Formica gnava

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Formica gnava
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. gnava
Binomial name
Formica gnava
Buckley, 1866

Formica gnava casent0005365 profile 1.jpg

Formica gnava casent0005365 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

This ant nests under stones and in the soil without mounds. It feeds from extrafloral nectaries of the cholla (Opuntia spp), and forages into cotton wood trees. These ants can be very aggressive when the nest is disturbed, spraying formic acid at the intruder. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)


Bicolored with a dull surface.

Keys including this Species


Southerwestern United States and Chihuahua Mexico.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

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

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


In New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) - Semi-deserts and shady canyons up to oak forests and pinyon pine forests and rarely to fir forests.


This species is a host for the ant Polyergus topoffi (a slave maker).




The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • gnava. Formica gnava Buckley, 1866: 156 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. Combination in F. (Serviformica): Emery, 1925b: 250. Subspecies of fusca: Wheeler, W.M. 1902f: 20; of rufibarbis: Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 518; Creighton, 1950a: 539. Revived status as species: Francoeur, 1973: 238. Material of the nomen nudum subsericeoneorufibarbis (misspelled as subsericeorufibarbis by Emery, 1925b: 250) referred here by Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 518.

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


Francoeur 1973. Figures 425-440.


  • Buckley, S. B. 1866. Descriptions of new species of North American Formicidae. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Phila. 6: 152-172 (page 156, worker, queen, male described)
  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 539, Variety/subspecies of rufibarbis)
  • Emery, C. 1925d. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Formicinae. Genera Insectorum 183: 1-302 (page 250, Combination in F. (Serviformica))
  • Francoeur, A. 1973. Révision taxonomique des espèces néarctiques du groupe fusca, genre Formica (Formicidae, Hymenoptera). Mém. Soc. Entomol. Qué. 3: 1-316 (page 238, revived status as species)
  • Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1902g. A consideration of S. B. Buckley's "North American Formicidae.". Trans. Tex. Acad. Sci. 4: 17-31 (page 20, Variety/subspecies of fusca)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1913i. A revision of the ants of the genus Formica (Linné) Mayr. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 53: 379-565 (page 518, Variety/subspecies of rufibarbis, Material of the nomen nudum subsericeoneorufibarbis referred here.(misspelled as subsericeorufibarbis by Emery, 1925b: 250))