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Pheidole soritis WheelerHNS 1908h: 439. Syn.: Pheidole sitarches WheelerHNS 1908h: 440, n. syn. (see history of earlier synonymy and revival in Bolton 1995b: 330); Pheidole sitarches var. transvarians WheelerHNS 1908h: 442, synonymy by Creighton 1950a: 189; Pheidole sitarches subsp. rufescens WheelerHNS 1908h: 443, n. syn. (name takes precedence over campestris WheelerHNS, see below and Bolton 1995b: 318, 329).; Pheidole sitarches subsp. campestrisHNS Creighton 1950a: 189, n. syn. (first available name of Pheidole sitarches subsp. rufescens var. campestris WheelerHNS 1908h: 443, a quadrinomial not available for use; see further nomenclatural details in Bolton 1995b: 318, 329). Raised to species level in this monograph: cavigenisHNS.
Types Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard; Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist.
diagnosis A member of the " piliferaHNS complex" of the larger piliferaHNS group, comprising calensHNS, californicaHNS, carrolliHNS, cavigenisHNS, clementensisHNS, creightoniHNS, hopliticaHNS, littoralisHNS, miculaHNS, piliferaHNS, polymorphaHNS, rugulosaHNS, senexHNS, soritisHNS, tepicanaHNS, and torosaHNS, which complex is distinguished by the following traits. Major: dorsal head surface extensively sculptured; occipital lobe transversely rugulose (or, in carrolliHNS smooth, in littoralisHNS foveate, and in miculaHNS and soritisHNS carinulate); postpetiole from above diamond-shaped, trapezoidal, or spinose. Minor: eye medium-sized to large.
Major: extensive transverse carinulae of occiput curve laterally and forward, with many reaching the anterior border of the head capsule; almost entire dorsal surface of head, including clypeus, carinulate; rugulae lacking on head; humerus low and smoothly convex; postpetiole seen from above laterally angulate; small denticle present on anterior ventral surface of postpetiole in side view.
Minor: dorsal profile of promesonotum lined solely with evenly spaced pairs of clavate hairs; similar hairs occur on the waist; eye very large.
The tangled infraspecific nomenclature of this species has been built mostly on variation in the sculpturing of the minor's head. From central Texas north and west, the posterior dorsal surface is foveolate and opaque ( subsp. rufescensHNS = subsp. campestrisHNS). To the south, into Mexico, it is smooth and shiny, as illustrated here ( subsp. sitarchesHNS). Westward to Arizona and Utah it is carinulate (typical soritisHNS). Whether this variation is truly geographic within a single species or reflects the existence of sibling species around sitarchesHNS sensu str., is a question that awaits closer field and museum research.
Color Major: head and appendages light reddish brown, body a slightly contrasting medium reddish brown.
Minor: body plain light brown, appendages brownish yellow.
Range Mississippi west to Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and northern Mexico.
Biology In eastern Colorado, Gregg (1963) found P. soritisHNS under rocks in the clay soil of cottonwood-willow woodland and shortgrass prairie, from 1000 to 1300 m. I encountered it near Datil, New Mexico, in open juniper woodland (Wilson 1957c). A nuptial flight was observed in progress following rainfall on 9 August in an abandoned homesite clearing. The swarms of flying ants, which held resolutely to the clearings, consisted mostly of males. The aggregations were roughly circular in shape and hovered from about half a meter to nearly 2 meters above the surface, depending on wind conditions. Winged queens flew into the swarms and were quickly seized by a male, whereupon the pair spiraled to the ground together. After insemination, the queens shed their wings and ran off over the ground, evidently in search of a nest site.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 1 times found in desert, 2 times found in shrub steppe, 5 times found in Pine-oak forest, 4 times found in Creosote bush, 1 times found in sagebrush desert, 4 times found in short grass prairie, 4 times found in Mesquite grassland, 4 times found in Mesquite-acacia desert, 1 times found in Oak grove, 1 times found in Cottonwood-willow-mesquite woodland, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 3 times under stone, 11 times under rock, 1 times nest under cow dung, 1 times under wood, 1 times nest in soil, 1 times garden, 1 times Base of grass tuft.
Collected most commonly using these methods: 4 times search, 1 times vial 100, 1 times at bait, 1 times direct collection.
Elevations: collected from 30 - 2438 meters, 1329 meters average