Pheidole punctatissima

Pheidole punctatissima
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. punctatissima
Binomial name
Pheidole punctatissima
Mayr, 1870

Pheidole punctatissima casent0601256 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole punctatissima casent0601256 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


J. T. Longino (1997) on punctatissima in Costa Rica: "This species thrives in disturbed areas, and it is often a pest ant. Nests are often in ephemeral cavities; soft rotten sticks, beneath bark flaps, in debris in forks of trees, etc." In Mexico winged reproductives have been found in nests during April and July. (Wilson 2003)

At a Glance • Limited invasive  


In terms of metric characters and sculpture, it is very like Pheidole anastasii. The minor workers are relatively large and the scapes relatively long. The coloration is distinctive. The minor workers are always dark red brown to nearly black. The major workers have a color similar to that of associated minor workers over most of the body, but a posterior portion of the head is a sharply contrasting yellow. The coloration is uniform over much of the range, but populations in the mountains of Chiapas State in southern Mexico have the yellow spot greatly reduced. The shagreening on the gaster of minor workers is typically strong and covers the entire first gastral tergite.

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


Tropical southern Mexico to Colombia.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 40.743991° to -4.1°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico (type locality), Nicaragua, Panama.
Palaearctic Region: Denmark, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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.


Pheidole punctatissima is a slightly more arboreal version of P. bilimeki. It favors the same kind of open, disturbed habitats and has a similar geographic range, from Colombia to Tamaulipas, Mexico. In contrast to P.bilimeki, it is rarely if ever found nesting beneath stones. It is nearly always in dead wood on the ground or dead branches in the low arboreal zone. Like P. bilimeki, it can be a pest ant in houses. The fact that P. punctatissima has longer scapes and more arboreal habits than P. bilimeki reinforces a general pattern in ants, in which arboreal species tend to have longer scapes than ground-dwelling congeners. (Longino and Cox 2009)

Vanoye-Eligio et al. (2020) provide the following notes based on collections using Multilure-type traps from northeastern Mexico: Six minors and 1 major of Pheidole punctatissima were identified from traps. This species is found often in disturbed areas, nesting in rotten branches, and under the bark of trees (Longino & Cox 2009).




Images from AntWeb

Paralectotype Pheidole punctatissimaWorker. Specimen code casent0601257. Photographer Z. Lieberman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMV.


Images from AntWeb

Lectotype Pheidole punctatissimaWorker (major/soldier). Specimen code casent0601256. Photographer John T. Longino, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by NHMV.


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

  • punctatissima. Pheidole punctatissima Mayr, 1870a: 400 (s.w.) MEXICO. Forel, 1908b: 52 (q.). Senior synonym of napaea: Brown, 1981: 525. See also: Wilson, 2003: 618; Longino & Cox, 2009: 37.
  • napaea. Pheidole punctatissima subsp. napaea Wheeler, W.M. 1934g: 165 (s.w.) MEXICO. Junior synonym of punctatissima: Brown, 1981: 525.

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 One of the most instantly recognizable of all Pheidole species: the major has a yellowish white posterior two-thirds of the head capsule (fading to pale yellow in older specimens) that contrasts sharply with the medium to dark brown remainder of the body; the major also is distinguished within the punctatissima group by the large area of rugoreticulation mesad to the eyes (see also ‘’Pheidole inca’’) and the very prominent comulate pronotal humerus and entire surface of the body foveolate and opaque.

Minor: no carinulae on entire body, but all of the body parts except the second and succeeding segments of the gaster are foveolate and opaque.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Major (Pueblo Nuevo, Mexico): HW 0.92, HL 0.92, SL 0.54, EL 0.14, PW 0.44. Minor (Pueblo Nuevo, Mexico): HW 0.44, HL 0.54, SL 0.50, EL 0.10, PW 0.24.

COLOR Major: bicolorous, with posterior two-thirds of head surface, together with the lateral wings of the clypeus, yellowish white (fading to pale yellow in old specimens) and all the remainder of the body a sharply contrasting medium to dark brown; the first gastral tergite has bluish reflections; and the appendages exclusive of the mandibles are yellow.

Minor: body concolorous medium brown, appendages except for mandibles brownish yellow.


Figure. Upper: major. Lower: minor. MEXICO: Pueblo Nuevo, near Tetzonapa, Veracruz (E. O. Wilson). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Lectotype Specimen Labels

Type Material

Mexico; Edward Norton. Museum of Comparative Zoology - as reported in Wilson (2003)


L punctatissima, very dotted with punctures, probably referring to the nearly complete foveolate sculpturing of the body. (Wilson 2003)


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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