Pheidole californica

Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. -1--1: 564-565

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scientific name

Pheidole californica


n. syn.

Pheidole californica  HNS Mayr

Pheidole californica  HNS Mayr 1870b: 987. Syn.: Pheidole oregonica Emery  HNS 1895d: 291, n. syn. ; Pheidole californica var. incenata Wheeler  HNS 1915b: 407, synonomy by Creighton 1950a:173; Pheidole californica var. satura Wheeler  HNS 1915b: 407, synonomy by Creighton 1950a: 173; Pheidole californica subsp.pyramidensis Emery  HNS 1922c: 105 (replacement name for nevadensis Wheeler  HNS 1915b: 408, junior primary homonym ofpheidole nevadensis  HNS Forel 190 lj: 353), synonomy by G. C. and J. Wheeler 1986g: 18; Pheidole californica var. shoshoni Cole  HNS 1933b: 618, synonomy by Gregg 1959: 1-9; Pheidole californica var. hagermani Cole  HNS 1936a: 35, synonomy by Creighton 1950a:173.

Types Naturhist. Mus. Wien.

Etymology Based on the state of origin of the type series.

diagnosis A member of the " pilifera  HNS complex" of the larger pilifera  HNS group, comprising calens  HNS, californica  HNS, carrolli  HNS, cavigenis  HNS, clementensis  HNS, creightoni  HNS, hoplitica  HNS, littoralis  HNS, micula  HNS, pilifera  HNS, polymorpha  HNS, rugulosa  HNS, senex  HNS, soritis  HNS, tepicana  HNS, and torosa  HNS, which complex is characterized by the following traits. Major: dorsal head surface extensively sculptured; occipital lobes horizontally rugulose (or, in carrolli  HNS smooth, in littoralis  HNS foveate, and in micula  HNS and soritis  HNS carinulate); postpetiole from above angulate and. trapezoidal to spinose. Minor: eye medium-sized to large.

P. californica  HNS is distinguished within this complex by the following combination of traits. Color yellow.

Major: all of pronotum smooth and shiny; humerus in dorsal-oblique view low and smoothly convex; propodeal spine in side view equilaterally triangular; postpetiole from above trapezoidal. Closest to clementensis  HNS, from which it differs by its smaller size (HW in californica  HNS major about 0.90 mm, in clementensis major  HNS about 1.10 mm) and proportionately larger eye (major EL/HW 0.20 in californica  HNS versus 0.13 in clementensis  HNS). Also, the sides of the major head are smooth and shiny in some, but not all, californica  HNS populations (Philip S. Ward, personal communication).

measurements (mm) Major (Palo Alto, California): HW 0.92, HL 1.06, SL 0.54, EL 0.18, PW 0.44.

Minor (Palo Alto): HW 0.48, HL 0.56, SL 0.48, EL 0.12, PW 0.28.

Color Major: concolorous yellow; gaster a slightly contrasting brownish yellow.

Minor: yellow with a slight brownish tinge.

Range California north to Washington, east to Idaho and New Mexico.

Biology Colonies have been found nesting variously under objects, in oak galls, or in open sandy soil (Cole 1934b; Mallis 1941). Stefan Cover reports a population in moist spots in a grazed Chihuahuan desert at 1295 m in Hidalgo, extreme southwest New Mexico. The colonies were nesting in soil with a high clay content; the most common other ant species was Leptothorax pergandei  HNS.

figure Upper: major. Lower: minor. CALIFORNICA: Palo Alto. Type locality: San Francisco. Scale bars = 1 mm.