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Species: Pheidole indagatrix   Wilson, 2003 

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Pheidole indagatrix_nr

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2020)

Pheidole indagatrix Wilson, 2003A: 304, figs. (s.w.) COSTA RICA. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki HOL


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):

Distribution Notes:

Honduras to Costa Rica.


This common species occurs in wet to moist forest habitats. It also occurs across a broad range of elevations, from sea level to 1500m. At low elevations it is often in shaded forest understory, while at high elevation it occurs in open areas where sun reaches the ground (pastures, forest gaps). It occurs on the ground and has been observed foraging dirunally and nocturnally. It recruits to baits. It has been observed nesting under dead wood on the ground and in the low arboreal zone. The arboreal nests have been in cavities or under accreted soil.


DNA barcoding results show 15 specimens of indagatrix forming a tight cluster, with well under 3% sequence divergence. These specimens are from seven dispersed sites in Honduras and Nicaragua, and they also cluster with many specimens from NW Costa Rica. Oddly, one specimen of P. roushae also falls in this cluster, from a Honduras site where indagatrix also occurs. Pheidole roushae is very similar to indagatrix in size, shape, and pilosity. Pheidole indagatrix is dark brown and the minor has a shiny face. Pheidole roushae is yellow-orange and the minor has a foveolate face. The two species have a largely parapatric distribution, but there is a zone of sympatry along the Atlantic coast of Honduras. Thus it is possible there is some degree of introgression between indagatrix and roushae.

Minor workers from Cusuco National Park, Honduras, form a distinct DNA barcoding cluster that has about 10% sequence divergence from other indagatrix. The minor workers from this site are a bit larger than average, with more foveolation on face, but no consistent differences are known. Some specimens from NW Costa Rica also fall in this cluster. Thus there are two sympatric clusters of P. indagatrix-like specimens from NW Costa Rica. 

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Treatment Citation: Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Pheidole indagatrixHNS new species

Types Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard.

etymology L indagatrixHNS, huntress.

diagnosis A member of the fallaxHNS group with some similarities to haskinsorumHNS, hectorHNS, and petrensisHNS, distinguished as follows. Major: antennal scape surpasses occipital corner by about its own maximum width; frontal lobes mostly rugoreticulate; pilosity dense and long over all the body, many hairs longer than Eye Length; rugoreticula mesad to each eye extend most of the way to the anterior border of head; all of posterior half of dorsal surface of head punctate and opaque, as well as most of pronotum; anterior half of central strip of first gastral tergite shagreened; propodeal spines long and thin; postpetiole from above diamond-shaped. Minor: propodeal spines long and thin; pilosity dense, with many hairs as long as Eye Length; occiput narrow, with nuchal collar. Measurements (mm) Holotype major: HW 1.18, HL 1.26, SL 1.10, EL 0.20, PW 0.60. Paratype minor: HW 0.60, HL 0.80, SL 1.04, EL 0.20, PW 0.42.

Color Major: body and mandibles medium reddish brown; gaster medium brown; legs and antennae light reddish brown except for the tarsi, which are yellow.

Minor: body and mandibles medium reddish brown; rest of appendages yellowish brown.

Range A common species in Costa Rica from Meseta Central northward, up to 1500 m (Longino 1997).

Biology According to Longino (1997), indagatrixHNS occurs in moist to wet forests, both on the ground and in the canopy, and forages both day and night. It is equally flexible in nesting sites, with colonies having been found variously in and under dead wood on the ground, and in one case each, under accreted soil on the side of a tree trunk and in a hollow live stem. Winged males have been found in nests in January and March.

Figure Upper: holotype, major. Lower: paratype, minor. COSTA RICA: 3-5 km east of Turrialba (William L. Brown). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 143 times found in montane wet forest, 94 times found in ridgetop cloud forest, 55 times found in tropical rainforest, 51 times found in tropical wet forest, 28 times found in montane rainforest, 17 times found in wet forest, 28 times found in mature wet forest, 12 times found in cloud forest, 15 times found in 2º tropical rainforest, 6 times found in mesophyll forest, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 208 times at bait, 163 times ex sifted leaf litter, 24 times Hojarasca, 19 times Sobre Vegetacion, 12 times beating vegetation, 2 times pecan sandie bait, 4 times nest, 4 times Primary forest, 3 times bajo de M/09, 3 times at baits, 1 times nest in litter, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 203 times baiting, 114 times miniWinkler, 39 times MaxiWinkler, 18 times bait, 22 times Mini Winkler, 19 times search, 28 times Malaise, 14 times Winkler, 19 times Sweeping, 13 times Beating, 10 times flight intercept trap, ...

Elevations: collected from 6 - 1520 meters, 717 meters average

Type specimens: Holotype major Pheidole indagatrix: mcztype-34243

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