Pheidole moerens Wheeler

Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. -1--1: 461-462

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Pheidole moerens Wheeler


Pheidole moerens Wheeler  HNS 

Pheidole moerens Wheeler  HNS  1908a: 136. Syn.: Pheidole moerens subsp. creola Wheeler  HNS  and Mann 1914: 25, n. syn.; Pheidole moerens subsp. dominicensis Wheeler  HNS  1913e: 241, synonymy by Naves 1985: 65.

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

Etymology Unknown, possibly Gr Moira, goddess of destiny.

Diagnosis Similar to exigua  HNS  , flavens  HNS  , nitidicollis  HNS  , nuculiceps  HNS  , orbica  HNS  , pholeops  HNS  , and sculptior  HNS  , easily confused with the sympatric and abundant flavens  HNS  , distinguished as follows.

Major: variably reddish brown; occiput smooth and shiny, and most of rest of head carinulate, with a small patch of rugoreticulum just behind the antennal fossa on each side; intercarinal spaces on head sparsely foveolate, subopaque to feebly shining; anterior half of pronotum carinulate; postpetiole from above elliptical.

Minor: medium to dark brown; small, loose rugoreticulum present mesad to each eye; rugulae extend posterior to eyes; all of head and mesosoma foveolate.

P. moerens  HNS  is distinguished from flavens  HNS  by the broader smooth space of the occiput and feebler intercarinular foveolation on the head of the major, and especially by the darker color and more extensive sculpturing of the minor.

Measurements (mm) Syntype major: HW 0.84, HL 0.90, SL 0.46, EL 0.10, PW 0.40. Syntype minor: HW 0.42, HL 0.48, SL 0.44, EL 0.06, PW 0.26. Color Major: medium reddish brown, with vertex a shade darker.

Minor: body medium to dark brown, appendages brownish yellow. According to Naves (1985), the shade of color in laboratory colonies fed with house flies is darker than in colonies fed only with honey.

Range Scattered populations occur in the West Indies (Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Culebra) and southern United States (Florida; Mobile, Alabama; Houston, Texas). The native range is unknown, but may be the Greater Antilles.

Biology On Sanibel Island, Florida, I found colonies of moerens  HNS  abundant, nesting in sandy soil at the base of trees in parks and around houses; and in Houston in a rotting tree limb on the ground of a park. Naves (1985) records nests in northern Florida from a wide range of sites, under boards, at the base of trees and fence posts, along tree roots, under palm leaves, inside wall crevices, but only rarely in the soil. According to Naves, the colonies are monogynous, with nuptial flights usually occurring in July. Colonies grow to populations of 600 or more workers, of which somewhat fewer than 20 percent are majors. In nature they feed on seeds and insects, the latter taken alive or scavenged.

Figure Upper: syntype, major. Lower: syntype, minor. PUERTO RICO: Utuado. (Type locality: Culebra Island, West Indies.) Scale bars = 1 mm.