Aphaenogaster festae

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Aphaenogaster festae
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Aphaenogaster
Species group: splendida
Species complex: festae
Species: A. festae
Binomial name
Aphaenogaster festae
Emery, 1915

Aphaenogaster festae casent0904169 p 1 high.jpg

Aphaenogaster festae casent0904169 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

In Greece, Aphaenogaster festae is a common ant. It nests in various habitats, mostly under stones in unshaded pine forests but has also been observed in suburban areas overgrown by macchia, ruderal areas in tourist resorts and in stream valleys with plane-tree or other deciduous forest stands. These ants are likely nocturnal, as workers have never been observed during the day. The Bulgarian record is the northernmost record in Europe of A. festae (Borowiec et al., 2019).

Most records come from open to shaded pine forests, but the species was also collected in stream valleys inside deciduous forests, suburban areas with maquis, ruderal areas around villages, and pastures with shrubs. Workers were active at dusk, spending the day hidden under stones, dry branches, or trunks of fallen trees. On cloudy days, foraging workers were found on the litter. Nests are always located under stones. This is a monogynous species. The highest number of workers observed in a nest did not exceed 80 individuals. Aphaenogaster festae reaches a high density of nests and is a dominant medium-sized ant in pine forests of the Aegean Islands and western Turkey (Salata et al., 2021).

Photo Gallery

  • Aphaenogaster festae with brood, Israel. Photo by Eran Schnecke, 11.1.2014.
  • Aphaenogaster festae with brood, Israel. Photo by Eran Schnecke, 11.1.2014.
  • Aphaenogaster festae with brood, Israel. Photo by Eran Schnecke, 11.1.2014.
  • Aphaenogaster festae with brood, Israel. Photo by Eran Schnecke, 11.1.2014.


A member of the Aphaenogaster splendida species group (sensu Schulz, 1994; Borowiec et al., 2019).

Salata et al. (2021) - Aphaenogaster festae, together with Aphaenogaster syriaca, Aphaenogaster schmitzi and Aphaenogaster transcaucasica, form a complex of species characterized by yellow to rusty-yellow coloration; moderately elongate legs with hind femora distinctly swollen in the middle and distinctly narrowing toward base and apex; moderately thin and elongate tibiae, distinctly widened from base to apex; and distinct body sculpture with head with relatively distinct reticulation. Aphaenogaster schmitzi and A. transcaucasica well differ in the anterior part of mesonotum not elevated or placed only slightly higher than pronotum, thus the promesonotal convexity forms a more or less regular arch. They differ also in shorter propodeal spines and less developed body sculpture, especially pronotal surface, because of its diffused microsculpture and lack of rugosities, appears more or less shiny. While A. festae has the whole pronotal surface usually distinctly microreticulate with lateral sides more or less rugose (pale colored northern population has rugosities indistinct or completely absent). Aphaenogaster syriaca, which appears to be the most similar to A. festae, differs in less elongated head, HL/HW: 1.270 (1.220–1.307) vs. HL/HW: 1.347 (1.313–1.390), slightly shorter antennal scape in relation to head width, SL/HW: 1.419 (1.340–1.469) vs. 1.541 (1.463–1.636), and propodeal spines placed less upwards than in A. festae. Additionally, both species are separated geographically. Aphaenogaster festae has a more western and northern distribution, from north-western Greece, Bulgaria, Aegean Islands to the Ni—de and Mersin Provinces in Turkey. Aphaenogaster syriaca has a more eastern and southern distribution ranging from Cyprus, Lebanon, and Israel to Adana Province in Turkey. It is possible that they are sympatric in southeastern Turkey, but limited material from this region prevents that assessment.

Keys including this Species


Known from Bulgaria, Greece (East Aegean Islands and Dodecanese) and western Turkey. A record from Iraq of this species requires confirmation (Borowiec, 2014; Borowiec et al., 2019).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 41.0935° to 36.73333°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Bulgaria, Greece (type locality), Iraq, Turkey.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Life History Traits

  • Queen number: monogynous (Salata et al., 2021)
  • Worker caste: present
  • Maximum colony size: 80 (Salata et al., 2021)
  • Compound colony type: free living



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • festae. Aphaenogaster splendida subsp. festae Emery, 1915h: 2 (w.) GREECE (Rhodes I.).
    • Menozzi, 1936d: 270 (q.).
    • Combination in Aphaenogaster (Attomyrma): Emery, 1921f: 60.
    • Subspecies of splendida: Emery, 1921f: 60; Menozzi, 1936d: 270; Hamann & Klemm, 1976: 670.
    • Status as species: Arnol'di, 1976b: 1024 (in key); Agosti & Collingwood, 1987a: 53; Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b: 270 (in key); Bolton, 1995b: 69; Petrov, 2006: 90 (in key); Legakis, 2011: 6; Borowiec, L. & Salata, 2012: 464; Kiran & Karaman, 2012: 16; Borowiec, L. 2014: 11; Lebas, et al. 2016: 264; Borowiec, L. & Salata, 2018: 3; Salata & Borowiec, 2018c: 42.

Type Material

Syntype worker: Aph. splendida | festae Emery | Rhodos || ANTWEB | CASENT | 0904169 (MSNG); photograph examined [AntWeb, CASENT0904169, photos by Zach Lieberman, available on https://www.AntWeb.org] (Salata et al., 2021).



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Borowiec L. 2014. Catalogue of ants of Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and adjacent regions (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Genus (Wroclaw) 25(1-2): 1-340.
  • Borowiec L., and S. Salata. 2012. Ants of Greece - Checklist, comments and new faunistic data (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Genus 23(4): 461-563.
  • Borowiec L., and S. Salata. 2018. Notes on ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Samos Island, Greece. Annals of the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom Entomology 27: 1-13.
  • Bracko G., K. Kiran, C. Karaman, S. Salata, and L. Borowiec. 2016. Survey of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Greek Thrace. Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e7945. doi: 10.3897/BDJ.4.e7945
  • Czechowski W., A. Radchenko, W. Czechowska and K. Vepsäläinen. 2012. The ants of Poland with reference to the myrmecofauna of Europe. Fauna Poloniae 4. Warsaw: Natura Optima Dux Foundation, 1-496 pp
  • Emery, C. "Escursioni zoologiche del Dr. Enrico Festa nell'Isola di Rodi. XII. Formiche." Bollettino del Museo di Zoologia ed Anatomia Comparatadella Reale Università di Torino 30 (1915): 1-7.
  • Hamann H. H. F., and W. Klemm. 1976. Ergebnisse der von Dr. O. Paget und Dr. E. Kritscher auf Rhodos durchgeführten zoologischen Exkursionen. XVI. Formicidae. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien 80: 669-679.
  • Kiran K., and C. Karaman. 2012. First annotated checklist of the ant fauna of Turkey (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 3548: 1-38.
  • Legakis Collection Database
  • Salata S., and L Borowiec. 2017. Species of Tetramorium semilaeve complex from Balkans and western Turkey, with description of two new species of (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). Annales Zoologici (Warsaw) 62:279–313.
  • Salata S., and L. Borowiec. 2018. Taxonomic and faunistic notes on Greek ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Annals of the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom Entomology 27: 1-51.