The Ants of Africa
Genus Pheidole
Pheidole picata Forel

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.

megacephala-subgroup - TL > 3.3 mm

Pheidole picata Forel

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Madagascar (Pheidole megacephala var. picata nov. var., Forel, 1891b: 178, major & minor; raised to species Emery, 1915j) - see below
bernhardae (Emery, 1915j: 245, major & minor) from Madagascar
gietleni (Forel, 1905b: 164, major & minor) from Madagascar
(see Bolton, 1995), major & minor described .

WORKER (translation of the Forel, 1891b) note -
"picata, new variety (of megacephala), small dark brown variety with the sides of the head very convex and the propodeal spines rather short coming from Antananarivo this variety when examined alongside the type megacephala may be a separate species".

Bernard (1952) noted that this species was spread across Madagascar and the Seychelles (and other Indian Ocean Islands, Wheeler, 1922), but was rare from African collections, citing it from Congo (as Ph. punctulata var picata by Santschi, 1910c: 370, at Brazzaville, by Weiss, in Wheeler, 1922; simply listed by name). He, however, recorded its finding in Ivory Coast, Banco by Delamare-Debouteville. Importantly, from Guinea it was abundant in the Mt. Nimba survey area. At higher altitudes it was found on the crests (Nion, 1300 m; Mount Tô, 1600 m), in the forest (T.184; B3-18, 1000 m; north-east flank leaf litter by Villiers) and, less commonly lower (N'Zo, 6 workers, 3 queens, one male) and Savanna (Ziéla, Kéoulenta).

Bernard described it as very variable, for instance the heads of majors could be - round and brown, straight and black, more or less incurved dorsally. Some majors resembled the variety gietleni. However, the minors, and probably the queens, appeared uniform so it was superfluous to create new names on the basis of such polymorphic majors. [In this, Bernard, seems to contradict his own summary, see the Genus page, where he declared the uniformity of minors made majors the best morph for defining species]. He cautioned that the odd distribution called for more investigation.

With the availability of the images of the type major, below, I strongly suspect the Bernard records, etc., were of Pheidole aurivillii.

{Pheidole picata major}The photomontage of the type major is collated from where it is listed under Pheidole megacephala.

The head shape and overall body form separate this from P. megacephala.

{Pheidole picata minor}The photomontage of the type minor is collated from where it is listed under Pheidole megacephala. The head shape and the narrow elliptical eyes are very different to P. megacephala

{Pheidole picata queen}The photomontage of the type queen is collated from where it is listed under Pheidole megacephala
Compared with the probable queen of P. megacephala this has much larger ocelli and differs slightly in the width of the postpetiole; P. megacephala also has a flat profile to the alitrunk.

© 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
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