Formica japonica

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

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Specimen Labels


Mizuno et al. (2018) studied interactions between this ant and the myrmecophytic butterfly Lampides argyrognomon. In Korea this is the most common species within the Formica fusca group, being easy to see even in city areas (Dong & Kim, 2019).

At a Glance • Polygynous  


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Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: China, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Japan (type locality), Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Mizuno et al (2018) - Myrmecophilous lycaenid caterpillars have close relationships with their ant hosts by means of various myrmecophilous organs, most of which are usually lost after pupation. However, some lycaenid species, including Lycaeides argyrognomon, maintain such relationships at the pupal stage and go so far as to pupate in ant nests. This invokes the hypothesis that these myrmecophilous lycaenid pupae might have alternative tactics to retain myrmecophilous interactions without ant attacks. Camponotus japonicus, Formica japonica, and Lasius japonicus exhibited distinctive aggressive behaviors against ant cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) from different colonies of the same species but few attacks against the crude extract of L. argyrognomon pupae. GC-MS analysis revealed that the pupal cuticular lipids contain not only CHCs but also several long-chained aliphatic aldehydes, including 1-octacosanal and 1-triacontanal, which are absent from larval cuticular lipids. With the addition of synthesized 1-octacosanal and 1-triacontanal to ant CHCs from different colonies of the same species, the aggressive behavior decreased in C. japonicus, and the duration of physical contact shortened in C. japonicus and F. japonica. However, the behavior of L. japonicus remained unaffected after the addition of those aldehydes. These results suggest that the pupae-specific cuticular aldehydes of L. argyrognomon suppress ant aggression even after the loss of certain myrmecophilous organs, though the effects varied depending on the attending ant species. Since L. argyrognomon occasionally pupate in the nests of C. japonicus in the field, the lycaenids might be better adapted to associations with C. japonicus than with the other two ant species studied.

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




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

  • japonica. Formica japonica Motschoulsky, 1866: 183 (w.) JAPAN. Imai, 1966: 119 (k.). Combination in F. (Serviformica): Emery, 1925b: 247. Subspecies of fusca: Emery, 1909b: 197; Emery, 1923: 62; Wheeler, W.M. 1929f: 10; Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, 1929a: 19; Stitz, 1934: 9. Revived status as species: Dlussky, 1967a: 78; Collingwood, 1976: 305; Wu, 1990: 5; Kupyanskaya, 1990: 185. Senior synonym of nipponensis: Emery, 1909b: 197; Karavaiev, 1927b: 111; Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, 1929a: 19.
  • nipponensis. Formica fusca var. nipponensis Forel, 1900e: 270 (w.) JAPAN. Forel, 1901h: 66 (q.). Subspecies of fusca: Ruzsky, 1925b: 44. Junior synonym of japonica: Emery, 1909b: 197; Karavaiev, 1927b: 111; Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, 1929a: 19.



  • n = 27, 2n = 54 (Japan) (Imai & Yosida, 1964; Imai, 1966; Imai, 1969; Crozier, 1975).


  • Collingwood, C. A. 1976a. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from North Korea. Ann. Hist.-Nat. Mus. Natl. Hung. 68: 295-309 (page 305, Revived status as species)
  • Dlussky, G. M. 1967a. Ants of the genus Formica (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, g. Formica). Moskva: Nauka Publishing House, 236 pp. (page 78, Revived status as species)
  • Dong, M.-S., Kim, S.-K. 2019. Morphological comparison of the male genitalia of Formica fusca group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Korea (doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.20086.34887).
  • Emery, C. 1909b. Beiträge zur Monographie der Formiciden des paläarktischen Faunengebietes. (Hym.) Teil VII. Dtsch. Entomol. Z. 1909: 179-204 (page 197, Variety/subspecies of fusca, Senior synonym of nipponensis)
  • Emery, C. 1923a. Einige exotische Ameisen des Deutschen Entomologischen Institutes. Entomol. Mitt. 12: 60-62 (page 62, Variety /subspecies of fusca)
  • Emery, C. 1925d. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Formicinae. Genera Insectorum 183: 1-302 (page 247, Combination in F. (Serviformica))
  • Imai, H. T. 1966b. The chromosome observation techniques of ants and the chromosomes of Formicinae and Myrmicinae. Acta Hymenopterol. 2: 119-131 (page 119, karyotype described)
  • Karavaiev, V. 1927c [1926]. Myrmekologische Miszellen. Ezheg. Zool. Muz. 27: 104-112 (page 111, Senior synonym of nipponensis)
  • Kupyanskaya, A. N. 1990a. Ants of the Far Eastern USSR. Vladivostok: Akademiya Nauk SSSR, 258 pp. (page 185, Revived status as species)
  • Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, N. N. 1929a. Die Ameisen des Süd-Ussuri-Gebietes. Zool. Anz. 83: 16-34 (page 19, Variety /subspecies of fusca, Senior synonym of nipponensis)
  • Mizuno, T., Y. Hagiwara, and T. Akino. 2018. Chemical tactic of facultative myrmecophilous lycaenid pupa to suppress ant aggression. Chemoecology. 28:173-182. doi:10.1007/s00049-018-0270-8
  • Motschoulsky, V. de. 1866. Catalogue des insectes reçus du Japon. Bull. Soc. Imp. Nat. Mosc. 39: 163-200 (page 183, worker described)
  • Stitz, H. 1934. Schwedisch-chinesische wissenschaftliche Expedition nach den nordwestlichen Provinzen Chinas, unter Leitung von Dr. Sven Hedin und Prof. Sü Ping-chang. Insekten gesammelt vom schwedischen Arzt der Expedition Dr. David Hummel 1927-1930. 25 (page 9, Variety /subspecies of fusca)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1929g. Some ants from China and Manchuria. Am. Mus. Novit. 361: 1-11 (page 10, Variety /subspecies of fusca)
  • Wu, J. 1990. Taxonomic studies on the genus Formica L. of China (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). For. Res. 3: 1-8 (page 5, Revived status as species)