Pheidole vistana

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Revision as of 08:44, 3 May 2023 by SShattuck (talk | contribs) (Moved specimen images from gallery to template)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Pheidole vistana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. vistana
Binomial name
Pheidole vistana
Forel, 1914

Pheidole vistana casent0005740 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole vistana casent0005740 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


In Deep Canyon, G. C. and J. N. Wheeler (1973e) found two nests of this distinctive species under palo verde (Cercidium floridum) trees, in nests ringed by craters of sand and with very large diameters. The workers are active at dusk but not during the day. They feed exclusively on insects, attacking larger prey in groups and spread-eagling their legs to render them helpless. The workers are also very efficient at forming gangs to transport large prey to the nests. Wheeler and Wheeler called them “ghost ants,” because in dim light the legs of foraging minors could not be seen, and the bodies appeared to float above the surface. The Wheelers also reported an instance of vistana workers invading a house at Deep Canyon. (Wilson 2003)


See the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


Southern California and adjacent northern Mexico. There is a single series in the Museum of Comparative Zoology from Tucson, Arizona. (Wilson 2003)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 36.747727° to 16.519529°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

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

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.


This species seems to be exclusively entomophagous. Prey is captured by the mandibles, since the sting is vestigial. In attacking a larger insect the workers grasp its appendages and pull backwards stretching the victim and pinning it to the ground. A sticky secretion from the tip of the gaster is smeared on the prey. Surprisingly large pieces of food are transported cooperatively and rapidly to the nest. Workers are most active in the evening and on cloudy days (Pullen, 1961).

Mallis (1941 :69) found one "nest at the base of a shrub. . . . The entrance ... was an irregular opening about 1 in. by 1 1/2 in. in diameter and somewhat hidden by the branches of the shrub."

In Deep Canyon (California) we (Wheeler and Wheeler, 1973) found only 2 nests of this species. Both were under palo verde (Cercidium floridum) trees; one had 2 craters 15 cm in diameter, and the other had 1 crater 30 cm in diameter. The entrance was very large-15-38 mm in diameter. We found the workers active at dusk, but not by day nor at 3:30 A.M. A colony attempted to invade our living quarters; hence P. vistana must be regarded as a potential household pest.

Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) - There are only 3 records from 3 localities for the state, all from the Hot Desert in Clark County: 2 mi. W Logandale 1,400 ft.; Granite Spring 8 mi. W Davis Dam 1,400 ft. ; 12 mi. W Davis Dam 2,600 ft. With this last was taken a myrmecophile, Conibius opacus (LeC.) (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) (det. T.J. Spilman).

Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec





Images from AntWeb

Pheidole vistana casent0005741 head 1.jpgPheidole vistana casent0005741 profile 1.jpgPheidole vistana casent0005741 dorsal 1.jpgPheidole vistana casent0005741 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0005741. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by UCDC, Davis, CA, USA.
Pheidole vistana castype00643 head 1.jpgPheidole vistana castype00643 profile 1.jpgPheidole vistana castype00643 dorsal 1.jpgPheidole vistana castype00643 label 1.jpg
Syntype of Pheidole susannae longipesWorker. Specimen code castype00643. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Pheidole vistana castype00644 head 1.jpgPheidole vistana castype00644 profile 1.jpgPheidole vistana castype00644 dorsal 1.jpgPheidole vistana castype00644 label 1.jpg
Syntype of Pheidole susannae longipesWorker (major/soldier). Specimen code castype00644. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.


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

  • longipes. Pheidole susannae r. longipes Pergande, 1896: 885 (s.w.) MEXICO. [Junior secondary homonym of Formica longipes Latreille, 1802c: 233.] Replacement name: Pheidole grallipes Wheeler, W.M. 1916e: 40. Wheeler, W.M. 1915b: 397 (q.). Raised to species: Forel, 1899c: 65.
  • vistana. Pheidole longipes var. vistana Forel, 1914d: 272 (w.) U.S.A. Raised to species: Smith, D.R. 1979: 1374. Senior synonym of grallipes: Gregg, 1959: 22. See also: Wilson, 2003: 360.
  • grallipes. Pheidole grallipes Wheeler, W.M. 1916e: 40. Replacement name for longipes Pergande, 1896: 885. [Junior secondary homonym of longipes Latreille, 1802c: 233.] Junior synonym of vistana: Gregg, 1959: 22.

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


From Wilson (2003): Similar to Pheidole ariel, Pheidole desertorum, Pheidole portalensis, Pheidole sitiens and Pheidole skwarrae, differing from these and other members of the fallax group as follows.

Major: yellow; slender; with extremely long scapes, exceeding the occipital corners by a third their own length; all of head, mesosoma, and waist foveolate and opaque; all of first gastral tergite shagreened and opaque; rugoreticulum present just laterad to each antennal fossa.

Minor: yellow; slender; extremely long antennal scapes, exceeding the occipital border by more than half their own length; occiput narrow, with nuchal collar; all of head, mesosoma, and waist foveolate and opaque; all of central strip of first gastral tergite shagreened and opaque.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Major (La Jolla, California): HW 1.30, HL 1.48, SL 1.54, EL 0.26, PW 0.60. Minor (La Jolla, California): HW 0.64, HL 0.96, SL 1.52, EL 0.20, PW 0.44.

COLOR Major: concolorous dark yellow.

Minor: concolorous medium yellow.

Pheidole vistana Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: major. Lower: minor. CALIFORNIA: La Jolla.Scale bars = 1 mm.

Type Material

Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève - as reported in Wilson (2003)


Unknown. (Wilson 2003)


  • Forel, A. 1914d. Formicides d'Afrique et d'Amérique nouveaux ou peu connus. Bull. Soc. Vaudoise Sci. Nat. 50: 211-288 (page 272, worker described)
  • Gregg, R. E. 1959 [1958]. Key to the species of Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the United States. J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 66: 7-48 (page 22, Senior synonym of grallipes)
  • Pergande, T. 1896. Mexican Formicidae. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. (2)5: 858–896.
  • Smith, D. R. 1979. Superfamily Formicoidea. Pp. 1323-1467 in: Krombein, K. V., Hurd, P. D., Smith, D. R., Burks, B. D. (eds.) Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Volume 2. Apocrita (Aculeata). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Pr (page 1374, raised to species)
  • Wheeler, G. C. and J. Wheeler. 1973e. Ants of Deep Canyon. Riverside, Calif.: U. of California, xiii + 162 pp.
  • Wheeler, G. C. and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles.
  • Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. (page 360, fig. major, minor described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Johnson, R.A. and P.S. Ward. 2002. Biogeography and endemism of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Baja California, Mexico: a first overview. Journal of Biogeography 29:1009–1026/
  • Mallis A. 1941. A list of the ants of California with notes on their habits and distribution. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 40: 61-100. 
  • Matsuda T., G. Turschak, C. Brehme, C. Rochester, M. Mitrovich, and R. Fisher. 2011. Effects of Large-Scale Wildfires on Ground Foraging Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Southern California. Environmental Entomology 40(2): 204-216.
  • Pergande, T. 1895. Mexican Formicidae. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences Ser. 2 :850-896
  • 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 G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wilson, E.O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Genus. Harvard University Press