The Ants of Africa
Genus Pheidole
Pheidole pulchella Santschi

fervens-group - Major distinguished particularly by the transverse metanotal welt; head with longitudinal striations or rugae, long frontal carinae with more or less distinct shallow scrobes; mandibles with two short apical teeth

Pheidole pulchella Santschi

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location Congo (Santschi, 1910c: 360, minor; Santschi, 1939b: 242, major) Brazzaville, by A. Weiss - see below
junior synonym niapuana (Pheidole niapuana, new species, Wheeler, 1922: 136, illustrated, major & minor; synonymy by Santschi, 1930a: 59) - see below
subspecies nominal plus achantella (Ph. pulchella Sant. v. achantella n. v.,  Santschi, 1939b: 242, major) from Congo - see
major & minor only described (see Bolton, 1995) .

Santschi's (1910c) description is at {original description}. Santschi's (1939b) description, with achantella is at {original description}. Reviewed by Fischer et al (2012: 33), with synonymy confirmed and new findings from Gabon.

Pheidole pulchella majorThe photomontage of the type major worker is collated from

Pheidole pulchella minorThe photomontage of the type minorr worker is collated from

{Pheidole pulchella}Description, as Pheidole niapuana by Wheeler (1922)

MAJOR - Length 5 to 5.5 mm. Head, excluding the mandibles, as broad as long (2.3 mm.), cordate, considerably broader behind than in front, and with the occipital border very deeply and arcuately excised. Behind the eyes the sides are convex but in front feebly concave. Eyes small, moderately convex, situated just in front of the anterior third of the head. In profile the head is most convex in the middle both above and below, but depressed in the occipital region. Frontal and occipital groove distinct but rather shallow anteriorly. Mandibles large and convex, with two blunt teeth at the apex. Clypeus flat, carinate, its anterior border emarginate in the middle, bluntly bidentate, sinuate on the sides. Frontal area large, subtriangular, without a median carinula; frontal carinae short, diverging, continued back as delicate rugae bordering an indistinct scrobe-like depression for the antennal scapes. Antennae slender, scapes terete, curved at the base, reaching to the middle of the sides of the head; all the funicular joints longer than broad, club somewhat shorter than the remainder of the funiculus. Gula with a pair of very large, blunt teeth at the anterior margin. Thorax short and robust, shorter than the head without the mandibles. Pronotum with very distinct and moderately acute humeral tubercles, mesonotum sloping to a deep metanotal constriction, with a sharp transverse welt or ridge; propodeum broader than long, concave and sloping in the middle; spines acute, somewhat shorter than the base, a little longer than their interval, directed upward and slightly outward and backward, with their tips distinctly curved backward. Petiole very small, narrow, fully twice as long as broad, with subparallel sides, the node short, with acute transverse superior border, distinctly notched in the middle. Postpetiole three times as broad as the petiole, subtriangular, broader than long and broader behind than in front, with prominent, bluntly angular sides, its ventral surface with a distinct tooth, its dorsal surface convex and rounded. Gaster broadly elliptical, smaller than the head. Legs rather slender, femora only moderately thickened in the middle.
Shining; mandibles sparsely punctate, striated at their bases. Head longitudinally rugose, the rugae sharp, widely separated and not very strong, the interrugal spaces with dense shallow punctures, most distinct on the space between two rugae representing a very feeble scrobe-like area. The rugae on the front diverge, passing to the summits of the occipital lobes. Sides of head with finer, denser rugae. Occipital lobes with large, scattered foveolae. Thorax, petiole and postpetiole covered with fine shallow punctures, more pronounced on the mesopleurae and extremely fine and dense on the petiole and postpetiole which are opaque. Pronotum transversely rugulose. Basal half of first gastric segment finely reticulate-punctate and less shining than the remainder of the gaster.
Colouration - hairs reddish yellow, glistening, coarse, uneven, erect, and rather sparse on the body; short, sparse, and appressed on the scapes and legs. Overall rich ferruginous red; clypeus and borders of mandibles black; legs and antennae paler and more yellowish red; gaster infuscated on the sides and behind the first segment.

MINOR - Length 3 to 3.5 mm. Head nearly circular, scarcely longer than broad, without posterior corners, occipital border strongly marginate. Mandibles large, their apical borders long and finely denticulate, with two larger terminal teeth. Clypeus convex, with rounded, entire anterior border. Eyes just in front of the middle of the head, moderately large and convex. Antennae slender, scapes extending about two-fifths their length beyond the occipital border. Thorax slender, the pronotum rather depressed above, bluntly tuberculate on the sides near the middle. Mesonotum long and sloping, with a broad transverse impression in front and a transverse swelling behind it. Metanotal constriction deep and broad. Propodeum as broad as long, with subequal base and declivity, not concave in the middle as in the major. Spines longer, as long as the base and more strongly curved backward. Petiole similar to that of the soldier, but with a lower, blunter node. Postpetiole scarcely twice as broad as the petiole, longer than broad, rounded above and on the sides. Gaster distinctly smaller than the head. Legs slender.
Overall shining; finely reticulate; mandibles finely and densely striate, lustrous; gaster more shining than the head and thorax; mesonotum and propodeum and ventral and lateral portions of the petiole and postpetiole subopaque, densely punctate. Pilosity much like that of the major, sparser on the body but more abundant on the legs. Colour much paler, of a more yellowish red, or reddish yellow, with paler legs and brown gaster, the latter in most specimens yellowish at the base.

Described from numerous specimens of both phases taken by Lang and Chapin at Niapu, Zare, "from nests in the rotten wood of fallen trees or in old roots." This species is evidently related to P. areniphila Forel of the Kalahari Desert but is certainly distinct, being larger and differing in many details of structure and sculpture.

{Pheidole pulchella niapuana} The photomontage of cotypes of niapuana is collated from The Smithsonian Institute images at

{Pheidole pulchella minor} The photomontage of a cotype minor of the type form is collated from The Smithsonian Institute images at

2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.