Pheidole xerophila worker.

Pheidole xerophila is found from southern California through central Texas in the US, and down into Sonora, Mexico. In many areas within its range, this one of the most common species of Pheidole one is likely to encounter.

P. xerophila is part of the 'pilifera group', which consists of 48 species found in the US and Mexico. A high percentage (85%) of Pheidole species in this group are known to harvest seeds, and it is likely that most (as is the case with P. xerophila) also scavenge dead insects and other arthropods.

A typical nest of this ant usually consist of a small sand crater - sometimes ringed with chaff (the discarded seed husks and other unusable plant matter from previous harvests). Colonies are said to contain 300-400 minor workers, and 30-40 majors.

There are subtle differences in the appearance of P. xerophila major workers from different geographic regions. Those from southern Arizona (like the one pictured above), and some other locations, are considered by some to be a subspecies of P. xerophila (Pheidole xerophila tusconica), while other myrmecologists consider this variant to be a separate species altogether; Pheidole tusonica. For the purposes of this site, in accordance with E.O. Wilson, these ants will be considered to be geographic variants within the species Pheidole xerophila.

[IMAGE: Pheidole xerophila worker in southern Arizona, USA] [scroll down for additional notes/references]

ADDITIONAL NOTES/REFERENCES:

·Johnson, R.A. 2000. Seed Harvesting Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of North America: An Overview of Ecology and Biogeography. Sociobiology Vol.36, No. 1, 2000
·Wilson, E.O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant Hyperdiverse Ant Genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts