Pheidole barbata

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Pheidole barbata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. barbata
Binomial name
Pheidole barbata
Wheeler, W.M., 1908

Pheidole barbata casent0005747 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole barbata casent0005747 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

From Wilson (2003): According to Creighton and Gregg (1955), barbata is a desert species, which prefers to nest in light, sandy soil, although it also lives in coarse, hard-packed sand along the edges of arroyos. The nest is surmounted by a low crater 5-10 cm in diameter, and it is sometimes also surrounded by a chaff ring, suggesting that barbata is a harvester ant. Colonies excavated by Creighton comprised up to 11 majors and 73 minors, although this may be an underestimate of the real population size, since no nest queen was ever found. Similar nest structures were encountered in Deep Canyon, near Palm Springs, California, by G. C. and J. N. Wheeler (1973e).


See the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


From Wilson (2003): Western Arizona, southern Nevada, and southeastern California (Creighton and Gregg 1955; G.C. and J. N. Wheeler 1973e, 1986g).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 38.879976° to 29.53333333°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.





Images from AntWeb

Pheidole barbata casent0005748 head 1.jpgPheidole barbata casent0005748 profile 1.jpgPheidole barbata casent0005748 dorsal 1.jpgPheidole barbata casent0005748 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0005748. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by UCDC, Davis, CA, USA.


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • barbata. Pheidole barbata Wheeler, W.M. 1908e: 448 (s.w.) U.S.A. See also: Wilson, 2003: 560.

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


DIAGNOSIS From Wilson (2003): A member of the “bicarinata subgroup” of the larger pilifera group, which subgroup comprises Pheidole agricola, Pheidole aurea, Pheidole barbata, Pheidole bicarinata, Pheidole centeotl, Pheidole cerebrosior, Pheidole defecta, Pheidole gilvescens, Pheidole macclendoni, Pheidole macrops, Pheidole marcidula, Pheidole paiute, Pheidole pinealis, Pheidole psammophila, Pheidole xerophila, Pheidole yaqui and Pheidole yucatana (barbata is closest to psammophila); and is characterized by the large, forward-set eyes of both castes; and, in the major, the occipital lobes lacking any sculpturing (except in aurea'), the posterior half of the head capsule almost entirely smooth and shiny; and the postpetiolar node seen from above oval, elliptical, or laterally angulate (rarely cornulate, never spinose). P. barbata is distinguished by the absence of propodeal spines in both castes. Further: in the major, teeth absent on the hypostoma; humerus very prominently lobose in dorsal-oblique view; and spinose subpetiolar process seen in side view.

Minor: very long coarse hairs (psammophore?) line the ventral surface of the head; petiolar and postpetiolar nodes very low.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Major (Rancho Dos Palmas, California): HW 1.62, HL 1.72, SL 0.74, EL 0.26, PW 0.72. Syntype minor: HW 0.44, HL 0.54, SL 0.52, EL 0.18, PW 0.30.

COLOR Major: head brownish yellow, with occiput and area around midcenter line light brown; mesosoma, waist, and antennae brownish yellow; legs medium yellow.

Minor: concolorous light yellowish brown.

Pheidole barbata Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: major. CALIFORNIA: Rancho Dos Palmas, east of the Salton Sea. Lower: minor, syntype. Scale bars = 1 mm.

Type Material

Mojave Desert near Needles, San Bernadino Co. American Museum of Natural History and Museum of Comparative Zoology - as reported in Wilson (2003)


L barbata, bearded, alluding to the long, coarse hairs on the ventral head surface of the minor. (Wilson 2003)


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Creighton W. S., and R. E. Gregg. 1955. New and little-known species of Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. University of Colorado Studies. Series in Biology 3: 1-46.
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Johnson, R.A. and P.S. Ward. 2002. Biogeography and endemism of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Baja California, Mexico: a first overview. Journal of Biogeography 29:1009–1026/
  • Mallis A. 1941. A list of the ants of California with notes on their habits and distribution. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 40: 61-100. 
  • Reddell J. R., and J. C. Cokendolpher. 2001. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from caves of Belize, Mexico, and California and Texas (U.S.A.) Texas. Texas Memorial Museum Speleological Monographs 5: 129-154.
  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133
  • Wheeler G. C. and Wheeler J. 1973. Ants of Deep Canyon. Riverside, Calif.: University of California, xiii + 162 pp
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wilson, E.O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Genus. Harvard University Press