The Ants of Africa
Genus Pheidole
Pheidole minima Mayr

megacephala-group - Major - head width and length equal or subequal; mandibles relatively slender, with at most reduced teeth or denticles; postpetiole trapezoidal but without elongated lateral prominences. Minors without or variable development of a nuchal collar.

minima subgroup - TL < 3.3 mm

Pheidole minima Mayr

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Cameroun (Pheidole minima nov. spec., Mayr, 1901a: 275, major & minor) collected at Mungo-Fluss, collector R. Buchholz - no images available on Antweb (September 2014)
catella (Pheidole minima Mayr var. catella n. var., Santschi, 1914d: 339, major & minor) from Nigeria (Olokemeji, collector F. Silvestri - see below
faurei (Pheidole minima Mayr stirps Faurei n. st.., Santschi, 1920b: 15, minor & queen) from Gabon, Samkita , F Faure - see below
malelana (Pheidole minima Mayr subspecies malelana new subspecies, Wheeler, 1922: 133, major & minor, see below) from Zaïre (see Bolton, 1995) - no images available on Antweb (September 2014)
major, minor and queen described .

Mayr's (1901a) description is at {original description}. Santschi's (1914d) description of catella is at {original description}. Santschi's (1920b) description of faurei is at {original description}.

TL major < 4.0 mm, minor ca. 2.0 mm (after Bernard, 1952)

Wheeler (1922) had catella also from Ghana (Aburi, F. Silvestri). He gave notes on malelana, a very small species, major TL 2.3 mm and worker TL 1.5 mm; major head as megacephala in shape but mandibles no longer than broad, distinctly depressed on the occipitum, see below. Both the major and workers generally seem to be close to the form listed by me as Pheidole nigeriensis (species B) except in generally lighter colour. It was described from a single major and three workers nesting in a stem of Hyphaene at Malela. The type form colouration was noted as different, but he did not say in what way; Santschi had noted that catella was of a colour similar to that now found in malelana but the description was too brief for Wheeler to be sure of any comparison.

From Guinea, Bernard (1952) the finding of a major and a worker at Nion crest, Station B6.26, 1300 m; which were similar to the type form from Nigeria.

The Wheeler (1922) description of Pheidole minima Mayr subspecies malelana was -

MAJOR - Length 2.3 mm. Head shaped much as in P. megacephala, without the mandibles a little longer than broad, distinctly but not broadly depressed in the occipital region. Eyes small, flat, at the anterior third of the head. Clypeus flat, ecarinate. Frontal area small, impressed; frontal carinae diverging, reaching to the posterior third of the head, bounding distinct scrobes for the antennal scapes, which are half as long as the head. Funicular joints 2 to 8 distinctly broader than long, club longer than the remainder of the funiculus. Mandibles large and convex, coarsely bidentate at the tip. Thorax robust, pronotum very convex, with small but distinct humeral tubercles. Mesonotum falling almost vertically to the pronounced metanotal constriction, with a slight transverse convexity in the middle. Propodeum broader than long, concave and sloping in the middle, its spines rather erect, shorter than the interval between their bases, with pointed tips. Petiole with rather high, anteroposteriorly compressed, distinctly emarginate node. Postpetiole only one and one-half times as broad as the petiole, broader than long, with the sides angularly produced. Gaster much smaller than the head, elliptical, convex, with subtruncate anterior border. Legs stout, femora thickened in the middle.
Shining; mandibles sparsely punctate; clypeus rather smooth in the middle, indistinctly rugulose on the sides; anterior two-thirds of head with sharp, but not coarse, longitudinal rugae; occipital lobes with small, sparse, piligerous punctures. Pronotum and gaster very smooth and shining; pedicel smooth but less polished; mesonotum and propodeum opaque, densely punctate. Hairs yellow, sparse, suberect on the body, short and appressed on the legs and antennal scapes. Colour castaneous; pronotum, first gastric segment, borders of clypeus, and mandibles blackish; remainder of mandibles and clypeus, cheeks and anterior portion of front, petiole and postpetiole yellowish red; legs brownish yellow; terminal gastric segments pale brown; posterior borders of all the gastric segments broadly yellowish.

WORKER - Length 1.5 mm. Head subrectangular, as broad as long and as broad in front as behind, with very feebly convex sides and nearly straight posterior border. Eyes just in front of the middle. Mandibles with the entire apical border finely denticulate. Clypeus convex, with rounded, entire anterior border. Antennal scapes reaching beyond the posterior corners of the head to a distance equal to twice their diameter. Thorax shaped much as in the soldier, but the pronotum narrower and longer. Propodeal spines reduced to minute slender teeth scarcely longer than broad at their bases. Superior border of petiolar node straight and entire; postpetiole small, a little broader than the petiole, subglobular. Pilosity, sculpture, and colour as in the soldier, but the head smooth and shining, with only the cheeks delicately longitudinally rugulose.

Described from a single soldier and three workers taken by Lang from a colony nesting in a stem of Hyphaene at Malela, Zaïre. This form agrees with the typical minima, in size and in most of its characters but the colour is very different, the postpetiole is much narrower in proportion to the petiole in both soldier and worker; and the antennal scapes of the latter are decidedly longer.

Pheidole minima catellaThe photomontage of the catella type major worker is collated from

Pheidole minima catellaThe photomontage of the catella type minor worker is collated from

Pheidole minima faureiThe photomontage of the faurei type major worker is collated from

Pheidole minima faureiThe photomontage of the faurei type minor worker is collated from

Oxford University Museum specimens

Pheidole minima
B Taylor det.

G Debout & A Dalecky
Cameroon 31

2°52.02' N
9°59.13' E
in pouch-like stipules of a Rubiaceae
Pheidole minima
B Taylor det.
E Poirier
PF 10
Nimba County
07°33’38" N
08°32’33" E
Pitfall trap
Degraded secondary forest
518 m asl
Pheidole minima
B Taylor det.

David King
King 43

25.viii.2007 Bamako
12°37.481' N
8°00.27' W
323 m asl; foraging on palm leaves in later afternoon


{Pheidole minima major}The photomontage is of specimens collected in Cameroun - south-western tropical coastal forest area between Edéa and Campo (McKey Wolbachia project) - Cameroon 31 from location KIEN (Kienké - swamp/river alongside plantations at 2°52.02' N 9°59.13'; marshy land), 05 April 2001, in pouch-like stipules of a Rubiaceae.

These have the following characteristics -
Major - head in full-face view with only moderately convex borders; in profile relatively slender with distinct acute occipital junction. Mesostomal teeth well developed and anterior border of ventral head capsule merged in darker strip with mesosomal border. Scapes almost reaching occipital border; long but fine frontal carinae, with longitudinal rugae laterally extending to occiput, main occipital area smooth or almost so but distinct median line for full length of face. Mandibles smooth, small basal tooth, edentulate border to strong pair of apical teeth; clypeus ecarinate. Erect hairs on head long, yellow-brown and moderately abundant. Pronotum domed, with fine transverse rugae; fairly deep metanotal groove, propodeum dorsum convex, declivity near flat, spiracle quite large, propodeal teeth sharp and moderately long for group. 

{Pheidole minima minor} Minor - head near-circular in full face view except for almost straight anterior border (ignoring mandibles), unsculptured, very shiny, with nuchal collar; eyes about 1/4 length of head, set just forward of midline of face.

{Pheidole minima minor} Minor worker from Liberia, Yekepa; collector E Poiriet (Yekepa PF 10)

{Pheidole minima minor} Minor worker from Mali, Bamako; collector David King (King 43)

© 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.