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Pheidole moerens Wheeler HNS

Pheidole moerens Wheeler HNS 1908a: 136. Syn.: Pheidole moerens subsp. creola Wheeler HNS and Mann 1914: 25, n. syn. ; Pheidole moerens subsp. dominicensis Wheeler HNS 1913e: 241, synonymy by Naves 1985: 65.

Types Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist.; Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard.

Etymology Unknown, possibly Gr Moira, goddess of destiny.

Diagnosis Similar to exigua HNS , flavens HNS , nitidicollis HNS , nuculiceps HNS , orbica HNS , pholeops HNS , and sculptior HNS , easily confused with the sympatric and abundant flavens HNS , distinguished as follows.

Major: variably reddish brown; occiput smooth and shiny, and most of rest of head carinulate, with a small patch of rugoreticulum just behind the antennal fossa on each side; intercarinal spaces on head sparsely foveolate, subopaque to feebly shining; anterior half of pronotum carinulate; postpetiole from above elliptical.

Minor: medium to dark brown; small, loose rugoreticulum present mesad to each eye; rugulae extend posterior to eyes; all of head and mesosoma foveolate.

P. moerens HNS is distinguished from flavens HNS by the broader smooth space of the occiput and feebler intercarinular foveolation on the head of the major, and especially by the darker color and more extensive sculpturing of the minor.

Measurements (mm) Syntype major: HW 0.84, HL 0.90, SL 0.46, EL 0.10, PW 0.40. Syntype minor: HW 0.42, HL 0.48, SL 0.44, EL 0.06, PW 0.26. Color Major: medium reddish brown, with vertex a shade darker.

Minor: body medium to dark brown, appendages brownish yellow. According to Naves (1985), the shade of color in laboratory colonies fed with house flies is darker than in colonies fed only with honey.

Range Scattered populations occur in the West Indies (Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Culebra) and southern United States (Florida; Mobile, Alabama; Houston, Texas). The native range is unknown, but may be the Greater Antilles.

Biology On Sanibel Island, Florida, I found colonies of moerens HNS abundant, nesting in sandy soil at the base of trees in parks and around houses; and in Houston in a rotting tree limb on the ground of a park. Naves (1985) records nests in northern Florida from a wide range of sites, under boards, at the base of trees and fence posts, along tree roots, under palm leaves, inside wall crevices, but only rarely in the soil. According to Naves, the colonies are monogynous, with nuptial flights usually occurring in July. Colonies grow to populations of 600 or more workers, of which somewhat fewer than 20 percent are majors. In nature they feed on seeds and insects, the latter taken alive or scavenged.

Figure Upper: syntype, major. Lower: syntype, minor. PUERTO RICO: Utuado. (Type locality: Culebra Island, West Indies.) Scale bars = 1 mm.


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