Pheidole elecebra

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Pheidole elecebra
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. elecebra
Binomial name
Pheidole elecebra
(Wheeler, W.M., 1904)

Pheidole elecebra casent0103151 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole elecebra casent0103151 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Pheidole elecebra is a workerless inquiline within the nests of Pheidole ceres. Wheeler (1904a, 1910b), from an examination of a living host colony and its elecebra guests, concluded that the inquiline behaves like Tetramorium atratulum of Europe in preventing the host colony from producing new reproductives (queens and males) of its own. Contrary evidence was obtained by Stefan Cover, who rediscovered the species in 1994. One mixed colony he collected near North Cheyenne, Colorado, contained a dealate elecebra queen, many winged elecebra queens, and queen pupae of the parasite, but also abundant host (ceres) minor and major brood, along with 400–600 adult host minors and majors; this combination constitutes virtual proof that a reproducing host queen was also present. A second colony contained beyond 200–300 adult host minors and majors, only adult parasite males and parasite male pupae. This combination suggests the absence of a host queen. (Wilson 2003)

At a Glance • Workerless Inquiline  



See the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


From Wilson (2003): Known from several records in Colorado between 2000 and 2200 m; the preferred habitat is the same as that of its host, that is, primarily pinyon-cedar-oak woodland (Gregg 1963).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


This species is a workerless inquiline for the ant Pheidole ceres (a host).


This species is a workerless parasite.


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

  • elecebra. Sympheidole elecebra Wheeler, W.M. 1904a: 8, pl. 2, figs. 8-11 (q.m.) U.S.A. Combination in Pheidole: Smith, D.R. 1979: 1370. See also: Wilson, 1984: 328; Wilson, 2003: 576.

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


From Wilson (2003): DIAGNOSIS A very small member of the pilifera group, a permanent, workerless social parasite of Pheidole ceres, distinguishable at once by the enormous curved, hornlike lateral extensions of the postpetiolar node; otherwise overall normal in appearance for a Pheidole queen.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Syntype queen: HW 0.58, HL 0.60, EL 0.22 (SL and PW not measured).

COLOR Queen: light brown.

Pheidole elecebra Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Queen. COLORADO: 2.2 km north of North Cheyenne, Colorado Springs, 2200 m, col. Stefan Cover, compared with syntype. Scale bars = 1 mm.

Type Specimen Labels

Type Material

Manitou, Colorado, 2130 m, col. W. M. Wheeler. Museum of Comparative Zoology - as reported in Wilson (2003)


L elecebra, freeloaders, a social parasite. (Wilson 2003)


  • Gregg, R. E. 1963. The Ants of Colorado, With Reference to their Ecology, Taxonomy, and Geographic Distribution. Boulder: U. of Colorado Press, xvi + 792 pp.
  • Smith, D. R. 1979. Superfamily Formicoidea. Pp. 1323-1467 in: Krombein, K. V., Hurd, P. D., Smith, D. R., Burks, B. D. (eds.) Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Volume 2. Apocrita (Aculeata). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. i-xvi, 1199-2209. (page 1370, Combination in Pheidole)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1904a. Three new genera of inquiline ants from Utah and Colorado. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 20: 1-17 (page 8, pl. 2, figs. 8-11 queen, male described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: Their Structure, Development and Behavior. New York: Columbia U. Press, xxv + 663 pp.
  • Wilson, E. O. 1984b. Tropical social parasites in the ant genus Pheidole, with an analysis of the anatomical parasitic syndrome (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Soc. 31: 316-334 (page 328, see also)
  • Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. (page 576, fig. queen described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Gregg, R.T. 1963. The Ants of Colorado.
  • Wilson, E.O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Genus. Harvard University Press