A common and abundant forest species.
One of a number of species once suggested (Wilson 2003) to be the single highly variable species P. bilimeki. P. anastasii overlaps in its range with the now more strictly defined P. bilimeki. These two species maintain clear ecology differences, primarily in habitat preferences, that are diagnostic: P. anastasii nests in plant cavities in the shaded understory of mature or second growth wet forest. In contrast, bilimeki nests almost anywhere, including in rotten wood and under stones, but occurs mostly in open and highly disturbed areas.
The following can be helpful in separating bilimeki-like Phediole (Longino and Cox 2009):
- Scape relatively short (SI 95–108, lower cloud of points in Fig. 1); posterior margin of vertex somewhat flattened; color usually brown, yellow in northern parts of range . . . . . Pheidole bilimeki
- Scape relatively long (SI typically 103–125, upper cloud of points in Fig. 1); posterior margin of vertex more rounded (Fig. 2 B, C, E); color brown or yellow . . . . . 2
- Color clear yellow orange (gray brown in one population on Caribbean coast of Panama); typically nesting in live plant cavities in wet forest understory . . . . . Pheidole anastasii
- Color red brown to nearly black; typically nesting in open, disturbed habitats . . . . . 3
- Scapes relatively shorter (SI 108–114, see Fig. 1) (major worker with face uniformly red brown) . . . . . Pheidole jamaicensis
- Scapes relatively longer (SI 114–125, see Fig. 1) (major worker with face bicolored, dark red brown anteriorly, yellow posteriorly) . . . . . Pheidole punctatissima
Keys including this Species
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
Distribution based on AntMaps
Distribution based on AntWeb specimens
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Longino and Cox (2009) - Pheidole anastasii is a very abundant species in the low arboreal stratum of primary wet forest understory throughout Costa Rica. Nests may be found in almost any kind of cavity or sheltered space, and they may augment their nest space by building galleries and tunnels with carton or earthen construction. Nests have been observed in cavities in live stems of Psychotria (Rubiaceae), Witheringia asterotricha (Solanaceae), and Pausandra trianae (Euphorbiaceae), bracts of Ischnosiphon (Marantaceae), clasping petiole bases of Araceae, and the bulbous leaf bases of Tillandsia bulbosa (Bromeliaceae). It is a common opportunistic inhabitant of myrmecophytes such as saplings of Cecropia, portions of myrmecophytic Ocotea trees abandoned by Myrmelachista, and myrmecophytic Piper species. In every Costa Rican population of myrmecophytic melastomes (those with petiolar or laminar pouches; Conostegia setosa, Clidemia sp., Tococa sp.) that has been observed (Corcovado, La Selva, Tortuguero), this species has been the most abundant inhabitant. It was the dominant ant in a study of Conostegia setosa at La Selva (Tennant 1994). The species also nests in dead sticks and branches on or above the forest floor, and under bark flaps on tree trunks. When nests are in myrmecophytic melastomes, carton galleries may occur on the outside, connecting pouches and extending down the stem to the ground.
Colonies appear to be polydomous. Workers are generalist foragers, and may be taken at baits or in samples of sifted leaf litter. Colonies have occasionally been found as exotics in greenhouses in the United States (New York, Washington D.C.), which is no surprise given the frequency with which it is found in live plant cavities in Central America.
Specimens from the Caribbean coast of Panama, at the southernmost limit of the species, are the most aberrant. Minors and majors are identical to Costa Rican P. anastasii with respect to shape and measurements, but differ in color. Instead of being clear yellow orange, minors are a dusky gray brown and majors similar but with the posterior third or more of the head yellow (approaching Pheidole punctatissima). The specimens were collected in ant-plant domatia in forest understory, thus matching the behavior of P. anastasii.
At La Selva Biological Station, in lowland rainforest on the Atlantic slope, P. anastasii is one of the most abundant ants in the forest understory. At Sirena in Corcovado National Park in southeastern Costa Rica, P. anastasii is a common understory ant in mature and second growth forest, much like it is at La Selva.
Pheidole anastasii has a relatively consistent morphology and behavior over most of its range. Most collections are from Costa Rica (over 350 separate collection events in JTL's specimen database) but a few collections have been examined from Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico (Chiapas). All collections are from wet forest habitats, most from below 500m elevation but with a few to a maximum of 1200m. The northernmost record is from rainforest near Tikal in the Peten of Guatemala, and these specimens are indistinguishable from Costa Rican material.
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.
- anastasii. Pheidole anastasii Emery, 1896g: 76 (s.w.) COSTA RICA. Forel, 1901h: 78 (q.). Junior synonym of bilimeki: Wilson, 2003: 378. Revived from synonymy: Longino & Cox, 2009: 40.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
Minor worker: head width (not including eyes) 0.38 to 0.55mm; scape length 0.40 to 0.60mm; scape index (100 * scape length / head width) 95 to 125; face and mesosoma uniformly foveolate; promesonotal groove very weakly or not at all impressed; with short upturned propodeal spines; postpetiole broad and low, somewhat flattened, lower than petiolar node; first gastral tergite with anterior third to entire surface shagreened; pilosity on mesosomal dorsum sparse and stiff; pilosity on hind tibia fully appressed and short.
Major worker: head width 0.74 to 1.09mm; scape length 0.44 to 0.63mm; scape index 50 to 68; face largely foveolate rugose, with variable extent smooth and shiny posteriorly; hypostomal margin with two closely-spaced medial teeth; first gastral tergite with anterior third to entire surface shagreened.
In comparison with P. bilimiki, minor workers of Pheidole anastasii have relatively longer scapes and the posterior margin of the head is more rounded, both majors and minors are uniformly yellow orange.
- Emery, C. 1896g. Studi sulle formiche della fauna neotropica. XVII-XXV. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 28: 33-107 (page 76, soldier, worker described)
- Forel, A. 1901m. Formiciden des Naturhistorischen Museums zu Hamburg. Neue Calyptomyrmex-, Dacryon-, Podomyrma- und Echinopla-Arten. Mitt. Naturhist. Mus. Hambg. 18: 43-82 (page 78, queen described)
- Longino, J. T. and D. J. Cox. 2009. Pheidole bilimeki reconsidered (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa. 1985:34-42.
- Sarnat, E. M., G. Fischer, B. Guenard, and E. P. Economo. 2015. Introduced Pheidole of the world: taxonomy, biology and distribution. Zookeys. 1-109. doi:10.3897/zookeys.543.6050
- Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, [ix] + 794 pp.: 794pp (page 378, Junior synonym of bilimeki)