Polyergus lucidus

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Polyergus lucidus
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Polyergus
Species group: lucidus
Species: P. lucidus
Binomial name
Polyergus lucidus
Mayr, 1870



Specimen Label

Found from northeastern to midwestern North America, this species exclusively raids nests of Formica incerta.

At a Glance • Slave-maker  


Photo Gallery

  • After a week, plus, of cool, gray weather, Polyergus lucidus were eager to do some late season nest circling in today's sunshine. 19 September 2014, Eastern Missouri. Photo by James Trager.
  • Polyergus lucidus returning from a raid to acquire Formica incerta pupae. The browner individuals are F. incerta workers already living in the mixed nest of this socially parasitic ant. July 2010, eastern Missouri, USA. Photo by James Trager.


Trager (2013): Polyergus lucidus is most likely to be confused with the broadly sympatric Polyergus montivagus, from which it can be distinguished by shorter scapes, greater abundance of vertex and pronotal pilosity, and conspicuously greater shininess. Though I have not seen types, I follow Smith (1947) in the characterization of this species. Smith redescribed the species based on a worker at PMNH, with the same data and collector (Norton) as those described by Mayr.

Keys including this Species


Trager (2013): Polyergus lucidus is widely distributed from southern New England to Wisconsin, south to the mountain meadows and balds of the Carolinas and the tallgrass prairies of Missouri, matching most of the distribution of its unique host, Formica incerta (but not seen from Nebraska and Kansas).

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


This slave-making species enslaves Formica incerta.

Trager (2013): This species has been studied on Long Island, NY by Topoff and his students. Kwait and Topoff (1983, 1984) published on its raid organization and emigrations, reporting behavioral patterns familiar throughout the genus. At the same study site, Goodloe and Sanwald (1985) later studied host specificity in what I here report to be lucidus and sanwaldi with their distinct hosts, Formica incerta and Formica dolosa (reported as nitidiventris and schaufussi), respectively. These authors made the important finding that gynes arising from colonies with one of these hosts were not successfully adopted by the other host species, an early hint to me of their heterospecificity.


This species is a host for the fungus Laboulbenia formicarum (a pathogen) (Espadaler & Santamaria, 2012).




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

  • lucidus. Polyergus lucidus Mayr, 1870b: 952 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1968: 214 (l.); Wheeler, W.M. 1903f: 659 (gynandromorph). Subspecies of rufescens: Forel, 1886f: 200; Emery, 1893i: 666. Revived status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 214; Wheeler, W.M. 1917i: 465; Smith, M.R. 1947g: 152; Creighton, 1950a: 557. See also: Talbot, 1968: 299; Trager, 2013: 524.

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

Type Material

  • Syntype, worker, queen, male, near Farmington?, Connecticut, United States, Norton, (presumably at NMW, Trager (2013)).



Trager (2013) - (N=38) HL 1.40–1.76 (1.59), HW 1.38–1.76 (1.53), SL 1.19–1.36 (1.27), ½ VeM 5–12 (7.25), ½ PnM 0–6 (2.67), WL 2.32–2.86 (2.49), GL 2.00–2.68 (2.32), HFL 1.72–2.04 (1.89), CI 93–100 (96), SI 75–91 (84), HFI 114–131 (123), FSI 140–158 (148), LI 3.72–4.62 (4.08), TL 5.72–7.12 (6.40).

Head subrectangular to narrowly subtrapezoidal, HL greater than HW, and often widest about half way from eye to vertex (narrowing closer to eye in other lucidus group species); with conspicuous vertex pilosity of 10–16 macrosetae (rarely up to 24); scapes not reaching vertex corners by 1–2X maximum widths of scape, scape notably clavate in the apical third; pronotum with 1–8 (12) erect setae; mesonotal profile weakly convex; propodeal profile evenly rounded; petiole with convex sides; petiolar dorsum convex; first tergite lacking pubescence; first tergite pilosity sparse, straight, shorter than the distance separating the setae.

Head somewhat to very shiny; mesonotum shiny; gaster shiny.

Color red, often with infuscation of portions of legs and gastral tip.


Trager (2013) - Latin “lucidus” means shining, an appropriate name for Mayr’s species, the shiniest of all Polyergus.


  • Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 557, Revived status as species;, Senior synonym of montivagus)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 214, Revived status as species)
  • Espadaler, X., Santamaria, S. 2012. Ecto- and Endoparasitic Fungi on Ants from the Holarctic Region. Psyche Article ID 168478, 10 pages (doi:10.1155/2012/168478).
  • Forel, A. 1886h. Études myrmécologiques en 1886. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 30: 131-215 (page 200, Race of rufescens)
  • Mayr, G. 1870b. Neue Formiciden. Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 20: 939-996 (page 952, worker, queen, male described)
  • Smith, M. R. 1947g. A study of Polyergus in the United States, based on the workers (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Am. Midl. Nat. 38: 150-161 (page 152, Revived status as species)
  • Talbot, M. 1968 [1967]. Slave-raids of the ant Polyergus lucidus Mayr. Psyche (Camb.) 74: 299-313 (page 299, see also)
  • Trager, J.C. 2013. Global revision of the dulotic ant genus Polyergus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae, Formicinae, Formicini). Zootaxa 3722, 501–548.
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1968a. The ant larvae of the subfamily Formicinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): supplement. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 61: 205-222 (page 214, larva described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1903h. Some new gynandromorphous ants, with a review of the previously recorded cases. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 19: 653-683 (page 659, gynandromorph described)
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1917g. Jamaican ants collected by Prof. C. T. Brues. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 61: 457-471 (page 465, Revived status as species)