Pheidole cerebrosior

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Pheidole cerebrosior
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. cerebrosior
Binomial name
Pheidole cerebrosior
Wheeler, W.M., 1915

Pheidole cerebrosior casent0005753 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole cerebrosior casent0005753 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Creighton and Gregg (1955) report that the preferred habitat of cerebrosior is evergreen-oak-woodland in mountain canyons, with open desert less frequently occupied. The colonies are always small, and contain no more than 3 or 4 majors. Stefan Cover (unpublished specimen data) found numerous colonies in open Ephedra, mesquite, and mesquite-acacia desert, as well as riverine cottonwood forest, nesting variously under rocks beneath cow dung, and in open soil with multiple small crater nests. He found seed chambers in some nests and observed workers feeding on a dead beetle. A winged queen has been collected on 1 July. In Nevada, G. C. and Jeanette N. Wheeler (1986) found a single colony under a half-buried stone in yucca-larrea desert. (Wilson 2003)


Mackay and Mackay (2002) - For co-occuring Pheidole species in New Mexico, the major of this species is nearly identical to Pheidole bicarinata. It differs in that the vertex of the minor is punctate; it is smooth and shining to very finely striolate in PH. bicarinata. There is a considerable amount of variation in the sculpture of the vertex of the minor worker and is often very difficult to separate this species from Ph. bicarinata.

Also see the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


From Wilson (2003): Arizona and New Mexico, 550 to 1680 m; southern California, 950 m; Baja California, 640 m; Chihuahua, 1500 m (Creighton and Gregg 1955); numerous records by Stefan Cover (collection notes) and extreme southern Nevada (G. C. and J. Wheeler 1986).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Sagebrush, riparian, evergreen-oak associations. This species usually nests in mountain canyons (including riparian sites), between 550 and 1800 meters elevation, and is rarely found in the open deserts. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)







The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • cerebrosior. Pheidole vinelandica subsp. cerebrosior Wheeler, W.M. 1915b: 405 (s.w.) U.S.A. Raised to species: Creighton, 1950a: 175. See also: Wilson, 2003: 569.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.


From Wilson (2003): DIAGNOSIS A member of the “bicarinata complex” of the larger pilifera group; for a characterization of the complex, see under Pheidole bicarinata.

P. cerebrosior is distinguished within the complex by the following combination of traits.

Major: postpetiole seen from above very wide and conulate; propodeal spines well-developed and backward-directed; pronotal humeri with short irregular carinulae.

Minor: mesosomal pilosity comprises rows of evenly spaced pairs of erect hairs.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Lectotype major: HW 1.12, HL 1.32, SL 0.60, EL 0.14, PW 0.58. Paralectotype minor: HW 0.46, HL 0.56, SL 0.44, EL 0.12, PW 0.28.

COLOR Major: body light reddish yellow, except for the gaster, which is a slightly contrasting yellowish brown.

Minor: concolorous plain yellow.

Pheidole cerebrosior Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: lectotype, major. Lower: paralectotype, minor. Scale bars = 1 mm.

Type Material

ARIZONA: Tucson , American Museum of Natural History and Museum of Comparative Zoology - as reported in Wilson (2003)


  • Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
  • Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. (page 569, fig. major, minor described)
  • Alatorre-Bracamontes, C.E., Vásquez-Bolaños, M. 2010. Lista comentada de las hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) del norte de México. Dugesiana 17(1): 9-36.
  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 175, Raised to species)
  • Creighton, W. S. and R. E. Gregg. 1955. New and little-known species of Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Univ. Colo. Stud. Ser. Biol. 3:1-46.
  • Gregg, R. E. 1955. A new species of ant belonging to the Pheidole pilifera complex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Psyche (Camb.) 62:19–28.
  • Wheeler, G. C. and J. Wheeler. 1986. The Ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1915b. Some additions to the North American ant-fauna. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 34: 389-421 (page 405, soldier, worker described)

References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Adams T. A., W. J. Staubus, and W. M. Meyer. 2018. Fire impacts on ant assemblages in California sage scrub. Southwestern Entomologist 43(2): 323-334.
  • Bestelmeyer B. T., and J. A. Wiens. 2001. Local and regional-scale responses of ant diversity to a semiarid biome transition. Ecography 24: 381-392.
  • Bodner G. 2005. Invertebrates of the Peloncillo Region: Richness and Mystery. In Bodner, G.S., J. Atchley Montoya, R. Hanson, and W. Anderson, Editors. 2006. Natural heritage of the Peloncillo Mountain Region: a synthesis of science. World Wildlife Fund and Sky Island Alliance, Tucson, AZ. Available at
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1956. Observations of some members of the genus Pheidole in the southwestern United States with synonymy (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 31: 112-118.
  • Cover S. P., and R. A. Johnson. 20011. Checklist of Arizona Ants. Downloaded on January 7th at
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Des Lauriers J., and D. Ikeda. 2017. The ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California, USA with an annotated list. In: Reynolds R. E. (Ed.) Desert Studies Symposium. California State University Desert Studies Consortium, 342 pp. Pages 264-277.
  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Johnson, R.A. and P.S. Ward. 2002. Biogeography and endemism of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Baja California, Mexico: a first overview. Journal of Biogeography 29:1009–1026/
  • Mackay W. P., and E. E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 400 pp.
  • Mackay, W., D. Lowrie, A. Fisher, E. Mackay, F. Barnes and D. Lowrie. 1988. The ants of Los Alamos County, New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). pages 79-131 in J.C. Trager, editor, Advances in Myrmecololgy.
  • Mackay, W.P. and E. Mackay. XXXX. The Ants of New Mexico
  • Staubus W. J., E. S. Boyd, T. A. Adams, D. M. Spear, M. M. Dipman, W. M. Meyer III. 2015. Ant communities in native sage scrub, non-native grassland, and suburban habitats in Los Angeles County, USA: conservation implications. Journal of Insect Conservervation 19:669–680
  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wilson, E.O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Genus. Harvard University Press