Pheidole tepicana

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Pheidole tepicana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. tepicana
Binomial name
Pheidole tepicana
Pergande, 1896

Pheidole tepicana casent0173653 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole tepicana casent0173653 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


In the Santa Cruz Mountains of Arizona, Stefan Cover (unpublished notes) found a colony of tepicana in an open area with opuntia and dwarf acacia surrounded by blue oak, nesting under a stone in the sun; the nest contained a cache of seeds. The species is notably flexible in its choices of nest site. Near Tucson, Arizona, I observed a colony in an open grassy area, spread out beneath multiple stones. In western Texas, Moody and Francke (1982) found numerous colonies, nesting mostly under stones and in open soil; one colony each was also beneath a log, a piece of metal, and a grass clump respectively. And finally, at Cuernavaca, Wheeler (1901b) observed that colonies were common beneath pats of half-dried cow dung. (Wilson 2003)


Pheidole tepicana has three worker castes: a minor, major and supermajor.

Mackay and Mackay (2002) - The deep, semicircular emargination (cut out margin) along the anterior border of the clypeus of the major, separates this species from all the others in New Mexico. The anterior 1/3 of the head is finely rugose, the posterior lateral lobes have fine, transverse striae, and the remainder of the head is smooth and glossy. The humeral angles are poorly developed, as are the lateral connules. The dorsum of the pronotum is smooth and glossy, much of the side of the mesosoma is glossy, and the propodeal spines are small and somewhat upturned. The minor worker is a small, brown specimen, with pale brown legs. The dorsum of the head is smooth and glossy, as is much of the mesosoma, especially the pronotum. The propodeal spines are small, consisting of tiny angles.

Also see the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


Texas, Arizona southward to at least Jalisco, Mexico: often locally abundant. (Wilson 2003)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 35.404° to 16.332286°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States.
Neotropical Region: Mexico (type locality).

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.


Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.



Association with Other Organisms

  • This species is a host for the encyrtid wasp Holcencyrtus wheeleri (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (associate, primary host).
  • This species is a associate (details unknown) for the encyrtid wasp Pheidoloxenus wheeleri (a associate (details unknown)) (Quevillon, 2018).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Orasema viridis (a parasite) (Wheeler, 1907; Baker et al., 2019; Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Orasema viridis (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode independent; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Orasema wheeleri (a parasite) (Wheeler, 1907; Gahan, 1940; Baker et al., 2019; Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Orasema wheeleri (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode independent; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a host for the pteromalid wasp Pheidoloxenus wheeleri (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode unknown; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).


Unusual in having three discrete worker castes.

P. tepicana. Photo by Alex Wild.
P. tepicana. Photo by Alex Wild.

The following images are provided by Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology and



Major and Supermajors

Additional images can be found on the Pheidole tepicana category page.


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

  • carbonaria. Pheidole carbonaria Pergande, 1896: 881 (s.w.) MEXICO. Junior synonym of tepicana: Emery, 1901b: 119.
  • rugifrons. Pheidole rugifrons Pergande, 1896: 880 (s.) MEXICO. Junior synonym of tepicana: Emery, 1901b: 119.
  • tepicana. Pheidole tepicana Pergande, 1896: 878 (s.w.) MEXICO. Taber & Cokendolpher, 1988: 95 (k.). Senior synonym of carbonaria, rugifrons: Emery, 1901b: 119; of instabilis, kingi (and its junior synonym townsendi), torpescens: Creighton & Gregg, 1955: 24. See also: Wilson, 2003: 601.
  • kingi. Pheidole kingi André, 1898: 244 (s.w.) MEXICO. Combination in P. (Allopheidole): Forel, 1912f: 237. Senior synonym of townsendi: Emery, 1922e: 105. Junior synonym of tepicana: Creighton & Gregg, 1955: 24.
  • townsendi. Pheidole townsendi André, 1898: 246 (s.w.) MEXICO. Junior synonym of kingi: Emery, 1922e: 105.
  • instabilis. Pheidole kingi subsp. instabilis Emery, 1901b: 120 (s.w.) U.S.A. Wheeler, W.M. 1908e: 433 (q.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1953b: 74 (l.). Junior synonym of tepicana: Creighton & Gregg, 1955: 24.
  • torpescens. Pheidole kingi subsp. torpescens Wheeler, W.M. 1915b: 404 (s.w.) U.S.A. Junior synonym of tepicana: Creighton & Gregg, 1955: 24.

Type Material

Mexico Tepic, Nayarit, collected by Eisen and Vaslit. American Museum of Natural History and National Museum of Natural History - as reported in Wilson (2003) 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 member of the “pilifera complex” of the larger pilifera group; for a characterization of the complex, see under Pheidole pilifera.

P. tepicana is distinguished within the complex as follows. Trimorphic, with major, supermajor, and minor castes.

Major: posterior half of dorsum of head except for occiput smooth and shiny; pronotum low and smoothly convex; mesonotal convexity very low; postpetiole from above diamond-shaped. Supermajor: posterior third of head covered by a mixture of rugulae and rugoreticula; rugoreticulum present between eye and antennal fossa.

Minor: propodeal spines reduced to denticles; head almost entirely smooth and shiny.


  • Major (Austin, Texas): HW 1.12, HL 1.34, SL 0.62, EL 0.12, PW 0.54.
  • Supermajor (Guadalajara, Mexico): HW 1.62, HL 2.00, SL 0.74, EL 0.14, PW 0.74.
  • Minor (Austin, Texas): HW 0.52, HL 0.56, SL 0.52, EL 0.12, PW 0.32.

COLOR Major: reddish yellow.

Supermajor: light reddish brown.

Minor: brownish yellow.

Pheidole tepicana Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: major (plus partial frontal head view of a supermajor). Lower: minor. TEXAS: major and minor from Austin (syntypes of the synonymy kingi subsp. instabilis Emery); supermajor from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Scale bars = 1 mm.

Lectotype Specimen Labels


  • 2n = 18, karyotype = 18M (USA) (Taber & Cokendolpher, 1988).


Name based on type locality. (Wilson 2003)

Worker Morphology

  • Caste: trimorphic


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Alatorre-Bracamontes, C.E. and M Vasquez-Bolanos. 2010. Lista comentada de las hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) del norte de México. Dugesiana 17(1):9-36
  • Creighton W. S., and R. E. Gregg. 1955. New and little-known species of Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. University of Colorado Studies. Series in Biology 3: 1-46.
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Emery C. 1901. Remarques sur un petit groupe de Pheidole (Hymén. Formic.) de la région sonorienne. Bulletin de la Société Entomologique de France 1901: 119-121.
  • Fernandes, P.R. XXXX. Los hormigas del suelo en Mexico: Diversidad, distribucion e importancia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).
  • Field Museum Collection, Chicago, Illinois (C. Moreau)
  • Forel A. 1912. Formicides néotropiques. Part III. 3me sous-famille Myrmicinae (suite). Genres Cremastogaster et Pheidole. Mémoires de la Société Entomologique de Belgique. 19: 211-237.
  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Mackay W. P., and E. E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 400 pp.
  • McDonald D. L., D. R. Hoffpauir, and J. L. Cook. 2016. Survey yields seven new Texas county records and documents further spread of Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren. Southwestern Entomologist, 41(4): 913-920.
  • Miguelena J. G., and P. B. Baker. 2019. Effects of urbanization on the diversity, abundance, and composition of ant assemblages in an arid city. Environmental Entomology doi: 10.1093/ee/nvz069.
  • Moody J. V., and O. F. Francke. 1982. The Ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of Western Texas Part 1: Subfamily Myrmicinae. Graduate Studies Texas Tech University 27: 80 pp.
  • O'Keefe S. T., J. L. Cook, T. Dudek, D. F. Wunneburger, M. D. Guzman, R. N. Coulson, and S. B. Vinson. 2000. The Distribution of Texas Ants. The Southwestern Entomologist 22: 1-92.
  • Pergande, T. 1895. Mexican Formicidae. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences Ser. 2 :850-896
  • Rivas-Arancibia, S. P., H. Carrillo-Ruiz, A. Bonilla-Arce, D. M. Figueroa-Castro, and A. R. Andres-Hernandez. 2014. Effect of disturbance on the ant community in a semiarid region of central Mexico. Applied Ecology and Environmental Research 12: 703-716.
  • Taber S. W., and J. C. Cokendolpher. 1988. Karyotypes of a dozen ant species from the southwestern U.S.A. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Caryologia 41: 93-102.
  • Vasquez-Bolanos M. 2011. Checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Mexico. Dugesiana 18(1): 95-133.
  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133
  • Wheeler W. M. 1908. The ants of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. (Part I.). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 24: 399-485.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1915. Some additions to the North American ant-fauna. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 34: 389-421.
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1985. A checklist of Texas ants. Prairie Naturalist 17:49-64.
  • Wilson, E.O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Genus. Harvard University Press