This species nests in the soil, usually with a mound. Sometimes nests are located at the base of a plant or under stones or logs, or in stumps, often in sandy soils. Nests can be large, with a circumference over 9 meters in diameter, with over 125 entrances. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)
Usually a light yellowish brown with a gaster that is only slightly darker. Occasionally workers are red with a black gaster, or even nearly black, with yellowish-brown areas. The pilose lobes on the metasternum are not always well developed, but there are always at least a few golden erect hairs on the posterior edge. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)
Keys including this Species
- Key to Nearctic Formica fusca group males
- Key to Nearctic Formica fusca group queens
- Key to Nearctic Formica fusca group workers
Western North America from Yukon Territory, Canada south to northern Mexico.
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
Distribution based on AntMaps
Distribution based on AntWeb specimens
Check data from AntWeb
In New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) - Residential areas, grasslands (including arid grasslands) and open deciduous woods, oak forests, pinyon juniper into pine and fir forests.
Populous colonies common in grasslands, open woods, and especially in disturbed areas. The nest is usually exposed and surmounted by a low messy mass of excavated soil, which often covers a considerable area, e.g., 90-120 cm x 60-90 cm and always with many entrances. These ants have often been reported tending aphids. Abundant in some nests has been Uhleriola floralis (Uhler) (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae), a bug that resembles the ants (Wheeler and Wheeler, 1963:271).
For New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) - Brood was collected in June to August. Reproductives were found in nests in July and August, dealate females were collected in late June and July. This species may be polygynous, 3 dealate females were found in a single nest. Foragers are often found on cholla (Opuntia imbricata var. arborescens). Workers may be aggressive when a nest is disturbed, although they usually escape. This species is enslaved by Polyergus breviceps and nests with Camponotus modoc.
Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) - Our 17 records are from 12 localities which are widely scattered throughout the state; 3,900-9,800 ft. Three records are from the Cool Desert (1 from a disturbed riparian habitat and 2 from a cottonwood grove in an irrigated farmyard) and 4 were from the Coniferous Forest Biome. One exposed nest was surmounted by a 75-mm crater, 1 by piles of excavated earth along exposed cottonwood roots; 1 was in soil at base of a cottonwood stump; 2 were under stones; 1 was in and under a rotten log; 1 was under buried wood. We noted fast moving processions of workers up and down cottonwood trunks.
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.
- neoclara. Formica fusca var. neoclara Emery, 1893i: 661 (w.) U.S.A. Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 509 (q.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1953c: 165 (l.). Combination in F. (Serviformica): Emery, 1925b: 248. Subspecies of fusca: Buren, 1944a: 301. Raised to species and material of the unavailable name lutescens referred here: Creighton, 1950a: 535. Senior synonym of pruinosa: Francoeur, 1973: 84.
- pruinosa. Formica fusca subsp. pruinosa Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 548 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. Raised to species: Creighton, 1950a: 538. Junior synonym of neoclara: Francoeur, 1973: 84.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
- Buren, W. F. 1944a. A list of Iowa ants. Iowa State Coll. J. Sci. 18: 277-312 (page 301, Subspecies of fusca)
- Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 535, Raised to species, and material of the Unavailable name lutescens referred here)
- Emery, C. 1893k. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der nordamerikanischen Ameisenfauna. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. Geogr. Biol. Tiere 7: 633-682 (page 661, worker described)
- Emery, C. 1925d. Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Formicinae. Genera Insectorum 183: 1-302 (page 248, Combination in F. (Serviformica))
- Francoeur, A. 1973. Révision taxonomique des espèces néarctiques du groupe fusca, genre Formica (Formicidae, Hymenoptera). Mém. Soc. Entomol. Qué. 3: 1-316 (page 84, Senior synonym of pruinosa)
- Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
- Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1953c. The ant larvae of the subfamily Formicinae. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 46: 126-171 (page 165, larva described)
- Wheeler, G. C. and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles.
- Wheeler, W. M. 1913i. A revision of the ants of the genus Formica (Linné) Mayr. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 53: 379-565 (page 509, queen, male described)