Pheidole elecebra (Wheeler)

Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. -1--1: 576

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Pheidole elecebra (Wheeler)


Pheidole elecebra (Wheeler)  HNS 

Sympheidole elecebra Wheeler  HNS  1904a: 8. Combination in Pheidole  HNS  by D. R. Smith 1979.

Types Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard.

Etymology L elecebra  HNS  , freeloaders, a social parasite.

Diagnosis A very small member of the pilifera  HNS  group, a permanent, workerless social parasite of Pheidole ceres  HNS  , distinguishable at once by the enormous curved, hornlike lateral extensions of the postpetiolar node; otherwise overall normal in appearance for a Pheidole  HNS  queen.

Measurements (mm) Syntype queen: HW 0.58, HL 0.60, EL 0.22 (SL and PW not measured). Color Queen: light brown.

Range Known from several records in Colorado between 2000 and 2200 m; the preferred habitat is the same as that of its host, that is, primarily pinyon-cedar-oak woodland (Gregg 1963).

Biology Wheeler (1904a, 1910b), from an examination of a living host colony and its elecebra  HNS  guests, concluded that the inquiline behaves like Anergates atratulus  HNS  of Europe in preventing the host colony from producing new reproductives (queens and males) of its own. Contrary evidence was obtained by Stefan Cover, who rediscovered the species in 1994. One mixed colony he collected near North Cheyenne, Colorado, contained a dealate elecebra  HNS  queen, many winged elecebra  HNS  queens, and queen pupae of the parasite, but also abundant host ( ceres  HNS  ) minor and major brood, along with 400-600 adult host minors and majors; this combination constitutes virtual proof that a reproducing host queen was also present. A second colony contained beyond 200-300 adult host minors and majors, only adult parasite males and parasite male pupae. This combination suggests the absence of a host queen.

figure Queen. COLORADO: 2.2 km north of North Cheyenne, Colorado Springs, 2200 m (Stefan Cover), compared with syntype. (Type Locality: Manitou, Colorado, 2130 m, W. M. Wheeler.) Scale bar = 1 mm.