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Species: Pheidole flavens   Roger, 1863 

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See Also:

Pheidole flavens thomensis

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2021)

Extant: 1 valid subspecies

Pheidole flavens Roger, 1863a PDF: 198 (s.w.q.) CUBA. Neotropic. Primary type information: Neotype: Barrajagua, Las Villas, CUBA (E.O. Wilson); MCZC AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Status as species: Roger, 1863b PDF: 31; Mayr, 1863a PDF: 440; Mayr, 1870b PDF: 981 (in key); Mayr, 1887 PDF: 593 (in key); Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 90; Emery, 1894d PDF: 155; Forel, 1895b PDF: 141; Emery, 1896g PDF: 82 (in key); Forel, 1899b PDF: 77; Wheeler, 1905c PDF: 92, 125; Forel, 1908c PDF: 60; Forel, 1908a PDF: 65; Forel, 1913m PDF: 230; Wheeler, 1913b PDF: 493; Wheeler & Mann, 1914 PDF: 24; Mann, 1916 PDF: 439; Wheeler, 1917g PDF: 459; Mann, 1920b PDF: 427; Emery, 1922c PDF: 107; Wheeler, 1922: 1018; Wheeler, 1922e PDF: 6; Wheeler, 1925a: 23; Santschi, 1930e PDF: 77; Kusnezov, 1952d PDF: 71 (in key); Kusnezov, 1953c PDF: 337; Smith, 1954c PDF: 4; Gregg, 1959 PDF: 13 (in key); Kempf, 1972b PDF: 191; Alayo, 1974 PDF: 11 (in key); Smith, 1979: 1370; Bolton, 1995b: 321; Deyrup et al., 2000: 296; Deyrup, 2003 PDF: 46; Wilson, 2003a: 419 (redescription); LaPolla & Cover, 2005 PDF: 371; Wild, 2007b PDF: 34; Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012 PDF: 259; Ellison et al., 2012: 303; Bezděčková et al., 2015 PDF: 119; Sarnat et al., 2015 10.3897/zookeys.543.6050 PDF: 42 (redescription); Deyrup, 2017: 88; Lubertazzi, 2019 10.3099/MCZ-43.1 PDF: 143; Serna et al., 2019 PDF: 948.
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Galapagos Islands, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States
    Asia: India
    Europe: Germany
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Indomalaya, Nearctic, Neotropical, Palearctic
  Native to (according to species list records):
    Indomalaya, Neotropical bioregions

Distribution Notes:

Very widespread in Neotropics: Florida, West Indies, Central America, South America to southern Brazil. Costa Rica: throughout the country to about 1000m elevation.


This species is very common and very generalized. It is found in dry forest and wet forest habitats. It is common in Winkler samples and at baits. Nests are found in small cavities (under dead wood on ground, in dead sticks, in dead knots on tree trunks, under bark flaps, under epiphytes) from litter layer to high canopy.

Wilson (2005) observed that P. flavens and two other species of small Pheidole (bilimeki and nebulosa) frequently prey on oribatid mites in the leaf litter.



BOLD specimens show multiple clusters of flavens-like specimens. One cluster is from Nicaragua and NW Costa Rica. One is from Belize, central and north coastal Honduras, NW and eastern Costa Rica. One is from BCI, Panama. One is from Ecuador. Two clusters are sympatric in NW Costa Rica. No morphological differences have been detected.


Wilson (2003) considers there to be two closely related species, flavens and exigua, that have broadly overlapping ranges. The type locality of exigua is French Guiana. The type locality of flavens is Cuba (based on a Neotype designated by Wilson). In the key to the flavens group the two species are distinguished at couplet 129: the edges of the pronotal humeri bear small patches of rugoreticulum in flavens and lack rugoreticulum in exigua. We have not been able to separate Costa Rican material into two species.



Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Ant Genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass

Wilson, E. O. 2005. Oribatid mite predation by small ants of the genus Pheidole. Insectes Sociaux 52:263-265.

(Admin only) Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Forel, A., 1893:
[[ worker ]] [[ soldier ]] [[ queen ]] [[ male ]]. (No. 36 a a 86 i).
[[ soldier ]]. Le quart posterieur de la tete lisse et luisant. Couleur variant du rouge jaunatre au roux brunatre, avec l'abdomen et les pattes plus clairs, d'un jaune plus ou moins brunatre. Pilosite de la tete et du thorax plus abondante, et, surtout celle du thorax, plus longue que chez le type. Epines du metanotum parfois presque aussi longues que la face basale, ou comme ses 2 / 3, Le pronotum et le mesonotum forment une convexite tres courte et tres forte; ce dernier est presque verticalement tronque derriere. L. 2 a 2, 2 mill.
[[ worker ]]. Memes differences que le [[ soldier ]]. Couleur souvent d'un brun a peine roussatre; tete et thorax tres mats, densement reticules, ponctues, sauf l'epistome (a part les rides). L. 1, 5 mill. Ne connaissant pas le type, je ne puis juger exactement des differences, D'apres Roger, le [[ soldier ]] et l'ouvriere n'ont que des dents au metanotum d'apres Mayr ce sont des epines. A cet egard, nos exemplaires correspondraient a ceux de Mayr.
[[ queen ]]. Correspond a la description de Roger, mais le metanotum a des epines bien plus longues que larges. Thorax petit, abdomen grand. Tete faiblement elargie derriere. Second n oe ud du pedicule sans conules lateraux. Metanotum ride en travers. L. 3,5 a 8, 7 mill.
[[ male ]] (inedit). L. 3 a 3, 2 mill. Mandibules triangulaires, bidentees et avec un angle posterieur. Face declive du metanotum assez nettement distincte de la face basale, aussi longue qu'elle et assez abrupte. Tete densement striee-ridee, mate, tres finement reticulee- ponctuee entre les stries. Metanotum densement reticule et mat; le reste lisse et luisant. Pilosite des pattes assez dressee et assez longue. Entierement jaune, sauf le vertex et l'occiput qui sont bruns. Tache marginale d'un brun fonce; nervures assez pales; ailes assez faiblement teintees d'un jaune brunatre.
Espece evidemment tres repandue a St. Vincent.
(36). A common species, generally second growth; open places or forest. Forms large communities (of several thousand sometimes), the workers major constituting from one-fourth to one-third of the whole. The formicarium is found in rotten wood, under sod, or sometimes under stones or sticks. It consists generally of several smoothly-worked passages, which may be eight to twelve inches long,. and forming an irregular network; at the junctions of the passages are small chambers, and of these there may be twenty in a single nest. The ants also make arched galleries on the outside of the log containing the formicarium, or, if it is under sod, in cavities that are too large for their purposes; these galleries resemble those made by termites, and it is possible that the ants simply utilise the old • termite-galleries. Each community, however large, seems to have but one. gravid female, and, as she keeps to an inner chamber, it is often difficult to find her. The workers major also keep to the inner passages and chambers. They, as well as the female, are very sluggish; the workers minor much less so. I have not found the workers on foliage. Apparently the species is nocturnal; it ranges to 3000 ft.
N. B. - Closely allied to No. 35, and I cannot discriminate the workers minor with my lens; but great care has been taken to keep specimens from the same nest together.
(36 a). Islet fronting Chate & ubelais Bay (leeward), Oct. 31 st. Rocky ground overlooking sea; in thickets. Formicarium in a rotten stump.
(36 b). Southern end of the island; thickets near sea at the Villa Estate. Oct. 14 th. A large colony (several thousand) in rubbish under stones and blocks of coral.
(36 c). Near Palmyra Estate (leeward), 1000 ft. Nov. 3 rd. The workers are from two formicaria in neighbouring, logs; open field near a stream. The communities were both large. I copy from my field-note: - " Under the log are passages and considerable chambers (1 1 / 2 x 2 in.), walled in with a rather tough material formed of wood-fibre. Small holes 1 / 16 in.) lead perpendicularly into the log, sometimes two or three inches, to many chambers, each about one inch long; in these are the larvae and workers major. Only one female was found after long search. Perhaps the ants utilise the borings of beetles for their passages into the wood. The logs were only partly decayed, and rather hard. " (36 d). Fitz-Hugh Valley (leeward), 500 ft.; near a stream; shady place. A large formicarium under sod on a rock.
(36 e). Soufriere Volcano, 2500 ft.; open land near the crater. June, Formicarium under moss. Not noted. -
(36 f). Wallilobo Valley (leeward), 500 ft. Nov. 8 th. Second growth, under sod on a rock. A large community, with passages extending for nearly two feet among the roots of the sod.
(36 g). Near Fort Charlotte, Kingstown, 500 ft. Oct. 24 th. Shady place, loamy soil. Formicarium under a stone (imperfectly observed).
(36 h). Wallilobo Valley (leeward), 500 ft. Nov. 8 th. Second growth. A large formicarium under sod on a rock.
(36 i). Fitz-Hugh Valley (leeward), 500 ft, Nov. 4 th. A large community, at roots of sod on a rock near stream; open place.
(36 j). Wallilobo Valley (leeward), 500 ft. Nov. 8 th. Forest near stream. A small colony (apparently) under sod on a rock.
(36 k). Fitz-Hugh Valley, 500 ft. Nov. 4 th. Shady place. Formicarium in rotten wood. It was large, with many passages and chambers; outside of the log these communicated with galleries formed of wood-fibre, possibly old termite-galleries. The female was found, after long search, in an inner chamber, unattended by workers. Males (immature) were abundant in the outer passages.
(36 l). Fitz-Hugh Valley (leeward), 500 ft. Nov. 4 th. Under vines and weeds on a rock. Long passages and artificial galleries. A large community. Numerous males.
(36 m). Leeward, near Chateaubelais, 500 ft. April. Flying at twilight. A female referred to this species.
(36 n). Female referred to this species. Not noted.
(36 o). Mountain forest, 3000 ft. March. Under decaying leaves.
(36 p). Petit Bordelle Valley, 1500 ft. Nov. 13 th. Open place near stream; under sod on a rock. A large colony.
(36 q). Petit Bordelle Valley, 1600 ft. Nov. 13 th. Clearing. A small colony (apparently) in rotten wood.
(36 r). Near Brighton Estate; southern end of island. Nov. 17 th. Open place, 500 ft.; under sod on a rock.
(36 s). Leeward; Cumberland and Wallibou Valleys; edge of forest, 700 - 1000 ft. Dec. 1 st - 10 th. From several nests under sod on rocks.
(36 t). Windward, near Grand Sable; thicket adjoining the seashore. Nest under sod on a rock. Few males and one female were seen.

Roger, J., 1863:
Soldat, etwas ueber 2 Millim. lang, hell roethlich gelb, glaenzend, maessig abstehend behaart, Hinterleib etwas heller. Der Kopf ist gross, etwas breiter ab das Abdomen, am Vorderhand schwaerzlich, hinten stark ausgerandet und vor der Aufrandung ziemlich breit und tief eingedrueckt. Keine Stirnrinne. Vorn und in der Mitte ist der Kopf dichter-, seitlich weitlaeufig laengsgestreift oder gerunzelt, nach hinten aber glatt. Die Mandibeln sind zerstreut punktirt, sonst glatt, am Schneiderand schwaerzlich, vorn zweizaehnig, d. h. vor der Spitze eingekerbt. Das Pronotum hat vorgezogene, aber abgerundete Ecken, ist oben fast glatt oder sehr undeutlich quer gerunzelt. Das Mesonotum ist hinten abgestutzt, quer vorragend. Das Metanotum hat 2 Zaehne. Das zweite Stielchenglied ist quadratisch, abgerundet, hinten nur sehr wenig schmaeler als vorn, in der Mitte nicht ausgezogen. Hinterleib glatt, Schienen abstehend behaart.
[[ worker ]] l. 5 Millim. lang, ebenfalls hell roethlich gelb, Kopf und Thorax matt, Hinterleib glaenzend, maessig abstehend behaart, ebenso die Beine. Kopf vorn mit dem Clipeus fein laengsrunzlig, im Uebrigen wie auch der Thorax sehr, fein und dicht verworren, oder fingerhutartig punktirt. Pro- und. Mesonotum ohne Grenze, gewoelbt, vom Metanotum tief abgetrennt, dieses mit 2 kurzen, an der Basis ziemlich breiten Zaehnen. Zweiter Knoten des Stielchens quadratisch, nur wenig breiter als der erste, mit abgerundeten Ecken. Hinterleib glatt.
[[ queen ]] 3.5 Millim. lang, ebenfalls roethlich gelb, Hinterleib fleckenweise braeunlich, glaenzend, reichlicher abstehend behaart. Kopf laengsgestreift oder gerunzelt, am Hinterrand und in der Mitte des, Clipeus glatt, ebenso die Mandibeln, die einzeln punktirt sind. Pround Mesonotum sind oben glatt, glaenzend, an der Seite wie das Metanotum schwach gerunzelt, letzteres mit 2 kurzen, ziemlich kraeftigen, nach rueckwaerts gerichteten Zaehnen. Fluegel sehr schwach gelblich getruebt, mit sehr blassen Adern.

Wilson, E. O.:
Pheidole flavens Roger 1863a: 166. Syn.: Pheidole exigua var. tuberculata Mayr 1887: 585, changed to flavens subsp. tuberculata Emery 1894d: 157, n. syn. ; Pheidole flavens var. vincentensis Forel 1893J: 411, n. syn. ; Pheidole flavens r. gracilior Forel 1901m: 78, n. syn. ; Pheidole flavens r. navigans Forel 1901m: 79, n. syn. ; Pheidole flavens var. haytiana Forel 1907h: 6, n. syn. ; Pheidole flavens st. spei Santschi 1930e: 77, n. syn. ; Pheidole floridana subsp. aechmeae Wheeler 1934g: 166, n. syn. ; Pheidole greggi Naves 1985: 62, n. syn.
Types or other authenticated material not seen: Pheidole flavens var. thomensis Emery 1894d: 156 (St. Thomas, West Indies); Pheidole flavens var. farquharensis Forel 1907g: 91 (Madagascar).
Unavailable names (ineligible quadrinomials) include Pheidole flavens tuberculata var. jheringi Emery 1894d: 157 (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil); Pheidole flavens asperithorax var. semipolita Emery 1896g: 78 (Para, Brazil); Pheidole flavens sculptior var. grenadensis Forel 1897b: 300 (Grenada, West Indies); Pheidole flavens asperithorax var. nugax Forel 1908h: 380 (Brazil); Pheidole flavens tuberculata var. putata Forel 1912g: 235 (Sao Paulo, Brazil); Pheidole flavens tuberculata var. platensis Forel 1914d: 273 (Buenos Aires, Argentina).
Diagnosis An extremely abundant, widespread species belonging to a complex of small, yellow, closely similar species that also includes asperithorax , breviscapa , cardiella , chloe , exigua , goeldii , kuna , mittermeieri , moerens , nitidicollis , nuculiceps , pholeops , striaticeps , and trinitatis . P. flavens differs from them in the following combination of traits.
Major: a shallow, relatively indistinct antennal scrobe present, its surface foveolate and opaque; weak rugoreticula often present mesad to'fhe eyes and at the posterior end of the carinulae on the lateral dorsal surface of the head, which are variable in extent and sometimes absent; carinulae along the midline of the dorsum of the head reaching the occipital border but occipital lobes seen in full-face view smooth and shiny; humeri usually with a small patch of rugoreticulum; lateral margins of pronotal dorsum also lined with short transverse carinulae; propodeal spine well-developed; postpetiolar node from above roughly trapezoidal; most of dorsal surface of head, all of mesosoma, and sides of waist foveolate and opaque.
Minor: carinulae limited to space mesad to antennal fossa and occasionally also to the frontal lobes and frontal triangle; all of head and mesosoma and sides of waist foveolate and opaque; dorsum of waist and all of gaster smooth and shiny; occiput broad and shallowly concave.
P. flavens is easily confused with P. exigua and P. moerens , also widespread and abundant species; see the differences under Diagnosis of those species in particular.
measurements (mm) Neotype major: HW 0.72, HL 0.74, SL 0.42, EL 0.08, PW 0.32. Paraneotype minor: HW 0.34, HL 0.42, SL 0.34, EL 0.06, PW 0.24. color Major and minor: medium to dark yellow.
range Pheidole flavens rivals P. jelskii as the most widespread and abundant species of the genus in the New World. Or, put more cautiously, this species or (possibly) this tightly knit group of sibling species I have considered to be the single species flavens has this distinction. It ranges from Florida, where it likely was introduced accidentally by commerce, thence throughout the West Indies, Central America, and most of tropical and subtropical South America as far south as Santa Catarina in Brazil. P. flavens colonies are easily transported by human agency, especially as hitchhikers in nursery stock, as witness the synonymous " var. gracilior' and " var. navigans " described by Auguste Forel from intercepted live ants in the German quarantine. I collected specimens from a thriving colony in a potted plant from Florida that had been transported to the office of the president of the World Wildlife Fund-U.S. in Washington, D.c. (at first I considered it a new sibling species but have since decided to place it within the broad variation offlavens). Even Forel's " variety farquharensis " from Madagascar, whose types I have not been able to locate, is almost certainly, if it is truly flavens , to have the same provenance.
biology The wide range and abundance of Pheidole flavens is due at least in part to its ability to use different microhabitats as nesting sites. Judging from the extensive data of H. H. Smith (in Forel 1893j) on St. Vincent and J. T. Longino (1997) in Costa Rica, as well as my own collecting records, flavens prefers rotting pieces of wood, but also utilizes spaces beneath the bark of trees, dead knots on tree trunks, sod on rocks, the soil beneath stones, and epiphyte masses. On St. Vincent it occurred (in the early 1890s at least) in forests and thickets from sea level to 900 m, and in Costa Rica it is found today in both wet and dry forests. The nest galleries are diffuse and irregular, the queens hard to find, and mature colonies large, containing up to thousands of workers. Workers collect small arthropods: a captive colony from Trinidad I maintained for over a year eagerly harvested live oribatid mites, and the workers had no difficulty abrading through their hard, smooth exoskeletons. Workers also recruit to sugar baits.
Figure Upper: neotype, major. Lower: paraneotype, minor. CUBA: Barrajagua, Las Villas (E. O. Wilson). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Wild, A. L., 2007:
Boquerón , Canindeyú , Central, Ñeembucú , Paraguarí , Pte. Hayes, San Pedro (ALWC, IFML, INBP, LACM). Literature records: “Paraguay” (s. loc.) (Emery 1894a).
Central, Paraguarí (ALWC).

Forel, A., 1908:
[[ worker ]] Surubres pres San Mateo, Costa Rica (Biolley), dans une orange pourrie.

Forel, A., 1907:
Une seule [[ worker ]] melee a des Camponotus grandidieri . Les scapes sont un peu plus courts, et atteignent a peine le bord occipital. Les epines metanotales sont greles et pointues. Pilosite un peu plus courte et moins effilee. Du reste je ne puis la distinguer du type de la Ph. flavens , n'ayant vu ni [[ soldier ]], ni [[ queen ]], ni [[ male ]]. Est-ce un transport par les vaisseaux de la Ph. flavens d'Amerique centrale, espece tres variable et abondante? Il faut plus de materiel pour decider. He Farquhar.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Pheidole flavens nov. sp ..  Roger, J., 1863, Die neu aufgeführten Gattungen und Arten meines Formiciden-Verzeichnisses, nebst Ergänzung einiger früher gegeben Beschreibungen., Berliner Entomologische Zeitschrift 7, pp. 131-214: 198, (download) 198 4101
Pheidole flavens   Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 35, (download) 35 21367
Pheidole perpusilla   Longino, J. T., 2009, Additions to the taxonomy of New World Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 2181, pp. 1-90: 60-61, (download) 60-61 22820
Pheidole flavens   Forel, A., 1908, Fourmis de Costa-Rica, récoltées par M. Paul Biolley., Bulletin de la Societe Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles 44, pp. 35-72: 60, (download) 60 4014
Pheidole flavens   Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 34, (download) 34 21367
Pheidole flavens   Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 419-420, (download) 419-420 20017

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 174 times found in mature wet forest, 110 times found in montane wet forest, 102 times found in tropical rainforest, 100 times found in tropical wet forest, 83 times found in 2º lowland rainforest, 63 times found in tropical moist forest, 35 times found in 2º wet forest, 20 times found in wet forest, 33 times found in lowland rainforest, 28 times found in 2º tropical rainforest, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 590 times ex sifted leaf litter, 169 times at bait, 48 times Hojarasca, 18 times sifted litter, 12 times ex sifted litter, 9 times beating vegetation, 3 times at baits, 4 times Del cruce de Cascante hacia el Ceibo, 6 times Sobre Vegetacion, 1 times nest under rock, 2 times under epiphytes, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 473 times miniWinkler, 155 times baiting, 106 times Winkler, 50 times search, 52 times MaxiWinkler, 38 times Berlese, 44 times Mini Winkler, 32 times Fogging, 29 times Malaise, 13 times bait, 13 times Beating, ...

Elevations: collected from 2 - 1860 meters, 310 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1927-06-05 and 2021-05-30

Type specimens: Lectotype of Pheidole flavens tuberculata: casent0915953; Not Provided: casent0283262, casent0713566, casent0713567, casent0717927; paralectotype of Pheidole flavens tuberculata: casent0915954; paratype Pheidole kuna: jtlc000016422; syntype of Pheidole flavens vincentensis: casent0901615; syntype of Pheidole flavens gracilior: casent0908267, casent0908268; syntype of Pheidole flavens haytiana: casent0908260; syntype of Pheidole flavens navigans: casent0908270; syntype of Pheidole flavens vincentensis: casent0908261, casent0908262; syntype of Pheidole flavens spei: casent0913323, casent0913324; type of Pheidole flavens var. haytiana: focol0032, focol0033; Type of unavailable quadrinomial: Pheidole flavens tuberculata platensis: casent0908276, casent0908277; Type of unavailable quadrinomial: Pheidole flavens tuberculata putata: casent0908275

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