Aphaenogaster uinta

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Aphaenogaster uinta
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Stenammini
Genus: Aphaenogaster
Species: A. uinta
Binomial name
Aphaenogaster uinta
Wheeler, W.M., 1917



Specimen Label

A Great Basin and Colorado Plateau ant that favors arid areas but can be found in cool desert, pinyon-juniper and coniferous forest habitats. It can nest under wood or stones but will also build in exposed situations and create nest openings with 6 to 8 cm craters. It forages nocturnally and nests may contain several hundred workers.

Photo Gallery

  • Workers.
  • Queen.

These ants live between thin layer of limestone in arid areas (DeMarco, 2015).


Small to medium-sized. Bicolored: head and thorax yellowish red, gaster very dusky gray varying to head and thorax red, gaster very dusky red. In the field and to the unaided eye the gaster appears black; hence this species exhibits the coloration characteristic of several species of desert ants (Wheeler & Wheeler, 1973:12). Head and thorax partially shining, gaster strongly shining. (Wheeler & Wheeler, 1986)

Aphaenogaster uinta is one of several Aphaenogaster species with a lighter head and mesosoma, and darker gaster. They have large eyes, very short propodeal spines and scapes that extend just beyond the occiput of the head. (DeMarco, 2015)

Keys including this Species


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


Colorado Notes

So far as Colorado is concerned, this species is exceedingly rare. The sole record I possess for it was obtained from Dr. Creighton, who collected it a long time ago in the southwestern portion of the state. According to Creighton (1950), the ant is a Great Basin insect and it is said to thrive in areas of marked aridity. From these facts, we may assume that in the Mesa Verde area, Aphaenogaster uinta was, without much doubt, nesting in the dry, hot part of the park rather than in a Transition Zone locality. (Gregg, 1963)

Nevada Notes

In Nevada it is widely scattered throughout the state; 4,500-8,000 ft. We have 37 records from 31 localities. Eight records were from the Cool Desert (2 from disturbed habitats), 15 from the Pinyon-Juniper Biome, 1 from the Coniferous Forest Biome, and 1 from a building. Fifteen nests were under stones, 1 under a log; 2 nests were exposed with craters 6 and 8 cm in diameter. A mating flight occurred in Tonopah on 13 July. The myrmecophile Pilopius ocularis Casey (Coleoptera: Pselaphidae; det. R.R. Snelling) was found with this ant at Panaca Summit, Lincoln Co. 6,700 ft. (Wheeler & Wheeler, 1986)





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

  • uinta. Aphaenogaster uinta Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 517 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. (Utah).
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster (Attomyrma): Emery, 1921f: 60.
    • Status as species: Emery, 1921f: 60; Cole, 1936a: 36; Cole, 1942: 364; Creighton, 1950a: 154; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 798; Smith, M.R. 1958c: 119; Smith, M.R. 1967: 352; Yensen, et al. 1977: 183; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1363; Allred, 1982: 454; Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1986g: 37; Bolton, 1995b: 74; Mackay & Mackay, 2002: 78; Ward, 2005: 65; Mackay & Mackay, 2017: 434 (redescription).



Wheeler (1917) likely choose this name based on the type specimens being collected where the Uinta Mountains loomed on the eastern horizon. As stated in the original description: “Described from seventeen workers, one female and one male taken by Dr. R.V. Chamberlin at East Mill Creek, Salt Lake County, Utah.”


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Allred D. M. 1982. Ants of Utah. The Great Basin Naturalist 42: 415-511.
  • Allred, D.M. 1982. The ants of Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 42:415-511.
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1942. The ants of Utah. American Midland Naturalist 28: 358-388.
  • Cole, A.C. 1936. An annotated list of the ants of Idaho (Hymenoptera; Formicidae). Canadian Entomologist 68(2):34-39
  • Cover S. P., and R. A. Johnson. 20011. Checklist of Arizona Ants. Downloaded on January 7th at http://www.asu.edu/clas/sirgtools/AZants-2011%20updatev2.pdf
  • 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
  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at http://www.asu.edu/clas/sirgtools/resources.htm
  • Knowlton G. F. 1970. Ants of Curlew Valley. Proceedings of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters 47(1): 208-212.
  • La Rivers I. 1968. A first listing of the ants of Nevada. Biological Society of Nevada, Occasional Papers 17: 1-12.
  • Longino, J.T. 2010. Personal Communication. Longino Collection Database
  • Mackay, W.P. and E. Mackay. XXXX. The Ants of New Mexico
  • MontBlanc E. M., J. C. Chambers, and P. F. Brussard. 2007. Variation in ant populations with elevation, tree cover, and fire in a Pinyon-Juniper-dominated watershed. Western North American Naturalist 67(4): 469–491.
  • Ostoja S. M., E. W. Schupp, and K. Sivy. 2009. Ant assemblages in intact big sagebrush and converted cheatgrass-dominates habitats in Tooele County, Utah. Western North American Naturalist 69(2): 223–234.
  • Rees D. M., and A. W. Grundmann. 1940. A preliminary list of the ants of Utah. Bulletin of the University of Utah, 31(5): 1-12.
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1917. The mountain ants of western North America. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 52: 457-569.
  • Yensen, N.P., W.H. Clark and A. Francoeur. 1977. A checklist of Idaho Ants. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 53:181-187