Pheidole

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pheidole
Pheidole.dentata.parasitized.-.wheeler.svg
Pheidole dentata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Genus: Pheidole
Westwood, 1839
Species

many, see text

Diversity[1]
c. 1,000 species

Pheidole is a genus of ant that belongs to the ant subfamily Myrmicinae.

Pheidole mendicula

The Genus[edit]

The genus Pheidole is widespread and ecologically dominant. It probably includes more than a thousand species .[1]

Colony structure[edit]

Most species of Pheidole are dimorphic, which means that colonies contain two castes of workers: the "minor" workers, and the "major" workers, or "soldiers". The latter generally have enormous heads and mandibles in comparison to their usually fairly modest body size.

In addition, as in other ant species, a colony may contains one or several queens and also, in mature colonies, alates, virgin winged females and males.

Major workers[edit]

The distinctive major workers have earned the genus Pheidole the nickname of "big headed ants." The major workers of a Pheidole colony, while they may look fierce, are often quite shy and are often the first to flee on any hint of danger. Interestingly, many Pheidole species are the prey of parasitoid Phorid flies that lay their eggs on the major workers; the fly larvae grow mainly in the head capsules of the victims, eventually decapitating them, and probably would starve in the bodies of minor workers.

In most cases, the major workers are employed within the nest to break up large food items, or outside to carry large items, like seeds; many Pheidole species are ecologically important seed consumers ("harvesters").

Minor and major workers of P. purpurea
The top view of a "major" worker of P. purpurea, with a scale to distinguish size
Minor worker 
Minor worker, top 
Major worker 
Major worker, top 

Species list[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b E. O. Wilson (2003). Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Ant Genus. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00293-8.