This species occurs in cloud forest habitats. It is common at baits on the forest floor and in Winkler samples. Nests have been found in chambers in rotten wood and under loose bark of rotten wood. At Cerro Saslaya in Nicaragua, this was a common species on the mossy peak at 1600 m. Populous nests could be found in rotten wood beneath epiphyte mats.
Minor: face and mesosoma uniformly foveolate, face and dorsal pronotum overlain with faint reticulate rugulae to variable extent; promesonotal groove absent; propodeal spines about one half length of posterior face of propodeum; gaster smooth and shining; abundant flexuous erect setae on mesosomal dorsum and gaster; tibiae without erect setae; color light to dark brown.
Major: inner hypostomal teeth stout, closely spaced; scape base terete; face with very shallow scrobal impressions; face with subparallel, longitudinal carinae between eye and antennal fossa and between frontal carinae, foveolate in scrobal areas, posterior face and vertex lobes smooth and shiny; propodeal spines one third to one half 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 and gaster; tibiae with 0-3 suberect setae.
Measurements, minor worker: HW 0.50, HL 0.56, SL 0.48, EL 0.09, WL 0.65, PSL 0.06, PTW 0.09, PPW 0.15, CI 90, SI 94, PSLI 12, PPI 163 (n=14).
Measurements, major worker: HW 1.00, HL 1.11, SL 0.53, EL 0.14, WL 0.89, PSL 0.09, PTW 0.16, PPW 0.29, CI 90, SI 53, PSLI 9, PPI 187 (n=6).
Measurements, queen: HW 1.00, HL 0.99, SL 0.59, EL 0.28, WL 1.64, PTW 0.30, PPW 0.58, CI 101, SI 58, PPI 194 (n=5).
Pheidole nephele is very similar to another cloud forest species in the region, Pheidole rectisentis. The major worker is relatively distinct. The vertex lobes are smooth and shiny, and the dorsal surface of the mandible is smooth and shiny with small puncta. In contrast, P. rectisentis majors have coarse reticulate rugose and foveolate sculpture over the entire face, including the vertex lobes, and the mandible has coarse striae on the sides of the basal half and coarse puncta on rest of the dorsal surface. Minor workers are extremely similar. Minors of P. rectisentis have more impressed striate sculpture on the basal half of the mandibles, paralleling the difference in the majors, but the difference is subtle. Also, foveolation on the side of the head behind the eye is somewhat stronger. Pheidole rectisentis may also have a few differentiated erect setae on the tibiae.
DNA barcoding data show a clade with three subclusters: La Muralla in Honduras, Sierra de Agalta in Honduras and the Ocotal area of Nicaragua, and Cerro Saslaya in Nicaragua. This suggests one lineage with multiple allopatric populations on mountain tops in Honduras and Nicaragua, with sufficient time and reproductive isolation to allow sequence divergence among the populations.
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.
- nephele. Pheidole nephele Longino, 2019: 50, fig. 23 (w.q.) HONDURAS.
- HOLOTYPE: 1 major worker, Honduras, Olancho: 11km NNE Catacamas, 14.95031 -85.86229 ±106 m, 1470 m, 12-May-2009, cloud forest, at bait (J. Longino, JTL6513) [MCZC, unique specimen identifier CASENT0609968].
- PARATYPES: major, minor workers: same data as holotype [MCZC]; same data except JTL6509.2 [CAS]; same data except ex sifted leaf litter (J. Longino, JTL6529-s) [DZUP, JTLC, USNM].
Greek for cloud, in reference to the cloud forest habitat of this species.