Pheidole lamia Wheeler

Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. -1--1: 546

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Pheidole lamia Wheeler


Pheidole lamia Wheeler  HNS 

Pheidole lamia Wheeler  HNS  1901c: 534.

Types Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard; Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist.

etymology Gr lamia  HNS  , a witch or monster that sucks blood, obviously an overstatement in reference to the bizarre head of the major.

Diagnosis A typical member of the lamia  HNS  group: the major has a phragmotic head, with the anterior portion incorporating the clypeus and mandibles flattened (truncated), and deep antennal scrobes. This species is easily distinguished from the other members of the lamia  HNS  group ( colobopsis  HNS  , pelor  HNS  , truncula  HNS  ) by the very elongate head of the major and sculpturing of its head, which consists exclusively of parallel longitudinal carinulae that extend almost all the way to the occiput; and by the reduction of the propodeal spine in the major and minor to denticles.

Measurements (mm) Lectotype major: HW 0.62, HL 0.92, SL 0.37, EL 0.00, PW 0.00. Paralectotype minor: HW 0.44, HL 0.52, SL 0.48, EL 0.06, PW 0.30. Color Major: concolorous yellow, with a faint reddish tinge. Minor: concolorous yellow.

Range Northern Florida west to at least Austin, Texas.

Biology P. lamia  HNS  is a reclusive, soil-nesting species. Feener (1981) found that the species, which is seemingly rare because of its infrequent encounters with entomologists, is actually quite abundant at the type locality (Austin, Texas), at least in the secondary oak-hackenberry woodland of the Brackenridge Field Laboratory. In both Florida and Texas mature colonies each contain 500-1500 minor workers, and a much smaller number of major workers. Nests are constructed directly in soil beneath leaf litter, and thus are unusually difficult to find. Buren et al. (1977), studying Florida colonies in laboratory nests, found that the phragmotic majors use their bulldozer-like heads effectively in defense against marauding thief ants of the genus Solenopsis  HNS  . At Austin, minor workers were observed foraging around the clock in warm weather (Feener 1981).

Figure Upper: lectotype, major. Lower: paralectotype, minor. TEXAS: Austin (W. M. Wheeler). Scale bars = 1 mm.