Pheidole innupta

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Pheidole innupta
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. innupta
Binomial name
Pheidole innupta
Menozzi, 1931

Pheidole innupta casent0635479 p 1 high.jpg

This species occurs only in cloud forest habitats, where it nests in large epiphyte mats in the canopy, and occasionally in dead wood near ground level.



Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Costa Rica (type locality), Peru.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Longino (2009) - Foundress queens occur under epiphyte mats, and in some cases pleometrosis occurs (a group of over five queens together with brood and small workers has been observed). Colonies are large, with many workers pouring forth when the nest is disturbed. Soldiers tend to stay deep within the colony. The feeding habits of this species are unknown. Foragers have never been observed outside of the nests. Observations have been almost entirely during the day, so they could forage nocturnally. Alternatively, they may have specialized and perhaps plant-derived food sources within the nests. Scattered mealybugs may be found on epiphyte roots in the nests.

Both species (in reference to Pheidole alfaroi) are so far only known from Costa Rica, although similar montane species occur in the mountains of Colombia. Pheidole innupta workers are dark brown to black; P. alfaroi workers are light orange brown. Pheidole innupta occurs in cloud forest habitats in the northern cordilleras of Costa Rica, from the Cordillera Volcanica Central to the Cordillera de Guanacaste. Pheidole alfaroi is only known from the Cordillera Volcanica Central. Pheidole innupta occurs in heavily forested areas, nesting under thick epiphyte mats either in the canopy or in gaps where epiphyte-laden branches have fallen. Pheidole alfaroi occurs more on the ground, either under second growth forest or in cloud forest pastures, nesting under dead wood.

In the Project ALAS quantitative sampling along the Barva Transect in Costa Rica, intensive sampling was carried out at 1100m, 1500m, and 2000m elevation. The 1100m site was all dense primary forest. The 1500m site was an ecotone between primary forest and actively maintained cow pastures. The 2000m site was a mosaic of primary forest and regenerating second growth vegetation. Ants were collected using Winkler samples of sifted litter from the forest floor, flight intercept traps, and Malaise traps. At the 1100m site, P. alfaroi was moderately abundant in all sample types, while P. innupta was rare, occurring in only one of 20 Malaise traps. At the 1500m site P. alfaroi was one of the most abundant ants, occurring in all sample types and in many hand collections of nests under dead wood, and P. innupta was absent. At the 2000m site, P. innupta workers were collected occasionally in Malaise traps and flight intercept traps, but never in Winkler samples from the forest floor litter. Pheidole alfaroi was absent. These observations suggest that P. innupta and P. alfaroi are ecological replacements, with P. innupta being arboreal and adapted to the coldest conditions and highest elevations, while P. alfaroi is ground-nesting and adapted to slightly warmer, lower elevation, and/or more disturbed habitats. This is an interesting species pair to observe with respect to climate change.



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

  • innupta. Pheidole innupta Menozzi, 1931d: 200, fig. 7 (s.w.q.) COSTA RICA. Junior synonym of alfaroi: Wilson, 2003: 165. Revived from synonymy: Longino, 2009: 38.

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


Type Material

Longino (2009) - Syntype major, minor worker, gyne: Costa Rica, Vara Blanca (Schmidt) DEIB (examined).


  • Longino, J.T. 2009. Additions to the taxonomy of New World Pheidole. Zootaxa 2181: 1-90. PDF
  • Menozzi, C. 1931d. Qualche nuova formica di Costa Rica (Hym.). Stett. Entomol. Ztg. 92: 188-202 (page 200, fig. 7 soldier, worker , queen described)
  • Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, [ix] + 794 pp.: 794pp (page 165, Junior synonym of alfaroi)