Pheidole vafra

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Pheidole vafra
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. vafra
Binomial name
Pheidole vafra
Santschi, 1923

Pheidole vafra casent0178063 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole vafra casent0178063 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


The very wide distribution of the species suggests that vafra may be carried by human commerce. In any case, it inhabits marginal habitats. I found nests common in sandy soil at two localities along the southern coast of Tobago, where it coexists with the very widespread marginal-habitat specialist Pheidole jelskii. Near the Nariva Swamp of Trinidad, Stefan Cover found a colony at the border between a coconut grove and mangrove swamp, nesting under a fallen coconut leaf in sand; and a second colony at 550 m in Trinidad’s Arima Valley, nesting in the hard-packed clay of a road running through a small coffee plantation. (Wilson 2003)


See the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


This hitherto obscure species turns out to be one of the most widespread of all New World Pheidole. Its records, most of which I have been able to verify, include Nicaragua, Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago, French Guiana, Amazonian Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. (Wilson 2003)

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Brazil (type locality), Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

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.

  • idiota. Pheidole idiota Santschi, 1923d: 53 (s.w.q.) ARGENTINA. Subspecies of vafra: Santschi, 1929d: 284. Material of the unavailable name maculifrons referred here by Brown, 1981: 526. Junior synonym of vafra: Wilson, 2003: 244.
  • vafra. Pheidole vafra Santschi, 1923d: 51 (s.w.) BRAZIL. Senior synonymy of idiota: Wilson, 2003: 244.

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 small, brown member of the diligens group, whose major has a faintly bicolorous head; smooth anterior third of the head dorsal surface; abundant medium-length pilosity; relatively short antennal scapes, which are curved near their base; and equilaterally triangular postpetiolar spine in side view.

Close to Pheidole blumenauensis, Pheidole perryorum and Pheidole rochai, but major differing in its shorter scapes, eyes larger than in rochai (but not in blumenauensis) and other details of body form and sculpturing in both major and minor, as illustrated.

See also less similar Pheidole laevifrons, Pheidole lemur, Pheidole peregrina, Pheidole pubiventris and Pheidole seeldrayersi.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Lectotype major: HW 0.96, HL 1.04, SL 0.74, EL 0.20, PW 0.54. Paralectotype minor: HW 0.52, HL 0.64, SL 0.74, EL 0.14, PW 0.36.

COLOR Major: gaster medium brown, rest of body light brown except for anterior one-fourth of head capsule, which is a slightly contrasting brownish yellow.

Minor: concolorous medium brown.

Pheidole vafra Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: lectotype, major. BRAZIL: Blumenau, Santa Catarina. (Outer antennal scape is from near Nariva Swamp, Trinidad.) Lower: minor. TRINIDAD: near Nariva Swamp (compared with paralectotype minor). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Type Material

BRAZIL: Blumenau, Santa Catarina. Naturhistorisches Museum Basel - as reported in Wilson (2003)


L vafra, artful, craftful, allusion unknown. (Wilson 2003)


  • Santschi, F. 1923d. Pheidole et quelques autres fourmis néotropiques. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 63: 45-69 (page 51, soldier, worker described)
  • Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. (page 244, Senior synonym of idiota, fig. major, minor described)