Formica comata

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Formica comata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species group: rufa
Species: F. comata
Binomial name
Formica comata
Wheeler, W.M., 1909



Specimen Label

This is a very aggressive ant species with large colony size in the Formica rufa group. It builds low mounds of earth and grass covered by a thin layer of thatch. Found in the southwest, this ant forages for a variety of insect prey.

Photo Gallery

  • Worker defending the nest. Photo by Gary D. Alpert.
  • Worker foraging. Photo by Gary D. Alpert.
  • Worker on nest mound in late October. Photo by Gary D. Alpert.
  • Nest Mound: Soil and grass covered with thin layer of thatch. Photo by Gary D. Alpert.
  • Habitat: Flagstaff Arboretum, Arizona. Photo by Gary D. Alpert.


Head, excluding the mandibles as broad as long. Mandibles 8-toothed. Mandibles finely and densely striate. Clypeus carinate, with broadly rounded anterior border. Erect hairs absent on the antennal scapes. Erect hairs present on the flexor surface of the femora and tibiae.

This ant species is closely allied with Formica ciliata.

Mackay and Mackay (2002) - The workers of this species can be recognized by the numerous short, erect hairs on the underside of the head (Fig. 402), and by the abundant, short, bristly hairs on the dorsum of the gaster (Fig. 404). The dorsum of the gaster is covered with a dense layer of fine, appressed, silver hairs.

Keys including this Species


United States. Arizona and New Mexico.

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


Grasslands, Ponderosa pine forest, sagebrush.


Sexuals were found in nests in July.

There is no published account of the biology of this species. Refer to species in the rufa group for general biology. Nests are active from early summer until late October near Flagstaff, Arizona. Foragers are often found on vegetation and appear to be omnivorous in their diet.






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

  • comata. Formica comata Wheeler, W.M. 1909e: 85 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. See also: Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 454.



  • Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1909e. A decade of North American Formicidae. J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 17: 77-90 (page 85, worker, queen, male described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1913i. A revision of the ants of the genus Formica (Linné) Mayr. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 53: 379-565 (page 454, 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.
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1942. The ants of Utah. American Midland Naturalist 28: 358-388.
  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • 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.P. and E. Mackay. XXXX. The Ants of New Mexico
  • 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.
  • Trager J. Distributions of Nearctic Formica rufa group species. Personal communication 05 February 2014.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1913. A revision of the ants of the genus Formica (Linné) Mayr. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 53: 379-565.