Formica rubicunda

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Formica rubicunda
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. rubicunda
Binomial name
Formica rubicunda
Emery, 1893



Specimen Label

This species nests under stones and logs and may occasionally construct thatched nests or earthen mounds. Formica rubicunda enslaves Formica altipetens, Formica bradleyi, Formica fossaceps, Formica fusca, Formica lasioides, Formica lepida, Formica montana, Formica neoclara, Formica neogagates, Formica neorufibarbis, Formica obscuriventris, Formica pallidefulva and Formica subsericea. One mixed nest included Formica argentea, Formica aserva, Formica obtusopilosa Formica lasioides and a Myrmica species.

At a Glance • Slave-maker  


Photo Gallery

  • Foraging worker from Ashburnham, Massachusetts. Photo by Tom Murray.
  • Formica rubicunda and host Formica subsericea, eastern Missouri oak woodland. Photo by James Trager.


The apex of the petiole, as seen in profile, is sharp. The dorsum of the first tergum of the gaster has abundant hairs, slightly over 0.1 mm in length. The hairs are coarse and thick, but most are abruptly tapered to sharp tips. These hairs are slightly longer and more abundant than those on the pronotum, which tend to be more blunt tipped. The underside of the head usually has four hairs. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)

Keys including this Species


Widespread in North America.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada, 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) - Prairies and open woodlands up to pinyon-juniper and ponderosa pine and aspen forests.


This species is a member of a group of Formica species that were formerly placed in the subgenus Raptiformica. All species are facultative slavemakers, i.e., species which usually or often have slaves but can get along without them. The colony-founding female forces her way into a small colony of another species of Formica, somehow gets rid of its queen and workers and appropriates its nest and brood. The workers emerging from this brood accept the intruding queen as their own. The enslaved species belong to the Formica neogagates, fusca, and pallidefulva species groups. When the workers of the slave-making species have become numerous enough, they start raiding for more slaves.

Formica rubicunda is known to inslave the following species:




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

  • rubicunda. Formica sanguinea subsp. rubicunda Emery, 1893i: 647, pl. 22, fig. 2 (w.q.) U.S.A. Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 407 (m.). Combination in F. (Raptiformica): Emery, 1925b: 260. Raised to species: Creighton, 1950a: 468. Junior synonym of subintegra: Wilson & Brown, 1955: 120. Revived from synonymy: Buren, 1968a: 30.



  • Buren, W. F. 1968a. Some fundamental taxonomic problems in Formica (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Ga. Entomol. Soc. 3: 25-40 (page 30, Revived from synonymy)
  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 468, raised to species)
  • Emery, C. 1893k. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der nordamerikanischen Ameisenfauna. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 7: 633-682 (page 647, pl. 22, fig. 2 worker, queen described)
  • Emery, C. 1925d. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Formicinae. Genera Insectorum 183: 1-302 (page 260, Combination in F. (Raptiformica))
  • Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1913i. A revision of the ants of the genus Formica (Linné) Mayr. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 53: 379-565 (page 407, male described)
  • Wilson, E. O.; Brown, W. L., Jr. 1955. Revisionary notes on the sanguinea and neogagates groups of the ant genus Formica. Psyche (Camb.) 62: 108-129 (page 120, Junior synonym of subintegra)