Pheidole synanthropica, Longino, J. T., 2009

Longino, J. T., 2009, Additions to the taxonomy of New World Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 2181, pp. 1-90 : 80-82

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Pheidole synanthropica

new species

Pheidole synanthropica   HNS new species

Figure 23

Pheidole indistincta Forel, 1899: 75   HNS (part, see P. pubiventris   HNS ). Minor workers of a mixed syntype series: Costa Rica (Tonduz) [ MHNG] (examined).

Holotype major worker. Costa Rica, Guanacaste: Bosque Humedo, Santa Rosa Nat. Park, 10.85000°N 85.61667°W, ±2000m, 300m, 15 Jul 1985 (J. Longino#0511) [ INBC, unique specimen identifier CASENT0609037].

Paratypes: major and minor workers. Same data as holotype [ BMNH, CAS, FMNH, INBC, JTLC, LACM, MCZ, MZSP, UCD, USNM].

Geographic Range

Costa Rica, Mexico (Chiapas).


With the general habitus of P. anima Wilson 2003, P. eidmanni Menozzi   HNS 1926, P. maja Forel 1886   HNS , P. piceonigra Emery 1922   HNS , and P. texticeps Wilson 2003   HNS . Minor worker: scape relatively short, SI 102-116, versus relatively longer, SI> 120 (anima, maja   HNS , piceonigra   HNS , texticeps   HNS ); katepisternum foveolate, lacking irregular rugulae, versus with irregular rugulae overlaying foveolate sculpture (anima). Major worker: base of scape terete versus base of scape flattened (anima, maja   HNS , piceonigra   HNS ); scape with no erect setae versus about 3 erect setae ( texticeps   HNS ); face with erect setae totally absent to very sparse versus with 10 or more erect setae (anima); anterior face with very reduced rugose sculpture versus with more extensive rugoreticulum ( eidmanni   HNS , based on illustration of the major worker in Wilson [2003:289]); katepisternum sculpture as in minor worker; postpetiole in dorsal view robust, with strong triangular lateral conules, versus less transverse, with rounded, not conulate sides (anima); gaster with no erect setae versus with more than 5 erect setae (anima, texticeps   HNS ).

Description of minor worker

Measurements (paratype): HL 0.59, HW 0.56, HLA 0.21, SL 0.62, EL 0.15, ML 0.71, PSL 0.08, PMG 0.02, SPL 0.04, PTW 0.12, PPW 0.17, CI 96, SI 110, PSLI 13, PMGI 4, SPLI 6, PPI 141.

Measurements (n=16): HL 0.59-0.69, HW 0.56-0.66, SL 0.62-0.68, CI 91-98, SI 102-116.

Face uniformly smooth and shining; posterior margin of vertex flattened; occipital carina narrow, not visible in full face view; scape with short appressed to subdecumbent pubescence and 0-3 longer suberect setae; promesonotal groove large, deeply impressed; propodeal spines present; pronotum and dorsal mesonotum smooth and shining; katepisternum, anepisternum, and side of propodeum foveolate; dorsal face of propodeum faintly foveolate; setae on mesosoma short and stiff, four pairs on pronotum, one pair on mesonotum, and one forward-slanting pair on propodeum; dorsal (outer) margin of hind tibia with short fully appressed to subdecumbent pilosity, 0-1 long erect hairs; first gastral tergum smooth and shining; gastral dorsum with sparse short fully appressed setae and sparse longer erect setae, appressed setae much shorter than distance among them; color brown.

Description of major worker

Measurements (holotype): HL 1.00, HW 1.03, HLA 0.31, SL 0.66, EL 0.21, ML 0.99, PSL 0.10, PMG 0.04, SPL 0.05, PTW 0.30, PPW 0.43, IHT 0.33, OHT 0.44, CI 104, SI 64, PSLI 10, PMGI 4, SPLI 5, PPI 144, HTI 74.

Measurements (n=6): HL 0.91-1.00, HW 0.88-1.03, SL 0.63-0.66, CI 97-104, SI 64-71. Mandibles smooth and shiny; clypeus smooth and flat with distinct anterior notch; face with a few concentric rugulae around antennal insertions but otherwise smooth and shiny throughout; face with sparse, fully appressed, short setae, shorter than the distance among them, erect setae totally absent to very sparse, 0-2 pairs on frontal carinae, 0-1 pair on clypeus; scape smooth and shining, terete at base, with no erect setae; hypostomal margin gently curved; median tooth small; inner hypostomal teeth acutely pointed, much closer to outer hypostomal teeth than to midline; promesonotal groove prominent, deeply impressed; propodeal spines present; mesosomal sculpture as in minor worker; dorsal (outer) margin of hind tibia with short decumbent pilosity, no long erect hairs; mesosomal dorsum with erect setae sparse to absent, 0-1 pair on posterior pronotum, 0-1 pair on mesonotum; petiolar node in dorsal view transverse, much broader than long; postpetiole in dorsal view robust, with strong triangular lateral conules; first gastral tergite smooth and shining, with sparse short appressed setae and no erect setae; color brown.


Pheidole synanthropica   HNS occurs in open, seasonally dry habitats. The type specimens were at a tuna bait in the "bosque humedo" of Santa Rosa National Park in Costa Rica, but all other collections have been from highly synanthropic habitats such as city parks, lawns, and coffee farms.


The name is in reference to this species' occurrence in open, highly disturbed areas, often near human habitation.


The syntype series of P indistincta   HNS was comprised of two different Tonduz collections later associated by Forel. The labels are spare, just "Costa Rica, Tonduz," but the minor worker series has a number 1 on the label and the lectotype major worker has a number 3 on the label. These are probably different collection events and are definitely two different species. The minor workers are P. synanthropica   HNS and the lectotype major is P. pubiventris   HNS , another widespread and highly synanthropic species.

Tonduz was one of the early naturalists in Costa Rica, working with Anastasio Alfaro at the National Museum and sending abundant ant collections to taxonomists in Europe. Most of his collections are species of forested habitats, but it is perhaps telling that what might be his first collections, with collection numbers 1 and 3, are two ant species common in urban areas in the Central Valley. I have collected P. synanthropica   HNS in city parks just a few blocks from the National Museum where Tonduz worked. I can imagine a young Tonduz being sent out behind the museum to collect his first ants.

It is remarkable that this species is not better known and just now being described. It is no doubt common throughout the highly urbanized central valley of Costa Rica, and, since it also occurs in coffee farms in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas in southern Mexico, probably occurs in similar areas throughout Central America. This is probably a case of the common ants in the back yard being ignored as eager collectors head for undisturbed forest.

Additional material examined

COSTA RICA: Heredia, Santo Domingo, 9°59'N, 84°05'W, 1100m (I. Perfecto); Puntarenas, 6km S Monteverde, 10°15'N, 84°49'W, 800m (J. Longino); Est. Biol. Los Llanos, near Santa Elena, 10°18'18"N, 84°50'14"W, 1150m (J. Longino); Monteverde, 10°18'N, 84°48'W, 1400m (S. Koptur); San Jose, Loma San Antonio, nr San Jose, 9°54'N, 84°02'W, 1300m (J. Longino); San Jose, 9°56'N, 84°05'W, 1100m (J. Longino); MEXICO: Chiapas, 15km ENE Huixtla, 15°11'N, 092°20'W, 1200m (I. Perfecto).


Switzerland, Geneva, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle


Costa Rica, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio)


United Kingdom, London, The Natural History Museum [formerly British Museum (Natural History)]


USA, California, San Francisco, California Academy of Sciences


USA, Illinois, Chicago, Field Museum of Natural History (also used by Finnish Museum of Natural History)


John T. Longino


USA, California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History


USA, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology


Brazil, Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo


USA, California, Davis, University of California, R.M. Bohart Museum of Entomology


USA, Washington D.C., National Museum of Natural History, [formerly, United States National Museum]













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