Formica oreas

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Formica oreas
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species group: rufa
Species: F. oreas
Binomial name
Formica oreas
Wheeler, W.M., 1903

Formica oreas casent0005390 profile 1.jpg

Formica oreas casent0005390 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


This ant nests under stones or logs, usually covered with detritus or thatching, in areas of fine sand to rocky loam. Occasionally this species constructs mounds solely of thatching. Brood was found in nests in March and August, reproductives occurred in nests June to August. Workers are very aggressive when the nest is disturbed.


The scape is more or less evenly covered with erect hairs, whereas other species have erect hairs only at the tip, with possibly a few others scattered on the scape. It can be separated from others with many erect hairs on the scapes as it has short dense hairs covering the gaster and the gaster is brownish black instead of black. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)

Keys including this Species


Canada, Alberta. United States: Montana, Idaho and south to New Mexico.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 53.991° to 32.92563°.

Tropical South

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

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


In New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) - Open woods or meadows up to pine and aspen forests.


In North Dakota, Sather (1972) found that most colonies formed an integrated cluster of nests, i.e., were polycalic. Workers visited freely between nests and often transferred brood.

Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) - Our 16 records represent 12 localities and are widely scattered north of the Hot Desert; 6,200-9,000 ft. Five records were from the Cool Desert and 4 were from the Coniferous Forest Biome. Extensive use was made of thatch in the nest but more eccentrically (both literally and figuratively) than by either Formica obscuripes or Formica obscuriventris. We have described 5 nests as "typical thatch," i.e., either circular or elliptical domes. Two of the nests were polycalic (i.e., had small accessory thatch mounds in the vicinity). One typical dome had decaying wood buried in the thatch. Three nests were under stones, with a small amount of thatch on or beside the stone. One colony had its thatch scattered along a prostrate living trunk of sagebrush. The workers of one colony of F. oreas were tending Obtusicauda artemisicola (Williams) (Homoptera: Aphididae; del. D. Hille Ris Lambers) on sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) 8 mi. NW Jarbidge (Elko Co.) 6,200 ft. Workers were also tending Obtusicauda nara sp. (Homoptera: Aphididae) on lodgepole pine (Pinus murrayana) in Little Valley (Washoe Co.) 6,400 ft.

Association with Other Organisms

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Mcz-ent00520054-Formica-oreas-oreas-hef.jpgMcz-ent00520054-Formica-oreas-oreas-hal.jpgMcz-ent00520054-Formica-oreas-oreas-had.jpgMcz-ent00520054 Formica oreas oreas lbs.jpg
Worker. . Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.
MCZ-ENT00304483 Formica oreas syntype head.jpgMCZ-ENT00304483 Formica oreas syntype side.jpgMCZ-ENT00304483 Formica oreas syntype top.jpgMCZ-ENT00304483 Formica oreas syntype labels.JPG
Syntype of Formica oreasWorker. . Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.
MCZ-ENT00022717 Formica oreas comptula syntype head.jpgMCZ-ENT00022717 Formica oreas comptula syntype side.jpgMCZ-ENT00022717 Formica oreas comptula syntype labels.jpg
Syntype of Formica oreas comptulaWorker. . Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.


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

  • oreas. Formica oreas Wheeler, W.M. 1903e: 643, fig. 2 (w.q.m.) U.S.A.
    • Status as species: Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 458 (redescription); Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 541; Cole, 1942: 379; Creighton, 1950a: 494; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 867; Cole, 1954c: 165; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1461; Allred, 1982: 473; Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1986g: 84; Bolton, 1995b: 200; Mackay & Mackay, 2002: 362.
    • Senior synonym of comptula: Shattuck & Cover, 2016: 17.
  • comptula. Formica oreas var. comptula Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 460 (w.q.) U.S.A.
    • Subspecies of oreas: Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 541; Cole, 1942: 380; Creighton, 1950a: 494; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 867; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1461; Bolton, 1995b: 193; Mackay & Mackay, 2002: 363.
    • Junior synonym of oreas: Shattuck & Cover, 2016: 17.

Type Material



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Allred D. M. 1982. Ants of Utah. The Great Basin Naturalist 42: 415-511.
  • Allred, D.M. 1982. The ants of Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 42:415-511.
  • Bestelmeyer B. T., and J. A. Wiens. 2001. Local and regional-scale responses of ant diversity to a semiarid biome transition. Ecography 24: 381-392.
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1942. The ants of Utah. American Midland Naturalist 28: 358-388.
  • Cole, A.C. 1936. An annotated list of the ants of Idaho (Hymenoptera; Formicidae). Canadian Entomologist 68(2):34-39
  • Glasier J. R. N., S. E. Nielsen, J. Acorn, and J. Pinzon. 2019. Boreal sand hills are areas of high diversity for Boreal ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Diversity 11, 22; doi:10.3390/d11020022.
  • Glasier J. R. N., S. Nielsen, J. H. Acorn, L. H. Borysenko, and T. Radtke. 2016. A checklist of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Saskatchewan. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 130(1): 40-48.
  • Gregg, R.T. 1963. The Ants of Colorado.
  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Lavigne R., and T. J. Tepedino. 1976. Checklist of the insects in Wyoming. I. Hymenoptera. Agric. Exp. Sta., Univ. Wyoming Res. J. 106: 24-26.
  • Longino, J.T. 2010. Personal Communication. Longino Collection Database
  • Mackay W. P., and E. E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 400 pp.
  • Rees D. M., and A. W. Grundmann. 1940. A preliminary list of the ants of Utah. Bulletin of the University of Utah, 31(5): 1-12.
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1987. A Checklist of the Ants of South Dakota. Prairie Nat. 19(3): 199-208.
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1978. Mountain ants of Nevada. Great Basin Naturalist 35(4):379-396
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1988. A checklist of the ants of Montana. Psyche 95:101-114
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1988. A checklist of the ants of Wyoming. Insecta Mundi 2(3&4):230-239
  • Wheeler, G.C., J. Wheeler, T.D. Galloway and G.L. Ayre. 1989. A list of the ants of Manitoba. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Manitoba 45:34-49