Formica ciliata

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Formica ciliata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species group: rufa
Species: F. ciliata
Binomial name
Formica ciliata
Mayr, 1886

Formica ciliata casent0104876 profile 1.jpg

Formica ciliata casent0104876 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

This species has nests thatched with pinyon pine needles and juniper needles, and also nests under logs and stones. The mound may completely lack thatching, and be covered with pebbles. The mound is small and is not much higher than the surrounding soil surface. They are usually found on south facing slopes. This species appears to be polydomous, with individual colonies located 4 - 5 meters apart, although in one instance, 2 adjacent nests were fighting. Brood was found in nests in August, reproductives occurred in nests in July and August, dealate females were collected loose in August. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)


Mackay and Mackay (2002) - The workers of this species have few erect hairs, which are mostly restricted to the clypeus, pronotum, propodeum and gaster. The scapes are without erect hairs (except at the apex), each tibia has only a few (fewer than 10) erect hairs on the flexor surfaces. The gaster is covered with short, erect hairs, in which the tips are closer than the length of the hairs. The females of this species are unusual as they are covered with long, curled, yellow hairs, which suggests that it is a temporary social parasite (these types of hairs are typical of parasitic species).

Keys including this Species


United States: Montana east to Minnesota, south to Nevada, Utah and New Mexico.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 47.26° to 33.74°.

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.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


For New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002): Sagebrush, grasslands, disturbed areas (nuclear waste site), pinyon-juniper woodland, deciduous forests, up to ponderosa pine.


Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) - Our Nevada material is represented by a single collection: Kingston Ranger Sta. in Toiyabe Ra., Lander Co., 7,100 ft.; in the Cool Desert. The thatch consisted mostly of chips of bark; it was 1 m in diameter and located at the base of a dead sagebrush.

This species is a xenobiont for the ant Formicoxenus hirticornis (a xenobiont).



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

  • ciliata. Formica ciliata Mayr, 1886d: 428 (q.) U.S.A. Wheeler, W.M. 1903e: 640 (w.m.). See also: Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 452.



  • Borowiec, M.L., Cover, S.P., Rabeling, C. 2021. The evolution of social parasitism in Formica ants revealed by a global phylogeny. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118, e2026029118 (doi:10.1073/pnas.2026029118).
  • Dlussky, G. M.; Pisarski, B. 1971. Rewizja polskich gatunków mrówek (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) z rodzaju Formica L. Fragmenta Faunistica 16: 145-224 (page 177, Junior synonym of pratensis)
  • Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
  • Mayr, G. 1886d. Die Formiciden der Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 36: 419-464 (page 428, queen described)
  • Ruzsky, M. 1926. A systematic list of the ants found in Siberia. I. Review of the species of the genera Camponotus (s. ext.) and Formica (s. str.). Izv. Tomsk. Gos. Univ. 77: 107-111 (page 110, worker, queen described)
  • Seifert, B. 1992a. Formica nigricans Emery, 1909 - an ecomorph of Formica pratensis Retzius, 1783 (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Entomol. Fenn. 2: 217-226 (page 225, junior synonym of pratensis)
  • Wheeler, G. C. and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1903g. Extraordinary females in three species of Formica, with remarks on mutation in the Formicidae. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 19: 639-651 (page 640, worker, male described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1913i. A revision of the ants of the genus Formica (Linné) Mayr. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 53: 379-565 (page 452, see also)

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.
  • Gregg, R.T. 1963. The Ants of Colorado.
  • MacKay W. P. 1993. Succession of ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on low-level nuclear waste sites in northern New Mexico. Sociobiology 23: 1-11.
  • Mackay W. P., and E. E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 400 pp.
  • Mackay, W., D. Lowrie, A. Fisher, E. Mackay, F. Barnes and D. Lowrie. 1988. The ants of Los Alamos County, New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). pages 79-131 in J.C. Trager, editor, Advances in Myrmecololgy.
  • Trager J. Distributions of Nearctic Formica rufa group species. Personal communication 05 February 2014.
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1987. A Checklist of the Ants of South Dakota. Prairie Nat. 19(3): 199-208.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1903. Extraordinary females in three species of Formica, with remarks on mutation in the Formicidae. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 19: 639-651.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1917. The mountain ants of western North America. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 52: 457-569.
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1988. A checklist of the ants of Montana. Psyche 95:101-114