Formica subnitens

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Formica subnitens
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species group: rufa
Species: F. subnitens
Binomial name
Formica subnitens
Creighton, 1940

Formica subnitens casent0005394 profile 1.jpg

Formica subnitens casent0005394 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

This species nests in thatched mounds, occasionally under stones or logs, usually with some surrounding thatch. They are occasionally found in earthen domes (Cole 1954, Mackay and Mackay 2002)


The middle and hind tibiae of this species have erect hairs in two rows (usually fewer than ten hairs in both rows combined), but do not have erect hairs scattered over the remainder of the surface. The erect hairs extend over nearly the entire length of the tibia. The gaster has few erect hairs on the first tergum (fewer than 10, excluding those along posterior edge of tergum). This latter characteristic separates it from the closely related Formica ravida which has more than 10 hairs on the same surface. The clypeus, cheeks and malar area are often shiny. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)

Keys including this Species


Western North America.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada, United States (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


In New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) - Grasslands to pinyon cedar forests, willows, and cedars.


Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) - This species seems to make little use of thatch. The mounds were usually of soil and detritus. F. subnitens is widely scattered in the northern half of the state; 4,600-10,500 ft. We have 9 records from 9 localities, 2 of which were in the Cool Desert and 2 in the Coniferous Forest Biome. Three nests were described: (1) a dome 48 cm in diameter composed of soil and gravel with only a little plant debris; (2) under many stones; (3) messy pile of thatch 28 by 53 cm piled against a stone.

Nest site selected in open areas devoid of cover. Nest begun under stone or by excavation in the soil. Little or no use made of thatching. The finished nest without any superstructure or with a thin disc of thatching spread around the opening (Creighton, 1940).

Association with Other Organisms

This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Orasema coloradensis (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (associate).



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

  • subnitens. Formica rufa subsp. subnitens Creighton, 1940a: 10, fig. 1 (w.) U.S.A. Miller, 1957: 255 (q.m.). Subspecies of integroides: Creighton, 1950a: 490. Raised to species: Cole, 1955b: 50; Miller, 1957: 253; Mackay, Lowrie, et al. 1988: 111 (in key).



  • Cole, A. C., Jr. 1955b. Studies of New Mexico ants. XV. Additions, corrections, and new synonymy. J. Tenn. Acad. Sci. 30: 49-50 (page 50, raised to species)
  • Creighton, W. S. 1940a. A revision of the North American variants of the ant Formica rufa. Am. Mus. Novit. 1055: 1-10 PDF (page 10, fig. 1 worker described)
  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 490, subspecies of integroides)
  • MacKay, W. P.; Lowrie, D.; Fisher, A.; MacKay, E. E.; Barnes, F.; Lowrie, D. 1988. The ants of Los Alamos County, New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pp. 79-131 in: Trager, J. C. (ed.) Advances in myrmecology. Leiden: E. J. Brill, xxvii + 551 pp. (page 111, raised to species)
  • Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
  • Miller, C. D. F. 1957. Taxonomic status of Formica subnitens Creighton and F. integroides Emery, with a description of the sexuals of F. subnitens (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Soc. 4: 253-257 (page 255, queen, male described, page 253, raised to species)
  • Wheeler, G. C. and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles.