The Ants of Africa
Genus Pheidole
Pheidole pallidula (Nylander)

Pheidole pallidula (Nylander) - revised

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return to listEgypt list {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Sicily (Myrmica pallidula, Nylander, 1849: 42, worker; Oecophthora pallidula, Mayr, 1855: 457, major, queen & male) from Messina, collector Cel. Zeller; no images on Antweb (April 2017) - Radchenko (2007: 33) reported the specimens as intact in the Finnish Museum of Natural History and "fully correspond(ing) to the modern treatment of Pheidole pallidula".
junior synonyms
inquilina (Xenophaenogaster inquilina, Baroni Urbani, 1964b: 50, illustrated, worker; surmised synonymy by Bolton, 1987: 291) from Sicily - no images on Antweb (November 2014)
megacephala (Myrmica megacephala, Losana, 1834: 328, major & minor workers) from Italy, Piedmont, collected by M Losana - no images on Antweb (November 2014)
subdentata (Oecophthora subdentata, Mayr, 1853a: 145, major & minor workers; synonymy by Mayr, 1855: 455) from Austria, numerous collections - see below
subspecies
obscura (Pheidole pallidula v. n. emeryi, Krausse, 1912a: 169, major & minor workers; replacement name by Santschi, 1936c: 200) from Sardinia, Sedda de Pranu, Monti del Gennargentu, vii.1912 - no images on Antweb (November 2014)

Note: Former junior synonym recticeps removed here to Pheidole cicatricosa.


Pheidole pallidulaNylander's (1849) description is at {original description}. Losana (1833) described specimens of "M. [Myrmica] megacephala" from "our garden, referring to "the megacephala of Latreille"; this is at {original description}. Mayr's (1853a) description of subdentata is at {original description}. Mayr's (1855) descriptions are at {original description} and {original description}. Roger (1862c: 294) gave a note to clarify the conflicting use of the name Myrmica megacephala by Losana, this is at {original description}. Emery (1869b: 19) gave a fuller description, this is at {original description}. Bondroit (1918: 165) gave a description of the type form, this is at {original description}. Forel's (1909e) description of recticeps, is at {original description}. Krausse's (1912a) naming of obscura (as emeryi), is at {original description}. Emery (1915j) gave notes and illustrations - see {original description} Emery (1919a) gave further notes and illustrations - see {original description} this corrected a juxtaposition of images in his review paper (Emery, 1915j). Santschi (1936c) gave a short note, this is at {original description}. Finzi (1936) gave a description of recticeps, is at {original description}. Baroni Urbani's (1964b) description of inquilina, is at {original description}. Other consideration's by Baroni Urbani are 1964a, 1964b, 1968b (1) and 1968b (2).


{Pheidole pallidula recticeps}Nylander (1842) gave the minor as pale rust; sparse long hairs, long antennae, TL 2 mm, Messina, Sicily. In brief, the description of O. subdentata major by Mayr, 1853a, 1855; Emery, 1869; was TL 4.23 mm; mandibles smooth, with fine points; reddish yellow, hind leg brownish; Austria.

From that, Losana's (1833) Myrmica megacephala almost certainly was Pheidole pallidula He described the ant as nesting in our garden, in Piemonte (Piedmont), in northwest Italy, and described it as a lion-coloured ant. The Losana specimens, both majors and minors had black, or dark, gasters.

Forel's (1909e: 391) brief description of recticeps as a variety of subspecies tristis is odd. The pale colour points to the type form, albeit possibly with a longer more rectangular head.


With a range of fresh specimens we have separated pallidula, with the type from mainly western Mediterranean areas, from two eastern species, Pheidole arenarum and Pheidole orientalis. This moves on from Emery (1915j: 229 ff), who was firm in stating that the type form was not found in Asia. However, following the fashion of the time (stemming from Forel, 1874), Emery clustered the eastern forms under the subspecies arenarum, as noted above this was raised to species by Collingwood (1961a, b) but later was synonymized with pallidula by Atanassov & Dlussky (1992: 123).

We feel justified also in separating off Pheidole cicatricosa (sic. tristis) as a distinct desert or semi-desert species. As noted above, we feel arenarum occurs from Turkey eastwards and, therefore, doubt that Bernard's (1945) recognition of it from the Sahara was correct (see below).


We are left with the status of recticeps and obscura (emeryi).

{short description of image} Andr (1886: 383), gave the earliest illustration and in his key noted -
MAJOR - funiculus segments not longer than wide; posterior part of head smooth; postpetiole widened laterally into conical tubercles. Propodeum with small teeth that are not longer than their basal width. Smooth and shiny, with the anterior of the head longitudinally striate, propodeum rugose. Varying from pale yellow, with the head reddish and the gaster blackish, to, red brown with the antennae and legs lighter, the occiput and gaster darker; TL 3.7-4.5 mm.
MINOR - funiculus segments 2-5 transverse, not longer than wide; propodeum with small dentiform tubercles which are wide but extremely short;overall smooth and shiny, genae superficially striate, propdeum punctate-rugose. Variation from pale yellow with the head a little duller and the gaster more or less blackish; to red brown with the antennae and legs lighter and the head and gaster again blackish brown. TL 1.7-2.7 mm.
Distribution - Meridional Europe, western Asia, north of Africa.

That, however, from his distribution list, was a blanket description, especially the note on colour. The illustration obviously differs from the type fawn or "lion-coloured". It appears to be the dark brown colour given for variety emeryi from Sardinia, by Krausse (1912a).


Santschi (1936c) commented that inermis had a paler colour and smaller eyes than the type, the major had more rounded sides to the postpetiole than the type pallidula. As we show inermis is a junior synonym of Pheidole sinaitica. On obscura, he noted the general colour was darker, especially the head and gaster, but the genae and appendages remained light; the postpetiole was the same width as in the type. Note that the "type" major of obscura shown on CASENT0913388 is not the true type, being collected on mainland France from Mount Fenouillet, Var Region, and not Sardinia (Krausse, 1912a).

Finzi's (1936) description of recticeps noted that the major had a longer head and dark patches on the gaster (examples on worker pages).

After a study of specimens from Morocco, Cagniant (1964) remarked that the sub-species of the authors were not greatly significant as the workers and soldiers are very variable in the same nest but he provided no supporting information. [Cagniant, H. 1964. tude de quelques fourmis marocaines. Statistique provisoire des Formicidae du Maroc. Bull. Soc. Hist. Nat. Afr. Nord, 53, 83-118]. Earlier, however, Bernard (e.g. Bernard, 1948) had maintained the recognition of subspecies and varieties, listing recticeps from the Saharan oases, such as Fezzan. Previously, after studying the Maora Forest in Morocco, he had separated the ecological requirements of the various forms as - the type pallidula as widespread, often found in houses; the variety tristis as seemingly limited to clay soils and valleys; and, the subspecies arenarum Ruszky as mainly from the dry plateaux and the Sahara (Bernard, 1945).

Bernard (1967: 153, with illustrations) described the minors as TL 1.6-2.6 mm, varying from pale yellow-gold (from very sunny, warm sites) to to brown almost black (from shady sites, around Lyons, etc.), shiny and almost smooth. The majors, TL 3.3-4.9 mm, were similarly coloured to the minors; with the tints varying somewhat with the local microclimate, even in the same site.


{Pheidole pallidula subdentata major}The photomontage of the type major of subdentata is collated from http://www.antweb.org/specimen.do?name=casent0916045.


With the availability of fresh specimens from Egypt, Iran and Spain, the link pages give fresh photographs and descriptions of
Major workers; Minor workers

The images on the majors page show the pale, apparently type form major, with a relatively short ovoid head, from Croatia. That matches Mayr's (1853a) description of Oecophthora subdentata (see above and on the majors page). With the specimens we have from Spain and Egypt, however, the pale major has a longer, more rectangular head. From Sant Celoni, Barcelona, Xavier Espadaler sent us a light major and dark majors that appear to match the Andr illustration, i.e. probably the obscura form. Apart from the colour the only obvious difference from the pale major is the length of the head. The scape length and scape index are similar; also, the arrangement of hypostomal teeth is the same.

Thus, our present conclusion, has to be that Bernard (1967) and, at least in part, Cagniant (1964) were right in their assertions of variability.


{Pheidole pallidula sexuals}Bernard (1967) gave good illustrations of the sexuals.


Oxford University Museum specimens

Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.

Egypt
M Sharaf


6.v.2003
Zaranik
3039' N
3426' E
North Sinai, Abumadi
majors & minors
3
{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.


Egypt
M Sharaf


7.viii.2007
Marsa Matrouh
3131' N
2714' E
Kaseh Tourist Village
majors & minors
1
{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.
Egypt
M Sharaf


7.iii.2003
Nagh Ghalalab
3131' N
2714' E
Aswan
minor
1
{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.

Spain
X Espadaler

27.x.2008
Barcelona
41.3833333 N
2.1833333 W
Sant Celoni
majors & minors
7
{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.
Iran
R Nafisi
24
16.x.2012
3638'N
5704'E
Joghatay-Sabzevar-Khorasan
4482 ft
Garden field
Minor worker - dark colour
1
{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.
Iran
R Nafisi
27
24.iii.2013
3557'N
5748'E
Sheshtamab-Sabzeva-Khorasan
4460 ft
Desert
1
{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.
Iran
S Moradloo
03
2.vii.2012
36.61N
48.03E
Gogje Ghiaye Markasi
1852 m 27C
Village
Major worker
3
{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.
Iran
S Moradloo
11
1.v.2013
36.61N 
48.28E
Gholi Kandi
1911 m 27C
Forest, on trees
Minor worker
1
{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.
Iran
M Seiri
22



{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.
Iran
G Abolfathi
39
01.vi.2014
33.904181N
48.727929E
1581 m
Gazza Square, Borujerd
City
minor workers

2
{album}
Pheidole pallidula
B Taylor det.
Iran
F Heidary
14b
05.ii.2013
27.18N
53.70E
411 m
Lamerd
trapped on cake
desert
major & minor workers
4
{album}
Contents
2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.

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