Pheidole vafra

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Pheidole vafra
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species group: diligens
Species: P. vafra
Binomial name
Pheidole vafra
Santschi, 1923

Pheidole vafra casent0178063 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole vafra casent0178063 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

This appears to be a widespread weedy species (Longino, 2019). The very wide distribution suggests that vafra may be carried by human commerce. In any case, it inhabits marginal habitats. I found nests common in sandy soil at two localities along the southern coast of Tobago, where it coexists with the very widespread marginal-habitat specialist Pheidole jelskii. Near the Nariva Swamp of Trinidad, Stefan Cover found a colony at the border between a coconut grove and mangrove swamp, nesting under a fallen coconut leaf in sand; and a second colony at 550 m in Trinidad’s Arima Valley, nesting in the hard-packed clay of a road running through a small coffee plantation. (Wilson 2003)


See the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


This hitherto obscure species turns out to be one of the most widespread of all New World Pheidole. (Wilson 2003)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 13.33333333° to -31.657°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Brazil (type locality), Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

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 vafra casent0178064 head 1.jpgPheidole vafra casent0178064 profile 1.jpgPheidole vafra casent0178064 dorsal 1.jpgPheidole vafra casent0178064 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0178064. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ALWC, Alex L. Wild Collection.
Pheidole laticornis casent0635482 h 1 high.jpgPheidole laticornis casent0635482 p 1 high.jpgPheidole laticornis casent0635482 l 1 high.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0635482. Photographer J. Longino, uploaded by University of Utah. Owned by JTLC.


Images from AntWeb

Pheidole laticornis inbiocri001282718 h 1 high.jpgPheidole laticornis inbiocri001282718 p 1 high.jpgPheidole laticornis inbiocri001282718 l 1 high.jpg
Worker (major/soldier). Specimen code inbiocri001282718. Photographer J. Longino, uploaded by University of Utah. Owned by JTLC.


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

  • vafra. Pheidole vafra Santschi, 1923d: 51 (s.w.) BRAZIL.
    • Status as species: Casadei-Ferreira, Economo & Feitosa, 2020: 4.

Taxonomic Notes

The images of the types of P. vafra match the types of Wilson's P. laticornis.

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


From Wilson (2003): A small, brown member of the diligens group, whose major has a faintly bicolorous head; smooth anterior third of the head dorsal surface; abundant medium-length pilosity; relatively short antennal scapes, which are curved near their base; and equilaterally triangular postpetiolar spine in side view.

Close to Pheidole blumenauensis, Pheidole perryorum and Pheidole rochai, but major differing in its shorter scapes, eyes larger than in rochai (but not in blumenauensis) and other details of body form and sculpturing in both major and minor, as illustrated.

See also less similar Pheidole laevifrons, Pheidole lemur, Pheidole peregrina, Pheidole pubiventris and Pheidole seeldrayersi.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Lectotype major: HW 0.96, HL 1.04, SL 0.74, EL 0.20, PW 0.54. Paralectotype minor: HW 0.52, HL 0.64, SL 0.74, EL 0.14, PW 0.36.

COLOR Major: gaster medium brown, rest of body light brown except for anterior one-fourth of head capsule, which is a slightly contrasting brownish yellow.

Minor: concolorous medium brown.

Pheidole vafra

A member of the diligens group close to Pheidole coffeicola and Pheidole vafra and differing from that species and other diligens group members by the following combination of traits.

Major: scape broadened at the base, wider there than near the apex; head dark yellow, with brown spot on vertex; propodeal spines reduced to denticles.

Minor: propodeal spines reduced to denticles; occiput narrowed, with nuchal collar. Other traits as illustrated.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Holotype major: HW 1.02, HL 1.08, SL 0.76, EL 0.18, PW 0.58. Paratype minor: HW 0.48, HL 0.60, SL 0.76, EL 0.14, PW 0.34.

COLOR Major: body and head dark yellow, with fuzzy, circular brown spot on vertex, except for gaster, which is yellowish brown.

Minor: mesosoma, petiole, and appendages dark yellow; head, postpetiole, and gaster yellowish to plain light brown.

Pheidole vafra Wilson 2003.jpg

Pheidole idiota. Upper: lectotype, major. BRAZIL: Blumenau, Santa Catarina. (Outer antennal scape is from near Nariva Swamp, Trinidad.) Lower: minor. TRINIDAD: near Nariva Swamp (compared with paralectotype minor). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Pheidole laticornis Wilson 2003.jpg

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

Type Material

Pheidole idiota: BRAZIL: Blumenau, Santa Catarina. Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel - as reported in Wilson (2003)

Pheidole vafra: COSTA RICA: Palmar, Puntarenas, col. E. O. Wilson. Museum of Comparative Zoology


Pheidole idiota: L vafra, artful, craftful, allusion unknown. (Wilson 2003)

Pheidole vafra: L laticornis, broad-horned, referring to the basally widened scape.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Franco W., N. Ladino, J. H. C. Delabie, A. Dejean, J. Orivel, M. Fichaux, S. Groc, M. Leponce, and R. M. Feitosa. 2019. First checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of French Guiana. Zootaxa 4674(5): 509-543.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Kusnezov N. 1952. El género Pheidole en la Argentina (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Acta Zoologica Lilloana 12: 5-88.
  • Kusnezov N. 1956. Claves para la identificación de las hormigas de la fauna argentina. Idia 104-105: 1-56.
  • Longino J. T. 2019. Pheidole (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of Middle American wet forest. Zootaxa 4599: 1-126
  • Rosa da Silva R. 1999. Formigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) do oeste de Santa Catarina: historico das coletas e lista atualizada das especies do Estado de Santa Catarina. Biotemas 12(2): 75-100.
  • Santschi F. 1923. Pheidole et quelques autres fourmis néotropiques. Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 63: 45-69.
  • Santschi F. 1929. Nouvelles fourmis de la République Argentine et du Brésil. Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina. 107: 273-316.
  • Wild, A. L. "A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)." Zootaxa 1622 (2007): 1-55.
  • Wilson, E.O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Genus. Harvard University Press
  • da Silva de Oliveira A. B., and F. A. Schmidt. 2019. Ant assemblages of Brazil nut trees Bertholletia excelsa in forest and pasture habitats in the Southwestern Brazilian Amazon. Biodiversity and Conservation 28(2): 329-344.