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Species: Pheidole perpusilla   Emery, 1894 

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Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2023)

Pheidole flavens subsp. perpusilla Emery, 1894d PDF: 157 (s.w.q.) BRAZIL (Pará). Neotropic. Primary type information: Primary type material: syntype major workers, syntype minor workers, syntype queens (numbers not stated). Primary type locality: Brazil: Pará (A. Schultz). Primary type depository: MSNG. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Subspecies of Pheidole flavens: Forel, 1895b PDF: 142.
Senior synonym of Pheidole breviscapa: Longino, 2009 PDF: 61.
Senior synonym of Pheidole decem: Wilson, 2003a: 553; Longino, 2009 PDF: 61.
Senior synonym of Pheidole emersoni: Wilson, 2003a: 553; Longino, 2009 PDF: 61.
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Americas: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):

Distribution Notes:

Southern Mexico to Amazonian Brazil. Costa Rica: Atlantic and southern Pacific lowlands.


This species occurs in wet climate areas, from sea level to 1200m elevation. In mature forest areas it is a common species under epiphytes in the canopy, although its minute size makes it easy to overlook. It also occurs on trees in synanthropic habitats such as coffee farms and city parks.


The Pheidole perpusilla group contains species with 10-segmented antennae. The taxonomic status of the group as outlined by Wilson (2003) is as follows:

gemmula Wilson 2003. Amazonian Peru.
globularia Wilson 2003. Ecuador.
perpusilla Emery 1894. Panama to Amazonian Brazil.
= decem Forel 1901. Trinidad.
= emersoni Wheeler 1922. Guyana.
zeteki M. R. Smith 1947. Panama.

There is still plenty of confusion about what constitutes a species in this complex, and more work is needed. Species differences have been largely based on differences in sculpture on the face and pronotum. However, we have seen considerable variation in face sculpture among material from La Selva Biological Station, and we now consider this to be intraspecific variation within one population.

Pheidole perpusilla was described from Belem as being like flavens, with the same sculpture. This implies an entirely foveolate mesosoma and face. MCZ material that has 10-segmented antennae and completely foveolate face and mesosoma includes numerous collections from northern South America and collections from BCI, including the types of zeteki. Wilson kept perpusilla and zeteki as distinct species, with perpusilla having longitudinal rugulae that extend over the entire face of the major, and zeteki having longitudinal rugulae restricted to the anterior half. Wilson reported both species from BCI. We suspect the details of major face sculpture is intraspecifically variable and doubt there will be evidence for two sympatric species on BCI. Pheidole zeteki should be viewed as a potential synonym of perpusilla.

Wilson synonymized P. decem under perpusilla, and described the minor worker of perpusilla as having face and mesosoma completely foveolate and opaque. Yet the original description of decem describes the pronotum as smooth and shining. As noted above, such sculpture could be intraspecifically variable in perpusilla, and Wilson's synonymization of decem correct, but if so Wilson's diagnosis of perpusilla needs to be modified to include the variation.

At La Selva Biological Station what we are calling perpusilla has been frequently collected, and most specimens have a shallowly foveolate face and pronotum. The sculpture contrasts with the more strongly foveolate and opaque surface of perpusilla material from BCI. The few collections from the southern Pacific lowlands have a completely smooth and shiny face and pronotum, like the species gemmula and globularia from Ecuador and Peru. We used to consider these to be a different species, but further collecting at La Selva revealed variability in the degree of shininess on the face, and one collection approached the condition seen in Pacific slope material. So we are using the oldest name in the complex to refer to all the Costa Rica material until further research shows evidence of multiple species.


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

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Pheidole perpusilla   Wilson, E. O., 2003, Pheidole in the New World. A dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 553, (download) 553 20017
Pheidole perpusilla   Emery, C., 1896, Studi sulle formiche della fauna Neotropica., Bollettino della Societa Entomologica Italiana 28, pp. 33-107: 48, (download) 48 3798
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

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 11 times found in rainforest, 1 times found in 2nd growth rainforest, 3 times found in premontane rainforest, 7 times found in wet forest canopy, 7 times found in montane wet forest, 1 times found in dry forest stream edge, 3 times found in CCL 400, 5 times found in CES 300m., 2 times found in mature rainforest, 3 times found in SSO 350m, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times in bromeliad in Erythrina crown, 4 times at bait, 1 times at bait on treetrunk, 4 times Malaise trap, 1 times under epiphyte mat in treefall, 1 times nest under live leaf on treetrunk, 3 times ex sifted leaf litter, 3 times on extrafloral nectaries, 1 times nocturnal foragers, 1 times ex termite mound, 3 times epiphytic material, Virola koschnyi, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 40 times Fogging, 10 times Search, 9 times Berlese, 8 times Malaise, 4 times bait, 2 times miniWinkler, 2 times flight intercept trap, 2 times Winkler, 1 times Foggin, 1 times Winkler48h.

Elevations: collected from 5 - 1200 meters, 143 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1967-03-09 00:00:00.0 and 2018-10-13 00:00:00.0

Type specimens: holotype Pheidole breviscapa: jtlc000015321; syntype of Pheidole decem: casent0908313; syntype of Pheidole flavens perpusilla: casent0904414, casent0904415

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