Pheidole indistincta Forel 1899

Suggested synonyms:
= Pheidole texticeps Wilson 2003
= Pheidole perdiligens Wilson 2003
= Pheidole piceonigra Emery 1922

Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta, Arthropoda, Animalia

worker face view

worker lateral view

major face view

major lateral view


Costa Rica (both slopes to 1000m).


Minor worker: head length 0.65mm, head width 0.55mm, scape length 0.77mm, Webers length 0.79mm (n=1). Head without vertex collar; promesonotal and metanotal grooves well impressed; propodeal spines moderately long; face smooth and shining; smooth shiny patches on pronotal dorsum, sides of pronotum, mesonotal dorsum, and basal face of propodeum, remainder of mesosoma foveolate; gastral dorsum smooth and shiny; erect setae short, sparse, and stiff, often with two pairs on pronotum, one pair on mesonotum; color brown, mesosoma lighter brown than head and gaster on some specimens.

Major worker: head length 0.99mm, head width 0.97mm, scape length 0.74mm (n=1); face between eyes and antennal insertions superficially rugose foveolate, fading to smooth and shiny posteriorly, extent of sculpture variable, from most of face sculptured to most of face smooth and shiny; hypostomal margin flat with pair of widely-spaced teeth, each tooth sharp and needle-like, located near small recessed teeth flanking mandibles (Figure); sides of head without erect setae; face and gastral dorsum with sparse, short, appressed setae/pubescence, and sparse, stiff, erect setae.


La Selva material has a strongly arched mesonotum, sculpture on major face beneath scapes, and erect setae on scapes of major. This form is Wilson's texticeps. Corcovado material is similar, but the mesonotum is not quite as arched, and the gaster of the major has a few more setae. This form is Wilson's perdiligens. Material from the Central Valley and Santa Rosa looks quite distinct. The mesonotum is less strongly arched, the major scapes and gaster have no erect setae, and the major head is shinier, with reduced sculpture. Overall, specimens have a more "melted" and polished black look. This form matches Wilson's concept of piceonigra Emery, a species with type locality in Mexico. Wilson first identified Corcovado material as indistincta, before deciding to name the separate species perdiligens.

minor worker lateral view
San Jose

minor worker lateral view

At present, we interpret these forms as one species with considerable geographic variation. Character variation is such that there is little evidence for sharp breaks between forms, and there is no known area of sympatry of forms. We use the name indistincta as the oldest name in the group.

Natural History

Pheidole indistincta is generalized in habitat preference, occurring in disturbed areas, mature forest, wet forest, and seasonal dry forest. Foragers occur on the ground and on extrafloral nectaries. Nests are in soil.

Selected Records

Santa Rosa National Park: Bosque humedo; at bait.

Guanacaste Conservation Area (Pitilla): Winkler sample.

Penas Blancas Valley: Winkler samples.

San Jose: city park (Parque Morazan); forest patch (Loma San Antonio) east of San Pedro.

Carara Biological Reserve (500m): Winkler sample.

Osa Peninsula: Winkler samples; at baits; at extrafloral nectaries.

Corcovado National Park (San Pedrillo): Recently cleared park boundary through primary forest. A few workers were on a Calathea leaf 50cm high. A dead tabanid was placed on the leaf, and majors appeared within 7min. A column led 1.5m from the base of the Calathea to a nest entrance in the ground. The nest was 10cm deep in loose clay soil. A single queen was collected. The nest seemed to occupy a baseball-sized volume.

Braulio Carrillo National Park: collections at 500m and 800m (Winkler samples).

La Selva: at baits and in Winkler samples.

Page authors:

John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.

Stefan Cover, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138 USA.

Date of this version: 2 September 2003.
Previous versions of this page: 4 December 1997
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