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In the Santa Cruz Mountains of Arizona, Stefan Cover (unpublished notes) found a colony of tepicana in an open area with opuntia and dwarf acacia surrounded by blue oak, nesting under a stone in the sun; the nest contained a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)

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



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 New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • 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.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) 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)


  • André, E. 1898. Description de deux nouvelles fourmis du Mexique (Hymén.). Bull. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 1898: 244-247 PDF
  • Creighton, W. S.; Gregg, R. E. 1955. New and little-known species of Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Univ. Colo. Stud. Ser. Biol. 3: 1-46 (page 24, Senior synonym of instabilis, kingi (and its junior synonym townsendi) and torpescens)
  • Emery, C. 1901c. Remarques sur un petit groupe de Pheidole (Hymén. Formic.) de la région sonorienne. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 1901: 119-121 (page 119, Senior synonym of carbonaria and rugifrons)
  • Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
  • Moody, J. V., Francke, O. F. 1982. The ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of western Texas, Part 1: Subfamily Myrmicinae. Grad. Stud. Tex. Tech Univ. 27: 1–80.
  • Pergande, T. 1896. Mexican Formicidae. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. (2) 5: 858-896 (page 878, soldier, worker described)
  • Taber, S. W.; Cokendolpher, J. C. 1988. Karyotypes of a dozen ant species from the southwestern U.S.A. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Caryologia 41: 93-102 (page 95, karyotype described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1901. Notices biologiques sur les fourmis Mexicaines. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 45: 199–205.
  • Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. (page 601, fig. major, minor described)