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Mainland Neotropics from southern Mexico to Amazonian Brazil and Bolivia. Costa Rica: both slopes, to 900m elevation.
The type locality of cephalica s.s. is Brazil. There are three subspecies, of which two have type localities in Costa Rica: cephalica incrustata Forel 1908 and cephalica sarrita Forel 1908. Wilson (2003) synonymized these under cephalica.
Wilson, E. O. 1987 ("1986"). The organization of flood evacuation in the ant genus Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Sociaux 33:458-469.
Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Ant Genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass
Formica vorax FabriciusHNS, 1804: 412. Lectotype and two paralectotype queens, here designated: Central America [ZMUC] (images examined). Roger, 1863: 30: combination in AphaenogasterHNS. Emery, 1915: 69: combination in PheidoleHNS.
Pheidole opaca MayrHNS, 1862: 749. Syntype major, minor worker: Brazil, "Im Gebiete des Amazonenstromes" [Amazonian region] (M. C. Vienn) (not examined). Forel, 1899: 69: description of queen. Borgmeier, 1934: 97: description of queen. Kempf, 1965: 183: junior synonym of P. cephalicaHNS. New Synonymy.
Kempf, 1972: 188: subspecies of P. cephalicaHNS. Wilson, 2003: 674: junior synonym of P. cephalicaHNS. New Synonymy. Pheidole opaca subsp. sarrita ForelHNS, 1908: 59. Syntype minor worker: Costa Rica, Surubres, near San Mateo (Biolley) [MHNG] (examined). Kempf, 1972: 188: subspecies of P. cephalicaHNS. Wilson, 2003: 674: junior synonym of P cephalicaHNS. New Synonymy.
Pheidole opaca subsp. apterostigmoides WeberHNS, 1943: 71, fig. 3. Syntype major, minor worker: Trinidad, Basin Hill Forest Reserve, 1 Apr 1935 (Weber) (not examined). Kempf, 1972: 188: subspecies of P. cephalicaHNS. Wilson, 2003: 674: junior synonym of P. cephalicaHNS. New Synonymy.
Mainland Neotropics from southern Mexico to Amazon basin and Bolivia.
This species occurs in wet to moist forest habitats. It nests in dead wood on or near the ground. Workers recruit to dead insects and other baits, and also harvest seeds. Large seed caches can be found in nests. Wilson (1987) demonstrated that minor workers were extremely sensitive to the presence of standing water. Even a few drops in the nest of a laboratory colony caused it to immediately evacuate the nest.
Three syntype queens are in the Fabricius collection at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Dr. L. Vilhelmsen provided images and measurements of the queens, and they match in every respect Smith's P. cephalicaHNS. This is a widespread and distinctive species without closely similar species with which it might be confused, so the synonymy seems secure. One of the queens has a type label, based on the informal "typification" carried out by Zimsen (1964). At the recommendation of L. Vilhelmsen, curator of the collection, the specimen with the type label is formally designated Lectotype in this paper.
There is geographic variation in sculpture and color. In Costa Rica, minor workers from Corcovado National Park in the southern Pacific lowlands have the face and mesosoma evenly foveolate, overlain with relatively weak rugae, and the color is light orange. Specimens from near Monteverde on the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Tilaran have the face and mesosoma with coarse, abundant, reticulate rugae, these overlying a largely smooth and shining integument, and the color is light orange. This form matches closely the subspecies P. incrustataHNS. Specimens from the Penas Blancas Valley, a short distance east of Monteverde on the Atlantic slope, are very similar but the color is darker red orange. Specimens from La Selva Biological Station and elsewhere in the Atlantic lowlands have the coarsely rugose sculpture of Monteverde specimens, but increasing underlying foveolation on the mesosoma, like the Corcovado specimens, and the color is darker red orange. This form matches the subspecies P. sarritaHNS.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 9 times found in mature wet forest, 4 times found in montane rainforest, 2 times found in 2º lowland rainforest, 4 times found in wet forest, 3 times found in lowland wet forest, 1 times found in mature moist forest, 3 times found in mature rainforest, edge of forest near pasture and agricultural land, steep rocky terrain, 1 times found in tropical rainforest, 1 times found in cloud forest edge, 1 times found in montane wet forest, along ridge leading to stream, oak trees, near pasture, ...
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 16 times at bait, 10 times ex sifted leaf litter, 1 times Small patch of moist forest, colony in the hollow core of a dead tree sapling, t, 1 times nest in dead wood, 1 times foragers, 1 times Primary, 1 times in rotten wood, 2 times beating veg., 1 times at bait on tree trunk, 1 times Workers on ground taking beetle grubs from rotting palm inflorescence. CES., 1 times Wet forest. Strays., ...
Collected most commonly using these methods: 18 times baiting, 15 times search, 9 times miniWinkler, 3 times bait, 3 times beating, 2 times H, 1 times Lure/Bait, 1 times maxiWinkler, 1 times Winkler, 1 times Ex rotten log, 1 times hand collecting, ...
Elevations: collected from 5 - 1150 meters, 469 meters average
Type specimens: Lectotype Pheidole vorax: jtl297453; Paralectotype Pheidole vorax: jtl297454, jtl297455; syntype of Pheidole cephalica: casent0901585, casent0901586; syntype of Pheidole opaca: casent0919772, casent0919773; syntype of Pheidole opaca incrustata: casent0904346, jtlc000014068; syntype of Pheidole opaca sarrita: casent0904347; syntype of Pheidole opaca sarrita: jtlc000014069