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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Taxonomic History

Taxonomic history

Emery, 1890c PDF: 48 (w.).
Senior synonym of Pheidole ridicula: Wilson, 2003A: 646.
See also: Emery, 1894l PDF: 54.
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Biology

Natural History:

Pheidole absurda excavates deep nests in soil. Colonies are granivorous and store seeds in special chambers. Creighton (1966) studied the habits of this species (as P. ridicula) in south Texas.

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Pheidole absurda HNS Forel

Pheidole absurda HNS Forel 1886b: xlvii. Syn.: Pheidole ridicula Wheeler HNS 1916i: 29, n. syn.

TYPES Mus. Hist. Nat. Geneve.

Etymology L absurda HNS , foolish, silly, referring to the very large, elongate head of the major.

Diagnosis A large member of the tristis HNS group distinguished by the disproportionately large, elongate head of the major. The major is also characterized by a nearly complete lack of sculpturing on the head and body other than carinulae found on the dorsal surface of the head from the level of the eyes forward; very low mesosomal convexity; propodeal spines small and erect. Minor: occiput broad, lacking nuchal collar; body almost completely smooth, lacking any sculpturing except for carinulae on the dorsal head surface at the level of the eye and anterior to it.

Measurements (mm) Lectotype major: HW 1.80, HL 2.38, SL 0.82, EL 0.24, PW 0.84. Paralectotype minor: HW 0.64, HL 0.68, SL 0.64, EL 0.14, PW 0.42.

Color Major: head reddish yellow, mandibles medium reddish brown, rest of body and appendages yellowish brown. Minor: body light brown, appendages brownish yellow.

Range The Brownsville area of extreme southern Texas south to Costa Rica. I have seen material from the Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala. Kempf (1972b) reports absurda HNS from the "Guianas," but this needs verification.

Biology Near Campeche I found a nest in moist clay of a thorn forest. Soil nests are also reported by Longino (1997) in Costa Rica and by Creighton (1966b) in Texas. According to Creighton, the nest entrance is an inconspicuous hole 2-5 mm in diameter, leading to a diffuse system of galleries and chambers that descend as much as a meter into the ground. A mature colony contains at least 75 majors and 300 minors. The colonies harvest seeds (Amaranthus palmeri at Creightoni study site) and store them in granary chambers. The minors strip the ovary shards away from the seeds, and the majors crack them open. The majors also serve as very effective guards, using their mandibles like wire clippers to chop off appendages of arthropod intruders. In observation nests they proved more than a match for other Pheidole HNS and the native fire ant Solenopsis geminata HNS .

Figure Upper: major. The body is drawn from a specimen from 10 km east of Campeche, Mexico (E. O. Wilson), compared with the lectotype major in Mus. Nat. Hist. Geneve; the head is drawn from the lectotype major. Lower: paralectotype, minor. GUATEMALA: Retalhuleu. Scale bars = 1 mm.

  • Wilson, E. O. (2003): Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press: 646-646, URL:http://atbi.biosci.ohio-state.edu/HymOnline/reference-full.html?id=20017
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Distribution

South Texas to Costa Rica. Costa Rica: known from one site on Pacific slope near Monteverde.

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Taxonomic Treatment

Wilson, E. O.:
 Pheidole absurda Forel 1886b: xlvii. Syn.: Pheidole ridicula Wheeler 1916i: 29, n. syn.
  Etymology L absurda , foolish, silly, referring to the very large, elongate head of the major.
  Diagnosis A large member of the tristis group distinguished by the disproportionately large, elongate head of the major. The major is also characterized by a nearly complete lack of sculpturing on the head and body other than carinulae found on the dorsal surface of the head from the level of the eyes forward; very low mesosomal convexity; propodeal spines small and erect. Minor: occiput broad, lacking nuchal collar; body almost completely smooth, lacking any sculpturing except for carinulae on the dorsal head surface at the level of the eye and anterior to it.
 Measurements (mm) Lectotype major: HW 1.80, HL 2.38, SL 0.82, EL 0.24, PW 0.84. Paralectotype minor: HW 0.64, HL 0.68, SL 0.64, EL 0.14, PW 0.42.
 Color Major: head reddish yellow, mandibles medium reddish brown, rest of body and appendages yellowish brown. Minor: body light brown, appendages brownish yellow.
  Range The Brownsville area of extreme southern Texas south to Costa Rica. I have seen material from the Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala. Kempf (1972b) reports absurda from the "Guianas," but this needs verification.
  Biology Near Campeche I found a nest in moist clay of a thorn forest. Soil nests are also reported by Longino (1997) in Costa Rica and by Creighton (1966b) in Texas. According to Creighton, the nest entrance is an inconspicuous hole 2-5 mm in diameter, leading to a diffuse system of galleries and chambers that descend as much as a meter into the ground. A mature colony contains at least 75 majors and 300 minors. The colonies harvest seeds (Amaranthus palmeri at Creightoni study site) and store them in granary chambers. The minors strip the ovary shards away from the seeds, and the majors crack them open. The majors also serve as very effective guards, using their mandibles like wire clippers to chop off appendages of arthropod intruders. In observation nests they proved more than a match for other Pheidole and the native fire ant Solenopsis geminata .
 Figure Upper: major. The body is drawn from a specimen from 10 km east of Campeche, Mexico (E. O. Wilson), compared with the lectotype major in Mus. Nat. Hist. Geneve; the head is drawn from the lectotype major. Lower: paralectotype, minor. GUATEMALA: Retalhuleu. Scale bars = 1 mm.
 

Forel, A., 1908:
 [[ soldier ]] [[ worker ]]. San Jose de Costa Rica, 1160 metres, dans la terre (Biolley).
 
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[[ soldier ]] [[ worker ]]. San Jose de Costa Rica, 1160 metres, dans la terre (Biolley).

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Forel, A.

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