it nests in ephemeral sites on the forest floor and finds food sources rapidly, but retreats if competition shows up.” The adaptation represents a behavioral (and in long appendages, anatomical) convergence to many species of the formicine genus Paratrechina. (Wilson 2003)


See the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


Known from one locality each in Guyana, north of Manaus in Brazil, and Cuzco Amazónico, near Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru. (Wilson 2003)

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Brazil, Guyana (type locality), Peru.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb






The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • cataractae. Pheidole cataractae Wheeler, W.M. 1916c: 6 (s.w.) GUYANA. See also: Wilson, 2003: 178.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.


From Wilson (2003): A brown, unusually small and slender member of the diligens group.

Major: body mostly smooth and shiny, with portions of mesosoma and propodeum foveolate, and with widely spaced longitudinal carinulae over part of dorsal head surface, their interspaces foveolate or smooth and shiny.

Minor: very slender; propodeal spines reduced to denticles. A media, possibly a developmental anomaly, was found in a series from Cuzco Amazónico, in Amazonian Peru. Close to Pheidole calimana, distinguished from that species by its well-developed propodeal spines and shorter cephalic carinulae in the major and smooth, shiny head in the minor.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Lectotype major: HW 0.94, HL 0.94, SL 0.76, EL 0.14, PW 0.44. Paralectotype minor: HW 0.42, HL 0.50, SL 0.64, EL 0.10, PW 0.28.

COLOR Major: body medium brown, with mandibles and anterior quarter of head capsule dark yellowish brown; antennae and legs medium yellowish brown.

Minor: body concolorous light brown, appendages a lighter shade of yellowish brown.

Pheidole cataractae Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: lectotype, major. Lower: paralectotype, minor, on top; and head, mesosoma, and waist, a minor from Fazenda Dimona, 90 km north of Manaus, Brazil, col. E. O. Wilson. Scale bars = 1 mm.

Type Material

Kaieteur, Guyana. Museum of Comparative Zoology - as reported in Wilson (2003)


Gr cataract, waterfall, alluding to the Kaieteur Fall, at the type locality. (Wilson 2003)


  • Wheeler, W. M. 1916c. Ants collected in British Guiana by the expedition of the American Museum of Natural History during 1911. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 35: 1-14 (page 6, soldier, worker described)
  • Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. (page 178, fig. major, minor described)