Pheidole vatu

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Pheidole vatu
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species group: knowlesi
Species: P. vatu
Binomial name
Pheidole vatu
Mann, 1921

MCZ-ENT00008695 Pheidole vatu hal.jpg

MCZ-ENT00008695 Pheidole vatu had.jpg

Specimen Label

Except on Viti Levu, where it was found in several localities, Pheidole vatu was collected relatively rarely. Yet it occurs on most of the major Fijian islands and only seems to be absent from Beqa and Lakeba. It was collected from leaf litter, under stones, under fallen branches, and from moss on logs, in primary and secondary rainforest, disturbed forest and along the forest edge, in elevations between 146 and 1000m. (Fisher et al. 2016)

Evolutionary Relationships
remaining Pheidole

Pheidole kava

Pheidole vatu

Pheidole ululevu

Pheidole knowlesi

Pheidole wilsoni

Pheidole roosevelti group
  (7 species)

Pheidole mendanai group
  (Solomon Islands)

Relationships of knowlesi group species based on Economo et al. (2015) and Fischer et al. (2016). One member of the group, Pheidole caldwelli, is not represented due to lack of molecular data.


Fisher et al. (2016) - knowlesi group: Major worker: head weakly to superficially punctate between rugae, scrobes broad and completely punctate, posterolateral lobes rugoreticulate; clypeus medially notched; in profile head dorsum posteriorly of frons impressed; humeri projecting obtusely laterally; gaster anteriorly widely punctate. Minor worker: head completely punctate, but mesosoma largely smooth, at least with large smooth areas present on lateral pronotum, posterior declivity of promesonotum, and on mesopleuron; promesonotal dome strongly convex in profile, with relatively steep and high posterior declivity. Queen: small (WL 1.10–1.16), legs shorter (FI 77–79); anterior clypeal margin with median notch present, longitudinal rugae reaching posterior hear margin, area between rugae superficially punctate on frons, scrobe and sides of head punctate, ventrally of scrobes and posterior head margin weakly reticulate, gaster anterodorsally rugulose and anteroventrally strongly reticulate-punctate.

Minor workers of Pheidole vatu show considerable variation in extent of punctate sculpture on the dorsal promesonotum, which can vary from uniformly weakly punctate to completely smooth and shiny. This species is the easiest to identify among the knowlesi group on Fiji. Morphologically, workers and queens of P. vatu are most similar to those of Pheidole kava, both species are slightly smaller than Pheidole knowlesi, P. vatu and Pheidole wilsoni. However, workers of Pheidole vatu can be recognized by the presence of large smooth areas on lateral and dorsal mesonotum, many specimens are almost completely smooth and shiny with only small remnants of superficial sculpture. Major and minor workers also have a highly domed promesonotum with a steep posterior declivity.

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Indo-Australian Region: Fiji (type locality).

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.

  • vatu. Pheidole vatu Mann, 1921: 431, fig. 13 (s.w.) FIJI IS.

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

Fisher et al. (2016):



Major (n = 7): HW 0.73–1.02 (0.90), HL 0.83–1.07 (0.97), SL 0.39–0.50 (0.47), MDL 0.42–0.54 (0.49), EL 0.12–0.14 (0.13), WL 0.69–0.82 (0.77), PNW 0.43–0.53 (0.48), PTL 0.27–0.35 (0.31), PPL 0.13–0.18 (0.16), PTH 0.17–0.21 (0.19), PPH 0.16–0.21 (0.18), PTW 0.14–0.17 (0.16), PPW 0.28–0.42 (0.34), PSL 0.12–0.16 (0.14), MFL 0.46–0.60 (0.56), MTL 0.34–0.45 (0.41), CI 88–96 (93), SI 48–59 (53), MDI 51–58 (55), EI 13–16 (14), FI 59–67 (62), PpI 60–79 (69), LPpI 76–100 (88), DPpI 175–242 (208), PpWI 176–247 (212), PpHI 94–100 (98). Ground sculpture on head, sides of petiole and postpetiole, anterior dorsum and venter of gaster uniformly weakly punctate. Mesosoma, dorsal petiole and postpetiole, and posterior gaster smooth and shiny. Head subrectangular, head narrower at anterior margin and at posterior corners, widest point behind frons and posterior 1/3 of sides oblique. Mandibles smooth, clypeus smooth and with very fine microsculpture, anterior margin with median notch. Antennal pit moderately excavated. Frons weakly convex in profile view, head impressed between frons and posterolateral lobes. Frontal carinae and longitudinal rugae moderately short, ending about half way between posterior eye level and posterior head margin, the posterior 1/3 of head covered with rugoreticulum. Antennal scrobe weakly defined, punctate, and weakly depressed at posterior end. Posteriorly of frons and laterally of scrobes rugae weakly reticulate. Median hypostomal tooth reduced to absent, submedian teeth small. Promesonotum in profile with a simple, convex dome, declivity angulate and posteriorly vertical. Metanotal groove not impressed. Propodeum short, significantly higher than long in profile, with relatively long, almost vertical spines. In dorsal view pronotal humeri weakly projecting with rounded corners. Mesosoma shining with weakly punctate patches and irregular transverse rugulae on pronotum. Laterally with moderately to relatively large smooth areas on pronotum, katepisternum and sometimes propodeum. Metatibia pilosity fine, decumbent with one or two subdecumbent hairs along outer edge. Standing hairs suberect, moderately long, flexuous and abundant, on gaster longer and with a relatively thicker base, shorter pilosity mostly subdecumbent. Colour dark brown, head and mandibles lighter reddish brown, funiculi and legs brown.

Minor (n = 7): HW 0.41–0.47 (0.44), HL 0.43–0.51 (0.47), SL 0.35–0.45 (0.41), MDL 0.25–0.32 (0.27), EL 0.09–0.11 (0.10), WL 0.50–0.59 (0.54), PNW 0.28–0.31 (0.29), PTL 0.19–0.22 (0.21), PPL 0.08–0.10 (0.09), PTH 0.10–0.11 (0.10), PPH 0.08–0.10 (0.09), PTW 0.08–0.09 (0.08), PPW 0.11–0.14 (0.12), PSL 0.08–0.11 (0.09), MFL 0.35–0.44 (0.40), MTL 0.25–0.32 (0.28), CI 90–96 (93), SI 85–96 (93), MDI 58–68 (62), EI 21–23 (22), FI 85–96 (92), PpI 36–48 (41), LPpI 100–114 (105), DPpI 117–156 (133), PpWI 137–156 (146), PpHI 80–90 (85). Head dorsally and ventrally densely punctate. Petiole laterally moderately punctate. Majority of mesosoma varying from weakly punctate to smooth and shiny, but always with large smooth areas on lateral promesonotum, mesopleuron and promesonotal posterior declivity. Dorsum of petiole, postpetiole and gaster smooth and shiny. Head in full-face view subrectangular, slightly longer than wide (CI 90–96), with medially concave posterior margin and convex sides. Eyes small, with 5 ommatidia in the longest row. Scapes barely surpassing posterior head margin (by less than one eye length), scape pilosity decumbent with few, very short suberect hairs along outer edge. Promesonotal outline in profile compact, with weakly convex dorsum and right angle towards steep posterior declivity. Metanotal groove shallowly impressed. Propodeum small and compact, slightly higher than long, spines acute spinose, weakly curved anteriorly, distinctly shorter than distance between their bases. Metatibia pilosity decumbent. Postpetiole lower than petiole (PpHI 80–90), usually slightly longer than high (LPpI 100–114), in dorsal view on average 1.3 times wider than long (DPpI 117–156). Standing hairs sparse, suberect, moderately long, with shorter subdecumbent pilosity in between. Head and body dark brown, mandibles, antennae, and legs lighter colored.


(n = 2): HW 0.76–0.78 (0.77), HL 0.72–0.75 (0.74), SL 0.48–0.50 (0.49), MDL 0.38–0.43 (0.41), EL 0.21–0.22 (0.22), WL 1.10–1.16 (1.13), PNW 0.71, PTL 0.41, PPL 0.21–0.22 (0.22), PTH 0.25, PPH 0.26–0.28 (0.27), PTW 0.25, PPW 0.50–0.52 (0.51), PSL 0.19–0.20 (0.20), MFL 0.60, MTL 0.45, CI 101–108 (105), SI 63–64 (64), MDI 50–55 (53), EI 27–29 (28), FI 77–79 (78), PSLI 25–26 (25), LPpI 79–81 (80), DPpI 236, PpWI 202–208 (205), PpHI 104–112 (108). Head slightly wider than long (CI 101–108), anterior margin of clypeus with shallow median notch. Scapes moderately short (SI 63–64), pilosity very fine and decumbent to subdecumbent, with one or two longer suberect hairs along outer edge. Eyes moderately small (EI 27–29). Face with longitudinal rugae reaching posterior head margin, ground sculpture on frons superficially punctate, on scrobes and sides of head weakly punctate, areas ventrally and posterior of scrobes and posterior head margin weakly reticulate. Ventral side of head weakly rugopunctate. Hypostomal margin with small median and submedian teeth. Oblique carinae on scutum reaching or almost reaching anterior margin in anterodorsal view. Lateropronotum mostly smooth with few oblique rugulae to weakly rugopunctate and anepisternum dorsolaterally sometimes weakly rugopunctate. Propodeum laterally with several weak rugulae and otherwise smooth. Posterodorsal face of propodeum weakly to superficially rugopunctate, remainder of mesosoma smooth. Petiole ventrally with weak convexity and with few irregular rugulae present on its surface. Anterodorsal face of petiole mostly smooth to mostly punctate and posterior face transversally rugulose. Postpetiole in profile with convex, punctate ventral process. In dorsal view rugulose to mostly smooth, about 2x wider than petiole (PpWI 202–208), with lateral corners extended into blunt to weakly pointed processes. Gaster mostly smooth, anterodorsally widely rugulose, ventrally with first half of sternite quite strongly reticulate-punctate. Standing hairs moderately abundant, relatively short, suberect, and light yellow. Color brown or dark brown, anterior of antennal funiculus, tibiae and tarsi lighter colored to yellow.

Type Material

FIJI, Viti Levu, Nadarivatu (W. M. Mann). Syntypes: 6 minor workers, 6 major workers (Museum of Comparative Zoology type no. 8695, examined).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Dlussky G.M. 1994. Zoogeography of southwestern Oceania. Zhivotnoe naselenie ostrovov Iugo-Zapadnoi Okeanii ekologo-geograficheskie issledovanii 48-93.
  • Fischer G., E. M. Sarnat, and E. P. Economo. 2016. Revision and microtomography of the Pheidole knowlesi Group, an endemic ant radiation in Fiji (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae). PLoS ONE 11(7): e0158544. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0158544
  • Mann W. M. 1921. The ants of the Fiji Islands. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 64: 401-499.
  • Sarnat Eli M. 2009. The Ants [Hymenoptera: Formicdiae] of Fiji: Systematics, Biogeography and Conservation of an Island Arc Fauna. 80-252
  • Ward, Darren F. and James K. Wetterer. 2006. Checklist of the Ants of Fiji. Fiji Arthropods III 85: 23-47.
  • Wheeler W.M. 1935. Check list of the ants of Oceania. Occasional Papers of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum 11(11):1-56.
  • Wheeler, William Morton.1935.Checklist of the Ants of Oceania.Occasional Papers 11(11): 3-56
  • Wilson E.O., and G.L. Hunt. 1967. Ant fauna of Futuna and Wallis islands, stepping stones to Polynesia. Pacific Insects 9(4): 563-584.
  • Wilson, Edward O. and George L. Hunt. 1967. Ant Fauna of Futuna and Wallis Islands, Stepping Stones To Polynesia. Pacific Insects. 9(4):563-584.
  • Wilson, Edward O. and Hunt, George L. Jr. 1967. Ant Fauna of Futuna and Wallis Islands, Stepping Stones to Polynesia. Pacific Insects. 9(4):563-584