Pheidole insipida

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Pheidole insipida
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. insipida
Binomial name
Pheidole insipida
Forel, 1899

Pheidole insipida casent0901555 p 1 high.jpg

Pheidole insipida casent0901555 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


This species occurs in a wide variety of habitats: dry forest, rainforest, and cloud forest, from sea level to 1800m elevation, in disturbed synanthropic habitats or less disturbed forest with intact canopy. It can be locally common. Collections are most often from baits on forest floor, or scattered workers in Winkler samples. Major workers are often recruited to baits along with minor workers. The types of P. fariasana were from a nest found beneath a stone. (Longino 2009, under the name P. mooreorum)


Longino (2009, under the name P. mooreorum) - Over the range of the species there is strong intra- and inter-populational variation. Minor workers: the pronotum may be entirely and strongly foveolate (rarely), it may show a patchwork of foveolate sculpture and smooth shiny areas, or it may be completely smooth and shining. Correlated with this is face sculpture, which is usually completely smooth and shining, but in forms with more sculpture on the promesonotum the face may have very faint patches of foveolate sculpture. Major worker: in general the anterior face has longitudinal rugulae with smooth shiny interspaces, and the posterior face is completely smooth and shining. The transition may occur abruptly or gradually, and from just anterior to the level of the compound eyes to somewhat posterior to them. The medial area between the frontal carinae may be completely smooth and shining, or with variable numbers of longitudinal rugulae parallel to and beginning at the frontal carinae and fading medially. The strength and extent of face rugulae correlates with strength of pronotal sculpture on minor workers. The setae projecting from the side of the head in face view vary from long and suberect to short and appressed.

The minor workers of the type series of P. fariasana from Tamaulipas have the intermediate sculptural condition, in which the pronotum is mostly smooth and shining, with a narrow band of foveolate sculpture at the anterior margin and wrapping around onto the ventrolateral margin. The major workers have the face rugulae extending posterior to the compound eyes, and there are abundant suberect setae projecting from the side of the head. In the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, most collections have the intermediate sculptural condition, but the full range of variation occurs. At lower elevations in northern Chiapas, in wet forest areas from 500–1000m, the most common condition is for the pronotum of the minor worker to be almost to entirely smooth and shiny, and the side of the head in the major worker with shorter, more decumbent setae. The type series of P. mooreorum, from Veracruz, matches this lowland form, with the setae on the side of the head even more reduced than on the lowland Chiapas material.

One minor worker from a 500m site in northern Chiapas (Metzabok) and one minor worker from a lowland site in the Lacandon rainforest of northern Chiapas (Playón de la Gloria) have a faint purple sheen, like Pheidole purpurea. Unlike P. purpurea, the pronotum is smooth and shining. These collections do not have associated majors, and given the similarity of minor workers of P. mooreorum and P. purpurea, these may be variants of P. purpurea instead of P. mooreorum.

Sparse minor worker collections from montane sites in Guatemala, and multiple collections with major workers from lowland dry forest habitat in northwestern Costa Rica are, on average, like the type series of P. fariasana. Occasionally the sculpture is more extensive. In some lighting conditions the Costa Rican material may have a very faint purple sheen.

In the Cordillera de Tilarán in Costa Rica, in moist forest around 1400m elevation, a relatively uniform population occurs in which the minor workers have a strongly sculptured pronotum, and the minor workers are somewhat bicolored, with mesosoma light brown and head and gaster darker brown.

In Chiapas, Mexico, P. mooreorum is broadly sympatric with P. purpurea, with the former being more abundant in middle to high elevations and the latter relatively more abundant in the lowlands. The minor workers are indistinguishable in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, where both have an intermediate sculptural condition on the minor worker pronotum and neither have the purple sheen. In the Chiapas lowlands they are more differentiated, with P. mooreorum having a smooth pronotum and no purple sheen, and P. purpurea having a sculptured pronotum and often a purple sheen.

Given the high degree of morphological variability, it is likely that P. mooreorum will resolve into multiple cryptic species.

Keys including this Species


Mexico (Tamaulipas) to Costa Rica (northern Pacific lowlands and northern cordilleras).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 23.034° to 8.407045°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico (type locality), Nicaragua.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.



Images from AntWeb

Pheidole mooreorum jtlc000007345 head 1.jpgPheidole mooreorum jtlc000007345 profile 1.jpgPheidole mooreorum jtlc000007345 dorsal 1.jpgPheidole mooreorum jtlc000007345 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code jtlc000007345. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by JTLC.
Pheidole insipida casent0901556 d 1 high.jpgPheidole insipida casent0901556 p 1 high.jpgPheidole insipida casent0901556 h 1 high.jpgPheidole insipida casent0901556 l 1 high.jpg
Syntype of Pheidole insipidaWorker (major/soldier). Specimen code casent0901556. Photographer Will Ericson, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMUK, London, UK.
Pheidole mooreorum jtlc000007344 head 1.jpgPheidole mooreorum jtlc000007344 profile 1.jpgPheidole mooreorum jtlc000007344 dorsal 1.jpgPheidole mooreorum jtlc000007344 label 1.jpg
Worker (major/soldier). Specimen code jtlc000007344. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by JTLC.


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

  • insipida. Pheidole kingi r. insipida Forel, 1899c: 76 (s.w.) MEXICO.
    • Status as species: Kempf, 1972a: 195.
    • Senior synonym of fariasana: Longino, 2019: 40.
    • Senior synonym of mooreorum: Longino, 2019: 40.
  • fariasana. Pheidole fariasana Wilson, 2003: 155, figs. (s.w.) MEXICO.
    • Junior synonym of mooreorum: Longino, 2009: 56.
    • Junior synonym of insipida: Longino, 2019: 40.
  • mooreorum. Pheidole mooreorum Wilson, 2003: 209, figs. (s.w.) MEXICO.
    • Junior synonym of insipida: Longino, 2019: 40.

Type Material

Taxonomic Notes

Longino (2019) - Pheidole insipida was overlooked in Wilson's 2003 revision. AntWeb images of the major worker match the common, widespread species that heretofore was identified as P. mooreorum. I have collected material of this species 50 km north of the type locality, and from the nearby type locality of P. mooreorum. This material closely matches the images of the type.


A member of the diligens group, similar in various characters to Pheidole coffeicola, Pheidole davidsonae, Pheidole gagates, Pheidole hoelldobleri, Pheidole peregrina, Pheidole spilota, Pheidole venatrix and Pheidole zelata, distinguished as follows.

Major: head and body overall richly pilose; sides of head in full-face view relatively straight and parallel; mesonotal convexity prominent, its apex seen from the side tilted forward; humerus in dorsal-oblique view lobose, and pronotum weakly bilobose; postpetiole elliptical from above; rugoreticulum absent from head, and carinulae absent from frontal lobes.

Minor: occiput narrowed, with nuchal collar; dorsal promesonotal profile in dorsal-oblique view smoothly rounded; head and body abundantly pilose.


  • Holotype major: HW 1.12, HL 1.24, SL 0.86, EL 0.20, PW 0.62.
  • Paratype minor: HW 0.66, HL 0.78, SL 0.94, EL 0.14, PW 0.44.

COLOR Major: head and body rich medium reddish brown, appendages light reddish brown.

Minor: head and body plain dark brown; appendages light to yellowish brown except for tarsi, which are yellow.

Pheidole mooreorum Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: holotype, major. Lower: paratype, minor. Scale bars = 1 mm.


Pheidole mooreorum: Named in honor of Gordon and Betty Moore, in recognition of their outstanding contribution in service and support to tropical conservation, hence the habitats in which the Pheidole ants will continue to exist.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Branstetter M. G. and L. Sáenz. 2012. Las hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de Guatemala. Pp. 221-268 in: Cano E. B. and J. C. Schuster. (eds.) 2012. Biodiversidad de Guatemala. Volumen 2. Guatemala: Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, iv + 328 pp
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Fernandes, P.R. XXXX. Los hormigas del suelo en Mexico: Diversidad, distribucion e importancia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Longino J. T. 2009. Additions to the taxonomy of New World Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 2181: 1-90.
  • Longino J. T. 2019. Pheidole (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of Middle American wet forest. Zootaxa 4599: 1-126
  • Longino J. T. L., and M. G. Branstetter. 2018. The truncated bell: an enigmatic but pervasive elevational diversity pattern in Middle American ants. Ecography 41: 1-12.
  • Longino J. et al. ADMAC project. Accessed on March 24th 2017 at
  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133
  • Wilson, E.O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Genus. Harvard University Press