The Ants of Africa
Genus Pheidole
Pheidole punctulata Mayr

crassinoda group - major with cordiform (heart-shaped) head - Arnold (1920a) group H

Pheidole punctulata Mayr

return to key {link to the Hymenoptera Name Server} Type location South Africa (Pheidole punctulata nov. spec., Mayr, 1866b: 899, major; Arnold, 1920a: 421, minor, queen & male) from Caffernland, Holm Museum - see below
all forms described (see Bolton, 1995) .

All of the following "subspecies" are readily separable and distinct and, so, in my opinion, form species in their own right:
Pheidole atrox (Pheidole punctulata Mayr r. Atrox n. stirps, Forel, 1913b: 328, major, minor & queen; with junior synonym inquilina, "Pheidole inquilina n. sp. (?)", Forel, 1914d: 240, minor, from Zimbabwe) from Za´re, Lumbumbashi [Elizabethville], by J. Bequaert
Pheidole subatrox (Pheidole punctulata Mayr v. subatrox n. var., Santschi, 1937g: 76, major & minor) from Za´re, Stanleyville, ex Reichensperger
Pheidole spinosa (Forel, 1891b: major & minor; illustrated by Emery, 1919a) from Madagascar - see

I agree with Dalla Torre (1893: 95) and Emery (1915j: 235) that Pheidole talpa (Pheidole talpa n. sp., Gerstńcker, 1871: 356, major; Santschi, 1930b: 67, minor & queen) from Tanzania, Mbaramu, Decken, is a junior synonym of punctulata and not of megacephala as thought by Santschi (1925h: 160) and listed in Bolton (1995: 331) - note specially the rhomboid pronotum with acute angles - see

{Pheidole punctulata}{Pheidole punctulata}Mayr's (1866b) description is at {original description}. Arnold's (1920a) fuller description is at {original description}, {original description} and {original description}. Forel's (1913b) description of atrox is at {original description}. Arnold's (1920a) translation of atrox is at {original description}. Forel's (1914d) description of inquilina is at {original description}. Gerstńcker's (1871) description of talpa is at {original description}. Emery's (1915j) revisionary notes are at {original description}. Santschi's (1930d) description of atrox is at {original description}. Santschi's (1937g) description of atrox is at {original description}. Santschi's (1937g) description of subatrox is at {original description}.

In a footnote to his description of Pheidole aurivilli, Mayr (1896: 238) wrote:
"I was able to restudy the original specimen of Pheidole punctulata, which I described in the year 1866, due to the friendly willingness of Mr. Professor Chr. Aurivillius, with the conclusion that Professor Forel was right as rain to recognize this form as a variety of Pheidole megacephala Fabr. (In contrast) I do not agree with Forel’s opinion, that Pheidole rotundata Forel might be just an extreme form of Pheidole punctulata, because the rounded-quadratic head, the hind frontal carinae strongly directed outwards, the strongly curved forehead and the strongly curved posterior part of the mesonotum down-sloping nearly vertical in front of the meso-metanotal suture are opposite to his opinion."
[Translation by Marcus Stuben].

{Pheidole punctulata type}Listed also by Wheeler (1922) from Guinea (Mamou, F. Silvestri), Ivory Coast (Assinie, C. Alluaud) and Congo (Ogowe, Mocquerys). He described it (as a ssp of megacephala) as a well-known and widely distributed Ethiopian form, apparently more abundant in Za´re than the "typical" form of megacephala. Nesting sites were in damp situations, such as under heaps of decomposed moist grass. Forel (1909b) listed a number of findings from the Congo Basin, South Africa and Zanzibar. He noted that in Benguela they were a pest everywhere. Santschi (1935) identified atrox majors and minors from Luluaborg, Za´re, which were with coccids - "ants living at the foot of herbs and trees on which were living Coccids, notably a species shaped like a Bishop's mitre"; some were collected feeding on a cow's heart (?"coeur du boeuf").

Pheidole punctulata majorThe photomontage of a syntype major worker is collated from

{Pheidole punctulata minor}The photomontage of a syntype minor worker is collated from

Oxford University Museum specimens

Pheidole punctulata
B Taylor det.

South Africa
Peter Hlavßc

29░07.7' S
29░25.3' E
Kwazulu, Natal, Dragensberge (Injiauti NP), S  E ; 1500 m
majors & minors

{Pheidole punctulata major}Major - the photomontage is of specimens from Kwazulu, Natal, South Africa, Dragensberge (Injiauti NP), S 29░07.7' E 29░25.3'; 1500 m; 6.ii.2004; Peter Hlavßc; several majors and minors. These closely match the original descriptions and, so, I have removed what I earlier had listed as crassinoda to a separate status.

The arrangement and size of the hypostomal teeth place this close to Pheidole megacephala.

With the Antweb images shown above (accessed October 2012) this is confirmed as the type form major, as is the minor below.

{Pheidole punctulata  minor}Minor

ę 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016 - Brian Taylor CBiol FRSB FRES
11, Grazingfield, Wilford, Nottingham, NG11 7FN, U.K.