Big-headed Ant

Pheidole xerophila

Pheidole sp., photo © 2004 by Dale Ward

Pheidole xerophila - a winged queen is at the right of the photo, a major is just to the left of her, and you can see a group of three minor workers next to the major. This photograph was taken by Dale Ward. Contact Dale ( for questions regarding use of his images.

Formicidae -- Ant Family

There are several species of Pheidole ants common to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Not only are the major workers larger than the minors by a considerable degree, their heads are much larger by proportion. The huge mandibles and muscles allow the majors to crack seeds, haul large debris and to crush opponents. These ants possess a sting, but are considerably less aggressive in stinging than Harvester Ants and Fire Ants.

These ants are common in the Sonoran Desert especially on rocky bajadas and adjacent to riparian zones. Besides seeds they will also forage for insects and other food items.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 8 Dec. 2008,
updated 11 Feb. 2019.