Aphaenogaster picea

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Aphaenogaster picea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Aphaenogaster
Species: A. picea
Binomial name
Aphaenogaster picea
(Wheeler, W.M., 1908)



Specimen Label


A common ant in the eastern United States, it can be found across a wide range of forest habitats. Aphaenogaster picea is closely related to Aphaenogaster rudis, with which is shares many morphological and biological characteristics. It will preferentially nest in downed wood and old stumps but is rather opportunistic and flexible in that it will nest under bark, under objects on the ground, in soil, or in any cavity that provides a suitable range of temperature and protection. Their omnivorous foragers are important dispersers of myrmecochorous seeds.

Photo Gallery

  • Foraging worker.
  • Worker returning to her nest with a prey item. Horn Pond Hill, Woburn, Massachusetts, USA, 27 June 2013, collected by Gary D. Alpert in small forest on side of hill. Nest under a stone.
  • Aphaenogaster picea. Male ants (with wings) are rather different beasts than their sisters. They exist solely to disperse the colony's genes, and perform no other work in the nest. South Bristol, New York, USA. Photo by Alex Wild.
  • Workers within their nest.
  • A nest with workers and larvae.


Aphaenogaster picea is diagnosed by the last four antennal segments being lighter in color than the rest of the antenna, by its piceous color and northern ranges in North America (DeMarco, 2015).

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 48.69505556° to 23.61511°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.


This species is closely related to Aphaenogaster rudis. An account of the biology of these species (see the biology section of the A. rudis species page) was summarized by Lubertazzi (2012).

Paluh et al (2015) found this ant was a preferred prey of the Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).

This species is a host for the ant Aphaenogaster tennesseensis (a temporary parasite).

Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Source: antkeeping.info.



Images from AntWeb

Aphaenogaster picea casent0104844 head 1.jpgAphaenogaster picea casent0104844 profile 1.jpgAphaenogaster picea casent0104844 dorsal 1.jpgAphaenogaster picea casent0104844 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0104844. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by UCDC, Davis, CA, USA.


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • picea. Stenamma (Aphaenogaster) fulvum var. piceum Wheeler, W.M. 1908f: 621.
    • [First available use of Stenamma (Aphaenogaster) fulvum subsp. aquia var. piceum Emery, 1895c: 305 (w.q.m.) U.S.A (Connecticut, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey), CANADA (no state data); unavailable (infrasubspecific) name.]
    • [Note: type-locality designated as Connecticut by Creighton, 1950a: 148.]
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster (Attomyrma): Emery, 1921f: 57.
    • As unavailable (infrasubspecific) name: Wheeler, W.M. 1900c: 48; Wheeler, W.M. 1901c: 724; Wheeler, W.M. 1904e: 303; Wheeler, W.M. 1905f: 383; Wheeler, W.M. 1906b: 6; Wheeler, W.M. 1910g: 565; Wheeler, W.M. 1916m: 586; Emery, 1921f: 57; Smith, M.R. 1928c: 275; Dennis, 1938: 286; Wing, 1939: 162; Wesson, L.G. & Wesson, R.G. 1940: 93; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 796.
    • Subspecies of fulva: Buren, 1944a: 284.
    • Subspecies of rudis: Enzmann, J. 1947b: 150 (in key); Creighton, 1950a: 148; Smith, M.R. 1958c: 118; Smith, M.R. 1967: 352; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1362.
    • [Note: picea was made available earlier than rudis; hence picea has priority (Bolton, 1995b: 72).]
    • Status as species: Bolton, 1995b: 72; Umphrey, 1996: 558 (in key); Mackay & Mackay, 2002: 76; Coovert, 2005: 48; MacGown & Forster, 2005: 71; Ellison, et al. 2012: 230; Mackay & Mackay, 2017: 358 (redescription).
    • Senior synonym of punctithorax: Mackay & Mackay, 2017: 358.
  • punctithorax. Aphaenogaster texana subsp. punctithorax Cole, 1938a: 239, fig. 2 (w.) U.S.A. (Tennessee).
    • Unidentifiable taxon: Creighton, 1950a: 151;
    • unidentifiable taxon; incertae sedis in Aphaenogaster: Smith, D.R. 1979: 1364; Bolton, 1995b: 72.
    • Junior synonym of picea: Smith, M.R. 1951a: 796; Mackay & Mackay, 2017: 358.

Type Material

  • Stenamma fulvum piceum: Syntype, worker(s), queen(s), male(s), Canada, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, United States, location of material unknown.
  • Stenamma fulvum piceum: Syntype, worker(s), queen(s), male(s), locality not specified, Canada, location of material unknown.
  • Aphaenogaster texana punctithorax: Holotype, worker, Gregory Bald, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee, 3500 ft., United States, 35°31′0″N 83°52′0″W / 35.516667°N 83.866667°W / 35.516667; -83.866667, 19 October 1937, A.C. Cole, Cole No. C-T-2186, Cole Collection; minute surface nest beneath rock on wet, deciduous forested slope.
  • Aphaenogaster texana punctithorax: Paratype, 4 workers, Gregory Bald, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee, 3500 ft., United States, 35°31′0″N 83°52′0″W / 35.516667°N 83.866667°W / 35.516667; -83.866667, 19 October 1937, A.C. Cole, Cole No. C-T-2186, Cole Collection; minute surface nest beneath rock on wet, deciduous forested slope.



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Booher D., J. A. MacGown, R. M. Duffield, and S. P. Hubbell. 2012. Density and Dispersion of Cavity Dwelling Ant Species in Nuts of Eastern US Forest Floors. Entomological Society of America annual meeting Knoxville, 2012.
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1949. The ants of Mountain Lake, Virginia. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 24: 155-156.
  • Davis W. T., and J. Bequaert. 1922. An annoted list of the ants of Staten Island and Long Island, N. Y. Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 17(1): 1-25.
  • DeMarco B. B., and A. I. Cognato. 2016. A multiple-gene phylogeny reveals polyphyly among eastern North American Aphaenogaster species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zoologica Scripta DOI: 10.1111/zsc.12168
  • Del Toro I., K. Towle, D. N. Morrison, and S. L. Pelini. 2013. Community Structure, Ecological and Behavioral Traits of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Massachusetts Open and Forested Habitats. Northeastern Naturalist 20: 1-12.
  • Dennis C. A. 1938. The distribution of ant species in Tennessee with reference to ecological factors. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 31: 267-308.
  • Drummond F. A., A. M. llison, E. Groden, and G. D. Ouellette. 2012. The ants (Formicidae). In Biodiversity of the Schoodic Peninsula: Results of the Insect and Arachnid Bioblitzes at the Schoodic District of Acadia National Park, Maine. Maine Agricultural and forest experiment station, The University of Maine, Technical Bulletin 206. 217 pages
  • Ellison A. M., and E. J. Farnsworth. 2014. Targeted sampling increases knowledge and improves estimates of ant species richness in Rhode Island. Northeastern Naturalist 21(1): NENHC-13–NENHC-24.
  • Emery C. 1895. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der nordamerikanischen Ameisenfauna. (Schluss). Zoologische Jahrbücher. Abteilung für Systematik, Geographie und Biologie der Tiere 8: 257-360.
  • Enzmann J. 1947. New forms of Aphaenogaster and Novomessor. J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 55: 147-152.
  • Field Museum Collection, Chicago, Illinois (C. Moreau)
  • Forster J.A. 2005. The Ants (hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Alabama. Master of Science, Auburn University. 242 pages.
  • Guénard B., K. A. Mccaffrey, A. Lucky, and R. R. Dunn. 2012. Ants of North Carolina: an updated list (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 3552: 1-36.
  • Headley A. E. 1943. The ants of Ashtabula County, Ohio (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). The Ohio Journal of Science 43(1): 22-31.
  • Ivanov, K. 2019. The ants of Ohio (Hymenoptera, Formicidae): an updated checklist. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 70: 65–87.
  • Ivanov K., L. Hightower, S. T. Dash, and J. B. Keiper. 2019. 150 years in the making: first comprehensive list of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Virginia, USA. Zootaxa 4554 (2): 532–560.
  • Ivanov K., and J. Keiper. 2009. Effectiveness and Biases of Winkler Litter Extraction and Pitfall Trapping for Collecting Ground-Dwelling Ants in Northern Temperate Forests. Environ. Entomol. 38(6): 1724-1736.
  • Longino, J.T. 2010. Personal Communication. Longino Collection Database
  • MacGown, J.A and J.A. Forster. 2005. A preliminary list of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Alabama, U.S.A. Entomological News 116(2):61-74
  • MacGown, J.A. and JV.G. Hill. Ants of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee and North Carolina).
  • MacGown. J. 2011. Ants collected during the 25th Annual Cross Expedition at Tims Ford State Park, Franklin County, Tennessee
  • Mahon M. B., K. U. Campbell, and T. O. Crist. 2017. Effectiveness of Winkler litter extraction and pitfall traps in sampling ant communities and functional groups in a temperate forest. Environmental Entomology 46(3): 470–479.
  • Menke S. B., E. Gaulke, A. Hamel, and N. Vachter. 2015. The effects of restoration age and prescribed burns on grassland ant community structure. Environmental Entomology http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvv110
  • Menke S. B., and N. Vachter. 2014. A comparison of the effectiveness of pitfall traps and winkler litter samples for characterization of terrestrial ant (Formicidae) communities in temperate savannas. The Great Lakes Entomologist 47(3-4): 149-165.
  • Merle W. W. 1939. An Annotated List of the Ants of Maine (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomological News. 50: 161-165
  • Smith M. R. 1934. A list of the ants of South Carolina. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 42: 353-361.
  • Sturtevant A. H. 1931. Ants collected on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Psyche (Cambridge) 38: 73-79
  • Umphrey G. J. 1996. Morphometric discrimination among sibling species in the fulva-rudis-texana complex of the ant genus Aphaenogaster (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Can. J. Zool. 74: 528-559.
  • Wesson L. G., and R. G. Wesson. 1939. Notes on Strumigenys from southern Ohio, with descriptions of six new species. Psyche (Cambridge) 46: 91-112.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1900. The habits of Ponera and Stigmatomma. Biological Bulletin (Woods Hole). 2: 43-69.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1906. Fauna of New England. 7. List of the Formicidae. Occasional Papers of the Boston Society of Natural History 7: 1-24
  • Wing M. W. 1939. An annotated list of the ants of Maine (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomological News 50:161-165.