Pheidole decepticon

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Pheidole decepticon
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. decepticon
Binomial name
Pheidole decepticon
Fischer & Fisher, 2013

Pheidole decepticon casent0059104 p 1 high.jpg

Pheidole decepticon casent0059104 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

P. decepticon has been found in rainforest, lowland coastal forest, Casuarina forest, old settlements, coral karst scrubland, and along roadsides.

Identification

Fischer and Fisher (2013) - Moderately small species (WL major 0.95–1.12 mm, WL minor 0.57–0.86 mm), minor and major workers with moderately short scapes and legs (SI major 46–57, FI major 64–78, SI minor 107–130, FI minor 102– 134); postpetiole of both worker subcastes with moderately large, often anteriorly situated, ventral process, propodeal spines often very short, promesonotal process absent or inconspicuous, standing hairs relatively fine, acute, and abundant, with many shorter hairs in between. Major head anteriorly longitudinally rugose and posterior 2/5 smooth and shiny (as in P. megacephala), postpetiole on average about 1.7 times wider than petiole (PpWI 155–183). Minor worker face and promesonotal dorsum smooth and shiny, head about 1.1 times longer than wide (CI 87–94), postpetiole on average about 0.7 times as long as petiole (PpLI 58–79).

Morphologically very similar to Pheidole megacephala and Pheidole megatron, the three are the only megacephala group species currently encountered on the smaller islands neighboring Madagascar. Other species, such as the previously reported Pheidole punctulata, were not collected recently on any of the islands. On Anjouan Island P. decepticon occurs together with P. megacephala and P. megatron. The minor and major workers of P. decepticon are best separated from those of the other two species by their standing hairs, which are more abundant, fine and acute compared to the more sparsely distributed standing hairs that often end in blunt or bifurcate apices in P. megacephala and P. megatron. In addition, the postpetiolar ventral process of the major workers is less roundly convex and slightly smaller in the P. decepticon specimens.

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Pheidole decepticon is a relatively widespread megacephala group species on the islands neighboring Madagascar. It occurs on the Comoros (Anjouan Island), Mayotte, Juan de Nova Island, and on the Cosmoledo Atoll of the Seychelles, which is located about 415 km northeast of Mayotte.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Comoros.
Malagasy Region: Mayotte (type locality), Seychelles.

Distribution based on AntMaps

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Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Castes

Worker

minor

major

Queen

Nomenclature

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

  • decepticon. Pheidole decepticon Fischer & Fisher, 2013: 316, figs. 15A-F (s.w.) MAYOTTE.

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

Description

Worker

Major (holotype): HW 1.29, HL 1.36, SL 0.66, MDL 0.73, EL 0.16, WL 1.02, PNH 0.43, PNW 0.61, MNH 0.67, PDH 0.35, PTL 0.38, PPL 0.24, PTH 0.23, PPH 0.25, PTW 0.17, PPW 0.28, PSL 0.14, MFL 0.87, MTL 0.65, CI 95, SI 51, MDI 57, EI 12, FI 67, PSLI 11, LPpI 96, DPpI 117, PpWI 165, PpLI 63, PpHI 109.

(n=13): HW 1.12–1.44 (1.31), HL 1.10–1.44 (1.31), SL 0.60–0.74 (0.67), MDL 0.58–0.84 (0.71), EL 0.15–0.19 (0.17), WL 0.95–1.12 (1.05), PNH 0.38–0.47 (0.43), PNW 0.58–0.69 (0.63), MNH 0.64–0.75 (0.70), PDH 0.31–0.40 (0.36), PTL 0.33–0.44 (0.39), PPL 0.23–0.28 (0.26), PTH 0.22–0.26 (0.24), PPH 0.24–0.29 (0.27), PTW 0.18–0.22 (0.20), PPW 0.28–0.37 (0.33), PSL 0.13–0.21 (0.16), MFL 0.81–0.90 (0.86), MTL 0.59– 0.78 (0.67), CI 96–103 (100), SI 46–57 (52), MDI 48–60 (54), EI 11–15 (13), FI 64–78 (70), PSLI 11–16 (12), LPpI 85–108 (97), DPpI 115–148 (127), PpWI 155–183 (166), PpLI 56–77 (67), PpHI 104–114 (110).

Head about as long as wide (CI 95–103), usually heart shaped, with convex sides and posterior emargination relatively deep (as in P. megacephala). Mandibles smooth and shiny and of moderate length (MDI 48–60), clypeus smooth with weak to superficial median and lateral carinae. Frons and sides of head anteriorly longitudinally rugose, interspaces superficially to weakly punctate. Posterior 2/5 of face, behind level where scapes end when laid back, smooth and shiny, but sometimes medially with irregular weak rugulae extending to posterior margin. Frontal carinae short to moderately short, antennal scrobe absent to inconspicuous. Scapes of medium length (SI 46–57) with decumbent to subdecumbent pilosity and few longer suberect to erect hairs along outer edge. Submedian hypostomal teeth very small to inconspicuous, median process absent. Promesonotum convex in profile, without prominent promesonotal process, posterior declivity often weakly marginate anteriorly (at posterior end of pronotum), oblique and angulate at its lower portion, humeri not laterally produced in dorsal view. Dorsum of promesonotum smooth or superficially punctate and usually with weak to superficial irregular transverse rugulae, lateropronotum weakly to superficially punctate, anteriorly weakly rugulose and medially smooth, remainder of mesosoma densely and finely punctate. Metanotal groove barely or not impressed, cross-ribs superficially developed. Spines moderately short and acute (PSI 11–16), shorter than the distance between their bases. Metafemur relatively short (FI 64–78), metatibia on inner edge with decumbent pilosity, on outer edge with decumbent to suberect pilosity. Postpetiole on average almost as high as long (LPpI 85–108), in profile with a weakly rounded to subacute, anteriorly directed, ventral process, in dorsal view trapezoidal, about 1.7 times wider than petiole (PpWI 155–183). Dorsum of petiole and postpetiole smooth to superficially punctate, remainder punctate. Gaster smooth. Standing hairs on dorsal surfaces abundant, relatively long, acute, with abundant, decumbent to suberect, shorter pilosity in between. Color orange to reddish brown, gaster often darker.

Minor (n=21): HW 0.44–0.67 (0.56), HL 0.49–0.73 (0.62), SL 0.49– 0.74 (0.66), MDL 0.24–0.41 (0.36), EL 0.10–0.13 (0.12), WL 0.57–0.86 (0.74), PNH 0.20–0.31 (0.26), PNW 0.28–0.43 (0.36), MNH 0.37–0.54 (0.47), PDH 0.18–0.29 (0.24), PTL 0.20–0.35 (0.26), PPL 0.14–0.21 (0.18), PTH 0.12–0.17 (0.15), PPH 0.13–0.21 (0.17), PTW 0.08–0.12 (0.10), PPW 0.12–0.22 (0.18), PSL 0.05–0.09 (0.08), MFL 0.49–0.80 (0.67), MTL 0.36–0.60 (0.51), CI 87–94 (91), SI 107–130 (117), MDI 52–70 (64), EI 19– 23 (21), FI 102–134 (119), PSLI 11–16 (13), LPpI 90–133 (108), DPpI 88–117 (100), PpWI 155–191 (173), PpLI 58–79 (71), PpHI 100–133 (116).

Head shape ovoid, slightly longer than wide (CI 87–94), posteriorly slightly compressed with head margin almost straight, sides convex, posterior head margin moderately to relatively wide with rounded lateral corners, medially concave, occipital carina very narrow, almost invisible in full-face view. Mandibles relatively short (MDI 52–70) and smooth, except for faint rugulation laterobasally. Clypeus and rest of face mostly smooth, clypeal carinae absent. Few concentric rugulae around antennal insertion present, with few additional longitudinal rugulae toward posterior margin of eyes. Scapes moderately long (SI 107–130), when laid back surpassing posterior head margin at least by length of tenth funicular segment, with relatively coarse, suberect to erect pilosity. Promesonotal outline in lateral view roundly convex, declining evenly from highest point toward very shallowly impressed metanotal groove, posterior process absent. Propodeum in profile about as long as high, with dorsum slightly convex. Propodeal spines often very short and reduced, much shorter than distance between their bases, subtriangular and acute (PSLI 11–16, mean 13). Pronotum smooth dorsally and laterally except superficial punctures anteriorly near the neck, mesonotum smooth dorsally, mesopleuron and propodeum punctate, sometimes superficially punctate around propodeal spiracle. Metafemur short (FI 102–134), metatibia with coarse subdecumbent to suberect pilosity and some longer suberect hairs on outer edge. Postpetiole in profile with moderately large ventral process anteriorly, on average 1.1 times longer than high (LPpI 90–133), and 0.7 times as long as petiole (PpLI 58–79). Petiole and postpetiole dorsally smooth, remainder weakly to superficially punctate. Gaster smooth and shiny. Standing hairs abundant to sometimes very abundant, slender, whitish, acute, with several longer and many shorter hairs dorsally on head, pronotum, postpetiole, and gaster. Color orange to completely brown with gaster often slightly darker.

Type Material

Holotype: (major worker), MAYOTTE, Mont Chongui, 12.95945 S, 45.1341 E, 380 m, rainforest, ex rotten log, collection code BLF18916, 28.xi.2007 (B.L. Fisher et al.) (California Academy of Sciences: CASENT0132558).

Paratypes: (3 major & 10 minor workers), Mont Chongui, 12.95945 S, 45.1341 E, 380 m, rainforest, sifted leaf litter, collection code BLF18922, 28.xi.2007 (B.L. Fisher et al.) (The Natural History Museum: CASENT0133665, CASENT0133713; CASC: CASENT0133661, CASENT0133677, CASENT0133678, CASENT0133705, CASENT0133710, CASENT0133715; Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève: CASENT0133674, CASENT0133708); (1 minor worker), Mont Chongui, 12.95945 S, 45.1341 E, 380 m, rainforest, on low vegetation, collection code BLF18897, 28.xi.2007 (B.L. Fisher et al.) (CASC: CASENT0132583); (1 minor worker), Mont Chongui, 12.996 S, 45.1343 E, 550 m, rainforest, sifted leaf litter, collection code BLF18860, 28.xi.2007 (B.L. Fisher et al.) (CASC: CASENT0125677).

Etymology

This new species is named after the nefarious alien robot warriors called Decepticons, who are the antagonists of the Autobots in the famous Transformers universe. The name is a noun in apposition and thus invariable.

References

  • Fischer, G. & Fisher, B.L. 2013. A revision of Pheidole Westwood (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the islands of the Southwest Indian Ocean and designation of a neotype for the invasive Pheidole megacephala. Zootaxa 3683, 301–356.