Pheidole vafra

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Pheidole vafra
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. vafra
Binomial name
Pheidole vafra
Santschi, 1923

Pheidole vafra casent0178063 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole vafra casent0178063 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


This appears to be a widespread weedy species (Longino, 2019). The very wide distribution suggests that vafra may be carried by human commerce. In any case, it inhabits marginal habitats. I found nests common in sandy soil at two localities along the southern coast of Tobago, where it coexists with the very widespread marginal-habitat specialist Pheidole jelskii. Near the Nariva Swamp of Trinidad, Stefan Cover found a colony at the border between a coconut grove and mangrove swamp, nesting under a fallen coconut leaf in sand; and a second colony at 550 m in Trinidad’s Arima Valley, nesting in the hard-packed clay of a road running through a small coffee plantation. (Wilson 2003)


See the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


This hitherto obscure species turns out to be one of the most widespread of all New World Pheidole. (Wilson 2003)

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Brazil (type locality), Colombia, Costa Rica (type locality), French Guiana, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

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.

  • vafra. Pheidole vafra Santschi, 1923d: 51 (s.w.) BRAZIL.
    • Senior synonymy of idiota: Wilson, 2003: 244.
    • Senior synonym of laticornis: Longino, 2019: 63.
  • idiota. Pheidole idiota Santschi, 1923d: 53 (s.w.q.) ARGENTINA. Subspecies of vafra: Santschi, 1929d: 284. Material of the unavailable name maculifrons referred here by Brown, 1981: 526. Junior synonym of vafra: Wilson, 2003: 244.
  • laticornis. Pheidole laticornis Wilson, 2003: 203, figs. (s.w.) COSTA RICA.
    • Junior synonym of vafra: Longino, 2019: 63.

Taxonomic Notes

The images of the types of P. vafra match the types of Wilson's P. laticornis.

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


From Wilson (2003): A small, brown member of the diligens group, whose major has a faintly bicolorous head; smooth anterior third of the head dorsal surface; abundant medium-length pilosity; relatively short antennal scapes, which are curved near their base; and equilaterally triangular postpetiolar spine in side view.

Close to Pheidole blumenauensis, Pheidole perryorum and Pheidole rochai, but major differing in its shorter scapes, eyes larger than in rochai (but not in blumenauensis) and other details of body form and sculpturing in both major and minor, as illustrated.

See also less similar Pheidole laevifrons, Pheidole lemur, Pheidole peregrina, Pheidole pubiventris and Pheidole seeldrayersi.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Lectotype major: HW 0.96, HL 1.04, SL 0.74, EL 0.20, PW 0.54. Paralectotype minor: HW 0.52, HL 0.64, SL 0.74, EL 0.14, PW 0.36.

COLOR Major: gaster medium brown, rest of body light brown except for anterior one-fourth of head capsule, which is a slightly contrasting brownish yellow.

Minor: concolorous medium brown.

Pheidole vafra

A member of the diligens group close to Pheidole coffeicola and Pheidole vafra and differing from that species and other diligens group members by the following combination of traits.

Major: scape broadened at the base, wider there than near the apex; head dark yellow, with brown spot on vertex; propodeal spines reduced to denticles.

Minor: propodeal spines reduced to denticles; occiput narrowed, with nuchal collar. Other traits as illustrated.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Holotype major: HW 1.02, HL 1.08, SL 0.76, EL 0.18, PW 0.58. Paratype minor: HW 0.48, HL 0.60, SL 0.76, EL 0.14, PW 0.34.

COLOR Major: body and head dark yellow, with fuzzy, circular brown spot on vertex, except for gaster, which is yellowish brown.

Minor: mesosoma, petiole, and appendages dark yellow; head, postpetiole, and gaster yellowish to plain light brown.

Pheidole vafra Wilson 2003.jpg

Pheidole idiota. Upper: lectotype, major. BRAZIL: Blumenau, Santa Catarina. (Outer antennal scape is from near Nariva Swamp, Trinidad.) Lower: minor. TRINIDAD: near Nariva Swamp (compared with paralectotype minor). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Pheidole laticornis Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: holotype, major. Lower: paratype, minor. Scale bars = 1 mm.

Type Material

Pheidole idiota: BRAZIL: Blumenau, Santa Catarina. Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel - as reported in Wilson (2003)

Pheidole vafra: COSTA RICA: Palmar, Puntarenas, col. E. O. Wilson. Museum of Comparative Zoology


Pheidole idiota: L vafra, artful, craftful, allusion unknown. (Wilson 2003)

Pheidole vafra: L laticornis, broad-horned, referring to the basally widened scape.


  • Santschi, F. 1923d. Pheidole et quelques autres fourmis néotropiques. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 63: 45-69 (page 51, soldier, worker described)
  • Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. (page 244, Senior synonym of idiota, fig. major, minor described)