Pheidole jelskii

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Pheidole jelskii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species group: fallax
Species: P. jelskii
Binomial name
Pheidole jelskii
Mayr, 1884

Pheidole jelskii casent0178031 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole jelskii casent0178031 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


P. jelskii is a species that nests in bare soil and open spaces. As such it is well adapted to disturbed habitats of all kinds, from cultivated fields to pastures to roadsides, as well as marginal natural environments such as beaches and river banks. In many places it is extremely abundant, although colony densities vary locally. In the early 1890s H. H. Smith (in Forel 1893j) encountered it only twice on St. Vincent, which given the intensity of his collecting, suggests relative rarity, whereas in the 1990s Stefan Cover and I found it ubiquitous and in dense populations in the nearby islands of Grenada and Barbados. Mature colonies are large, with worker populations numbering into the many hundreds or even thousands. They typically construct conspicuous crater nests with slit-shaped entrances in open soil, but also less regular nests with irregular entrances in vertical banks of soil in heavily disturbed locations. The minors forage singly over distances of up to ten meters or more, and are extremely swift and efficient at laying odor trails over even very loose soil to recruit other minors as well as majors to dead insects and sugar baits. The majors release a strong fetid odor, possibly from skatole, when the colonies are disturbed. (Wilson 2003)


See the extensive discussion by Wetterer et al. (2015) in the identification section of Pheidole obscurithorax and the description and images by Wilson (2003) in the nomenclature section below.

Keys including this Species


Widespread throughout the West Indies, thence south through South America to southeastern Brazil and northern Argentina. (Wilson 2003)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 25.074° to -31.365°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Dominican Republic, French Guiana (type locality), Greater Antilles, Grenada, Haiti, Netherlands Antilles, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago.

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.


San Cristóbal, República Dominicana. Video by Judá Isaí Martínez Uribe.

Wheeler (1905), Bahamas - This species is carnivorous. Its nests are flat moundlets, about four inches in diameter, built in sandy, grassy places. The soldiers have the rank odor so characteristic of the ants belonging to the genus Eciton.

Association with Other Organisms

Explore-icon.png Explore: Show all Associate data or Search these data. See also a list of all data tables or learn how data is managed.

This species is a host for the strepsipteran Caenocholax fenyesi (a parasite) (Cook, 2019).




MCZ-ENT00020688 Pheidole jelskii-hef.jpgMCZ-ENT00020688 Pheidole jelskii-hal.jpgMCZ-ENT00020688 Pheidole jelskii-had.jpgMCZ-ENT00020688 Pheidole jelskii-var.jpgMCZ-ENT00022819 Pheidole jelskii-hal.jpgMCZ-ENT00022819 Pheidole jelskii-had.jpgMCZ-ENT00022819 Pheidole jelskii-var.jpg
. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.


MCZ-ENT00020689 Pheidole fallax-f.jpgMCZ-ENT00020689 Pheidole fallax-l.jpgMCZ-ENT00020689 Pheidole fallax-d.jpgMCZ-ENT00020689 Pheidole fallax-r.jpg
. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.


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

  • jelskii. Pheidole jelskii Mayr, 1884: 34 (s.w.) FRENCH GUIANA. Forel, 1893g: 400 (q.m.). Subspecies of fallax: Forel, 1893g: 400. Raised to species: Emery, 1894g: 390. Subspecies of fallax: Emery, 1906c: 155; Forel, 1912f: 221. Raised to species, senior synonym of antillensis, arenicola, emiliae and material of the unavailable name retifera referred here: Wilson, 2003: 306.
  • arenicola. Pheidole jelskii var. arenicola Emery, 1894g: 390 (footnote) (s.w.) BRAZIL. Subspecies of fallax: Forel, 1908c: 370; Santschi, 1923d: 58. Junior synonym of jelskii: Wilson, 2003: 307.
  • antillensis. Pheidole jelskii var. antillensis Forel, 1901e: 356 (s.) ANTILLES. Subspecies of fallax: Bolton, 1995b: 317. Junior synonym of jelskii: Wilson, 2003: 307.
  • emiliae. Pheidole fallax r. emiliae Forel, 1901e: 352 (s.w.q.) BRAZIL. Junior synonym of jelskii: Wilson, 2003: 307.

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

See the extensive discussion by Wetterer et al. (2015) in the identification section of Pheidole obscurithorax


From Wilson (2003): A member of the fallax group, similar to Pheidole fallax, Pheidole obscurithorax, Pheidole puttemansi, Pheidole roushae, Pheidole tobini and Pheidole valens, and especially the common and widespread fallax, with which it is easily confused.

Major: posterior half of dorsal surface of head completely carinulate; pronotum transversely carinulate; anterior fourth to third of central strip of first gastral tergite shagreened; head tapered toward occiput in side view, as depicted.

P. jelskii differs from P. fallax as follows and as shown: in major, petiole distinctly lower and descending to the peduncle by a much less concave curve, and scapes longer (Scape Length/Head Width 0.60–0.70 as opposed to 0.50–0.59 in fallax major); and in minor, occiput much narrower and nuchal collar thinner than in fallax.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Holotype major: HW 1.48, HL 1.54, SL 1.00, EL 0.24, PW 0.80. Minor (Cuzco Amazónico, Madre de Dios, Peru): HW 0.56, HL 0.76, SL 1.00, EL 0.20, PW 0.42.

COLOR Major: body medium reddish brown, mandibles dark reddish brown.

Minor: body and most of appendages dark brown, often almost blackish brown, tarsi and mandibles light brown.

Pheidole jelskii Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: unique holotype, major. Lower: minor (Cuzco Amazónico, near Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru, associated with major compared with lectotype). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Type Material

Cayenne, French Guiana, collected by “M. Jelski”. Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna - as reported in Wilson (2003)


Named after the collector, M. Jelski. (Wilson 2003)


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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