Formica argentea

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Formica argentea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. argentea
Binomial name
Formica argentea
Wheeler, W.M., 1912

Formica argentea casent0005361 profile 1.jpg

Formica argentea casent0005361 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

At a Glance • Polygynous  


The metasternal process of this species is poorly developed, but is often surrounded by abundant hair (exceptions common). The ventral surface of the head is without erect hairs. This species has a silvery sheen on the gaster, due to the abundance of pubescence, the remainder of the ant is usually brownish or even reddish or yellowish brown, with the gaster slightly darker, but may be concolorous black. Sometimes it is weakly bicolored. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)

Keys including this Species


Most of North America and into Mexcio (Chihuahua).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 54.46888889° to 20.98444°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada, United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico.

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.


For New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002): Nests are found under stones or logs, or under bark of pines. Brood was found in nests in July and August, sexuals in August. Multiple dealate females occur in nests (at least 3). Nests may have a small amount of thatching mixed with soil. They are generally relatively docile, and rapidly escape when the nest is disturbed. Flights occur in early July (sexuals are attracted to lights); a dealate female was collected in July. This species nests together with Lasius murphyi, as well as with Solenopsis molesta, Monomorium minimum, Lasius sitiens, Lasius pallitarsis, and Camponotus modoc.

Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) - This species is very adaptable and is distributed throughout the state. We have 109 records representing 100 localities. Twenty-three records are from the Cool Desert (l from Sarcobatus Subclimax, 1 from a cottonwood grove, 1 from riparian cottonwood grove, 2 from disturbed cottonwood groves, and 1 from a disturbed habitat), 26 are from the Pinyon-Juniper Biome, 30 from the Coniferous Forest Biome, 7 from the ecotone, and 4 from the Alpine Biome. Formica argentea is definitely a montane ant. While the elevational range is 4,400-11,500 ft., 95% of the records are above 6,000 ft. Most (43) nests were under stones, 5 were under wood lying on the ground, 13 were exposed (5 of these under earthen mounds and 8 with excavated soil in craters around the entrance). In a nest of this species we found Hetaerius tristriatus Horn (Coleoptera: Histeridae; det. J.M. Kingsolver), nr summit Sugarloaf Mt. 3 mi. SSE Montgomery Pass, Mineral Co., 9,000 ft. F. argentea was tending Aphis sp. nr penstemonicola G. &F. (Homoptera: Aphididae; det. M.B. Stoetzel), on squaw currant (Ribes cereum), Lehman Caves Nat. Mon., White Pine Co., 6,800 ft.v

This species is known to be enslaved by Formica aserva, Formica densiventris, Formica gynocrates, Formica rubicunda and Polyergus mexicanus. It is also the host for the temporary parasite Formica microgyna.

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is associated with the aphids Anuraphis subterranea, Aphis aiddletonii, Aphis asclepiadis, Aphis gossypii, Aphis lugentis, Aphis medicaginis, Aphis sambucifolii, Aphis ulmariae, Bipersona torticauda, Braggia eriogoni, Chaitophorus nigrae, Chaitophorus populicola, Chaitophorus populifolii, Chaitophorus viminalis, Cinara apini, Cinara ponderosae, Cryptomyzus ribis, Drepanaphis acerifoliae, Hyperomyzus lactucae, Lachnus glaber, Macrosiphum euphorbiae, Myzaphis rosarum, Myzocallis discolor, Myzus persicae, Periphyllus negundinis, Prociphilus fraxinifolii, Pterocomma smithiae, Rhopalosiphum nymphaeae, Uroleucon ambrosiae, Uroleucon erigeronense, Uroleucon solidaginis and Uroleucon taraxaci (Saddiqui et al., 2019 and included references).
  • This species is a prey for the Microdon fly Microdon lanceolatus (a predator) (Quevillon, 2018).
  • This species is a host for the fungus Laboulbenia formicarum (a pathogen) (Espadaler & Santamaria, 2012).
  • This species is a host for the fungus Laboulbenia formicarum (a parasite) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission within nest).

Flight Period

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

Source: Mackay & Mackay, 2002.

Life History Traits

  • Queen number: monogynous (Bennett, 1987; Frumhoff & Ward, 1992)



Mcz-ent00668527 Formica argentea hef.jpgMcz-ent00668527 Formica argentea hal.jpgMcz-ent00668527 Formica argentea had.jpgMcz-ent00668527 Formica argentea lbs.JPG
. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Images from AntWeb

Formica argentea casent0102159 head 1.jpgFormica argentea casent0102159 profile 1.jpgFormica argentea casent0102159 dorsal 1.jpgFormica argentea casent0102159 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0102159. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MSNG, Genoa, Italy.


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

  • argentata. Formica fusca var. argentata Wheeler, W.M. 1902e: 952 (footnote) (w.) U.S.A. [Junior primary homonym of argentata Fabricius, above.] Replacement name: argentea Wheeler, W.M. 1912c: 90.
  • argentea. Formica fusca var. argentea Wheeler, W.M. 1912c: 90. Replacement name for argentata Wheeler, W.M., above. [Junior primary homonym of argentata Fabricius, 1804: 413.] Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 502 (q.m.). Combination in F. (Serviformica): Emery, 1925b: 248. Subspecies of fusca: Buren, 1944a: 301. Junior synonym of fusca: Creighton, 1950a: 532. Revived from synonymy, raised to species and senior synonym of blanda: Francoeur, 1973: 141.
  • blanda. Formica fusca var. blanda Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 398 (in key) (w.) U.S.A. [Unresolved junior primary homonym of blanda Smith, F. 1858b: 43, above.] Subspecies of fusca: Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 548. Junior synonym of argentea: Francoeur, 1973: 141.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.


Francoeur 1973. Figures 233-248.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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