Formica clara

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Formica clara
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. clara
Binomial name
Formica clara
Forel, 1886

Formica lusatica casent0173858 profile 1.jpg

Formica lusatica casent0173858 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Although this species is widely distributed (from Europe and Anatolia to the Near East), it is limited to xerothermous grasslands at relatively low altitudes (Borowiec and Salata 2018, Seifert 2018, Lapeva-Gjonova & Borowiec, 2022). Nests are often rather populous, monogynous to weakly polygynous, with aggressive workers which are, at least in the northern range, notably larger than those of Formica cunicularia and Formica rufibarbis. Larger nests defend their territories. Resistance against social parasites is certainly stronger than in F. cunicularia (Seifert 1997, 2007; Czechowski & Radchenko 2006); however, it is the main host of the slave-maker Polyergus rufescens (Trager, 2013; Seifert, 2018; de la Mora et al., 2021) in Central Asia where F. cunicularia and F. rufibarbis are rare or absent. Alates occur in Central Europe 14 July ± 16 d [29 June, 20 July], n = 14 (Seifert & Schultz, 2009). Pashaei Rad et al. (2018) found this species in Iran on parkland ground in a moderate rainfall area.


Seifert and Schultz (2009) - A member of the Formica rufibarbis group. The distinction from the similar species Formica cunicularia and Formica clara sinae can be determined with a discrimination analysis.

The extreme colour differences and some morphometric deviation between the Syrian type series of F. clara and the northern F. lusatica population has suggested hetero-specificity in a time when the geographic variation of both taxa over their whole Palaearctic range has been poorly known (Seifert 1997). This situation has changed now – 200 nest samples from Eurasia with recording of the complete character set and 62 samples with incomplete character set became available during the last years. Considering all sixteen structural characters and two pigmentation characters, a principal component analysis gave no suggestion on a possible grouping according to geography. The assumed differences between northern and southern populations most probably represent intraspecific clinal variation. Indeed there are detectable some highly significant geographic trends: CS and CL / CW1.4 increase with growing geographical latitude while GHL / CS1.4 falls (all regressions with p < 0.0001).

Keys including this Species


Seifert and Schultz (2009) - Shows the widest geographical range among all species of the F. rufibarbis group. Inhabits the temperate, submeridional and meridional zones of the Palaearctic, occurs between 2° and 88° E (as opposed to 120° E in F. clara sinae) and 31° and 61°N (in Finland). Having a planar to colline distribution in the northern parts of its European range, but climbing up to 3500 m at 31° N in the Himalayas.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 60.913° to 10.48388889°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Oriental Region: India, Pakistan.
Palaearctic Region: Afghanistan, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation (type locality), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, Türkiye, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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.


Borowiec and Salata (2022) - Thermophilous species, noted from dry hills, mountain pastures at side of coniferous forests, roadsides in pine forests, gorges with luminous deciduous forests, olive plantations and in salines. Often observed in grasslands, gardens and parks in towns and tourist resorts. Most records are from low altitude but on the sunny slopes of the mountains can reach a height of 1590 m.


Nests in soil or under stones.

Seifert and Schultz (2009) - Primarily a species of the dry steppes. Most thermophilic of the European species of the F. rufibarbis group (Seifert 1997, 2007) and in Central Europe the rarest of these species, with only regional occurrence in warm regions below 700 m, occurring here mainly on very xerothermic sandy and limestone grasslands, also on ruderal grassland, generally preferring open land with patchy herb layer. In sandy areas of the Lausitz (Germany) outcompeting F. rufibarbis. In the southern parts of the range also in more moist places, city parks and semi-shaded woodland.

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is a xenobiont for the ant Formicoxenus sibiricus (a xenobiont) (Seifert, 2023).
  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Cinara confinis (a trophobiont) in Pakistan (Gull-E-Fareen et al., 2020).
  • This species is a mutualist for the aphid Cinara orientalis (a trophobiont) in Pakistan (Gull-E-Fareen et al., 2020).

Flight Period

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

Source: Seifert & Schultz, 2009;



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

  • clara. Formica rufibarbis var. clara Forel, 1886f: 206 (w.) RUSSIA. Ruzsky, 1902b: 471 (q.m.). Combination in F. (Serviformica): Emery, 1925b: 250. Subspecies of rufibarbis: Forel, 1901h: 65. Raised to species: Collingwood, 1961a: 68; Dlussky, 1967a: 77. Material of the unavailable names transversa, clara referred here by Dlussky, 1967a: 77. Senior synonym of rizadaghi: Dlussky, Soyunov & Zabelin, 1990: 139; of caucasica, lusatica: Seifert & Schultz, 2009: 263. See also: Czechowski, Radchenko, et al. 2012: 220. Current subspecies: nominal plus sinae.
  • caucasica. Formica rufibarbis var. caucasica Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 517 (w.) CAUCASUS. [First available use of Formica rufibarbis subsp. clara var. caucasica Ruzsky, 1905b: 401; unavailable name.] Subspecies of rufibarbis: Stitz, 1930: 238. Junior synonym of glauca: Dlussky, 1967a: 74; of clara: Seifert & Schultz, 2009: 263..
  • rizadaghi. Formica (Serviformica) rizadaghi Arnol'di, 1968: 1819, figs. 19, 20 (w.q.) TURKMENIA. Junior synonym of clara: Dlussky, Soyunov & Zabelin, 1990: 139.
  • lusatica. Formica lusatica Seifert, 1997b: 13, figs. 2, 6 (w.) GERMANY. Czechowski & Radchenko, 2006: 260 (m.). Junior synonym of clara: Seifert & Schultz, 2009: 263.

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



Seifert and Schultz (2009) - Longer (CL / CW1.4 1.138), distance of lateral ocelli moderate (OceD / CS1.4 0.162); eye smaller than in F. cunicularia (EYE / CS1.4 0.290), petiole wide (PEW / CS1.4 0.467). Scape rather long (SL / CS1.4 1.080). Clypeus with sharp median keel and fine longitudinal microcarinulae. Frontal triangle finely transversely rippled and with 35 - 55 short pubescence hairs. Eyes with microsetae of 10 - 15 μm maximum length. Total mean of unilateral setae numbers on different body parts predicted for a specimen with CS = 1.4 mm: pronotum 3.2 (W-population: 3.6, E-population: 2.2), mesonotum 1.4 (W: 1.7, E: 0.8), petiole dorsal of spiracle 0.8 (W: 0.9, E: 0.6), flexor profile of hind tibia 0.6. Posterior margin and underside of head and dorsolateral metapleuron as a rule without setae. Ventral coxae with long setae. Dorsum of gaster normally with rather long setae, rarely these are missing. Dorsal mesonotal profile broadly rounded. Metanotal depression in larger individuals relatively deep. Propodeal dome in profile rectangular to round, the basal part sometimes rather linear to concave, whole propodeum flatter in smaller specimens. Dorsal crest of petiole in frontal view normally broadly convex, in smaller specimens sometimes bluntly angled, in larger specimens occasionally with weakly excavate median portion. Petiole scale in lateral aspect rather thin, with convex anterior and more straight posterior profile. Gaster with transverse microripples of small average distance (RipD 4.4 μm) and covered by dense silvery pubescence (sqPDG 3.1). Pubescence on head, mesosoma and petiole dense. Typical size-dependent variation of colour pattern in the northern population (F. lusatica): smaller specimens: area between frontal carinae, posterior vertex, dorsal promesonotum, coxae, and all appendages dark brown, all other body parts light reddish; large specimens: whole dorsal head more or less reddish, whole mesosoma and petiole light reddish, but coxae remaining dark brown; gaster in all size-classes dark brown. Colouration in the southern population (F. clara) on average significantly lighter, with predominance of yellowish reddish pigmentation, though specimens with the whole body being more or less dark brown may occur. The type series of F. clara represents a colour extreme: all body parts pale yellowish red with exception of antennal funiculus and a patch on dorsocaudal head where brown colour components are added and the gaster which is light brown with a yellowish tinge or even yellowish red (reminiscent of Formica truncorum).

Borowiec and Salata (2022) - Large with strongly marked size-variation, HL: 1.198-1.820 (mean 1.499); HW: 0.968-1.429 (mean 1.196); SL: 1.238-1.780 (mean 1.504); EL: 0.405-0.516 (mean 0.466); ML: 1.80-2.62; MW: 0.75-1.15. Color. Head bicolor, clypeus, genae, sides behind eyes and ventral side yellowish red, rest of surface brown to black, yellowish red of anterior part of head gradually turn into the dark posterior part of head without sharp border between pale and dark parts; mesosoma usually uniformly yellowish red to red, occasionally promesonotum at top with obscure spot with diffused borders but reddish always predominate, petiolar scale usually yellowish red to red, occasionally with obscure upper margin, in rare melanistic forms whole mesosoma and petiolar scale brown then head always bicolored with pale anterior part and dark frons and occipital part of head brown, gaster brown to dark brown with transparent white posterior margin of tergites, antennae yellowish, sometimes apical 3-4 antennomeres gradually infuscate, coxa yellowish to yellowish brown, femora from uniformly yellowish or yellowish red to reddish brown only in melanistic forms brown, tibiae and tarsi yellow or in melanistic forms reddish brown to brown. Head. 1.2-1.3 times longer than wide, in front of eyes softly converging anterad, behind eyes softly rounded, occipital margin straight to slightly convex. Clypeus with median keel, on the whole surface distinctly microsculptured, slightly trapezoidal, its anterior margin convex, sides convergent posterad, posterior margin truncate or shallowly concave in the middle, whole clypeal surface with moderately long and moderately dense appressed pubescence, a row of 10-12 long setae close at the anterior margin and usually 8 long erected setae arranged in three rows 4-2-2, sometimes with additional very short, 2-3 erected setae, the longest anterior seta with length 0.143. Head distinctly microreticulate, appears dull and opaque, with short and sparse appressed pubescence not covering head surface, interocular and ocellar area usually with a pair of moderately long, erected yellow setae, sometimes ocellar area with 1-3 additional short erected setae, occasionally frons without setae, ventral side of head lacking erected setae. Scape moderately long, 1.2-1.3 times longer than width of head, thin, distinctly reaching beyond the occipital margin, distinctly, regularly widened from base to apex, its surface microreticulate, with short and dense appressed pubescence, erected setae absent. Funicular segments elongate, thin, first segment 1.4 times as long as second segment, the second segment approximately twice as long as wide, only slightly shorter than third segment, the rest of funicular segments clearly longer than broad. Eyes big, elongate oval, approximately 0.31 length of head. Mesosoma. Elongate in dorsal view distinctly constricted in the middle, 2.2-2.4 times as long as wide, dorsally and laterally distinctly microreticulated, surface indistinctly dull and opaque. In lateral view promesonotum convex, mesonotal groove moderately deep, propodeum strongly, regularly convex. Whole mesosomal surface covered with long and moderately dense appressed pubescence not covering the mesosomal surface, pronotum rarely without, usually with 6-15 very short erected setae, the longest with length 0.079, mesonotum without or with 1-4 short erected setae, propodeum lacking erected setae. Waist and gaster. Petiolar scale broad, moderately thick in lateral view, apex rounded without setae. Gaster shorter than mesosoma, all tergites distinctly microreticulate, appears dull and opaque, covered with moderately long and dense appressed pubescence almost completely covering surface of tergites. All tergites close to posterior margin with a row of setae, surface of tergites with short, sparse erected setae. Legs. Ventral surface of fore femora with row of 4-5 erected setae, of mid femora lacking erected setae or at most with two setae close to trochanter.

Type Material

Seifert and Schultz (2009) - F. clara: 9 syntype workers labelled “F. rufibarbis v. clara Forel, Damas (Lortet)”; Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève.


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