This species occurs in cloud forest habitats. It is common at baits on the forest floor and in Winkler samples. Three nests have been observed. One was in a small patch of exposed clay soil. Workers came to a bait from a small round entrance hole. Excavation was attempted, following a very small tunnel in clay. It meandered and was very difficult to follow. At about 20 cm deep a few adult males and a larva were discovered loose in the jumbled clay, presumably from a disrupted chamber. Nearby were a few major workers in part of the tunnel system. Workers seemed to be thinly spread in tiny tunnels in the clay and a distinct chamber was never uncovered. Another nest was observed in a trail-side clay wall, following minor and major workers that came to bait. The entrance was a small clay turret. A third nest was observed under a stone.
Minor: face and mesosoma uniformly foveolate, with variably developed small smooth area on lower margin of lateral pronotum; promesonotum evenly convex, promesonotal groove absent or very weakly impressed; propodeal spines one fourth to one third length of posterior face of propodeum; gaster smooth and shining; abundant erect setae on mesosomal dorsum and gaster; tibiae with 2-3 erect setae; color orange (or rarely bicolored; see Comments).
Major: inner hypostomal teeth stout, closely spaced; scape base terete; face with distinct scrobes, delimited dorsally by frontal carinae and forming concave trough below them, ventral and posterior margins less delimited, surface of scrobe smooth and shiny; head depressed posteriorly, forming transverse depression between frontal carinae and vertex lobes, particularly visible in profile; face surface generally shiny, space between frontal carinae smooth, space between eye and antennal fossa and vertex lobes with widely separated, subparallel, longitudinal carinae; propodeal spines one third length of posterior face of propodeum; gastral dorsum smooth and shining; sides of head with abundant erect setae; abundant flexuous erect setae on mesosomal dorsum, tibiae, and gaster.
Measurements, minor worker: HW 0.44, HL 0.48, SL 0.44, EL 0.10, WL 0.59, PSL 0.04, PTW 0.08, PPW 0.13, CI 93, SI 99, PSLI 9, PPI 159 (n=13).
Measurements, major worker: HW 0.88, HL 1.05, SL 0.44, EL 0.14, WL 0.86, PSL 0.07, PTW 0.18, PPW 0.32, CI 85, SI 50, PSLI 8, PPI 184 (n=10).
This species is part of a complex of species discussed under Pheidole andersoni. Three widely separated populations are here identified as P. natalie because they are morphologically very similar. The populations are a site in the Sierra Mazateca in Oaxaca, Mexico; Cusuco National Park in Honduras; and specimens from two sites in Nicaragua, Cerro Musún and Saslaya National Park. DNA barcodes closely cluster specimens from the two Nicaragua sites. However, there are no sequence data for specimens from Honduras and Mexico. Given the similarity of species across the complex, the three populations could easily be separate lineages that are not necessarily part of a single clade.
The population in Cusuco National Park in Honduras showed color polymorphism. At some baits the minor workers were all the usual uniform yellow orange. In others, minor workers showed the harlequin coloration of Pheidole balatro, which is sympatric at the site, and Pheidole zannia, which occurs in other parts of Honduras. Pheidole natalie and P. zannia are similar and probably closely related. One possibility is that there is introgression or hybrization between P. natalie and P. zannia, with Cusuco being a contact zone. One bait with a strong recruitment had both color forms, and there was intergradation to some extent.
Mexico (Oaxaca) to Nicaragua
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
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.
- natalie. Pheidole natalie Longino, 2019: 49, fig. 10 (w.) NICARAGUA.
In honor of Natalie Vandeven Longino, the newest member of the family.