Formica paralugubris

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Formica paralugubris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. paralugubris
Binomial name
Formica paralugubris
Seifert, 1996

Formica paralugubris focol0762 p 1 high.jpg

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Specimen Labels

A mountain wood ant that is a sister species to Formica lugubris.

At a Glance • Supercolonies  • Invasive  


A sibling species of Formica lugubris, these two species can be separated using queen pilosity characters and morphometrics (tables and discriminant functions to separate these two species and Formica aquilonia are provided by Seifert 1996).

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 47.12° to 42.164167°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada.
Palaearctic Region: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Germany, Iberian Peninsula, Spain, Switzerland (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.


Siefert (1996), in his description of this cryptic species provides rational for why this ant is distinct from its sibling species. This also suggests why our understanding of its biology, while studied, is entangled with studies of Formica lugubris.

During the last 18 years, a lot of biological investigations were performed on big polycalic colonies of Formica lugubris in the Swiss Jura mountains (e.g. Gris and Cherix 1977, Cherix and Rosengren 1979, Rosengren and Cherix 1980, Rosengren and Cherix 1981, Cherix 1983, Passera et al 1990, Cherix et al 1991, Cherix et al 1993, Walter et al., 1993). Extensive studies on allozyme variation (Pamilo et al 1992) gave clear evidence that there were two genetically distinct, sympatric species in the Swiss Jura mountains, where these species occur even syntopically. A clear exchange of genetic material between the two forms named 'type A' and 'type B' could not be demonstrated. In fact they behave like different species and show a clear preference for non-nestmate pupae of their own genetic type in a behavioural choice test (Rosengren et al 1994).

Balzani et al. (2022) investigated whether the presence of the introduced red wood ant F. paralugubris in a Southern Europe montane forest affects the frequency of nests of the native ant species. Two areas were identified: one where F. paralugubris was present and one where the species was absent. Both areas presented the same environmental conditions (i.e. same altitude, habitat, vegetation type, exposition), thus excluding other potential confounding factors and representing an ideal site for such an investigation. Ant nests were only found in the area non-occupied by F. paralugubris. The introduced red wood ant F. paralugubris was found to exclude other ants from the area they occupy. This is in line with previous findings on other red wood ant species (Johansson & Gibb, 2016; Robinson et al., 2016) and another introduced population of this species (Frizzi et al. 2018).

Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec



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

  • paralugubris. Formica paralugubris Seifert, 1996a: 199, figs. 4, 5 (w.q.) SWITZERLAND.

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



Figure 4 - Microsculpture and pubescence on dorsal plane of first gaster tergite in Formica paralugubris. Scale bar = 100 mm.
Figure 5 - Typical pilosity condition on the ventrolateral propodeum in the queen of Formica paralugubris showing short, straight and thick setae. Scale bar = 100 mm. Figure 6 - Typical pilosity condition on the ventrolateral propodeum in the queen of Formica lugubris with very long, curved and fine hairs. Scale bar = 100 mm.

Whole surface of head (except of genae), mesosoma, gaster, coxae, femora, and tibiae with numerous erect setae which are on average shorter than in Formica lugubris. Dorsal plane of scape frequently with several short and semierect hairs. Eyes with numerous erect hairs the longest of which measure 22-40 mm. Frons of head less matt than Formica pratensis, comparable to situation in Formica rufa. Scape shorter and thicker than in F. pratensis: the ratio scape length/maximum midpoint scape diameter is <9.60. Median area of clypeus, frons and back of head, antennae, coxae, femora, tibiae and gaster more or less blackish. Dorsum of promesonotum with a dark patch, which is less well defined than in pratensis. Remaining parts of head and mesosoma yellowish red. For morphometric data and distinction from F. lugubris see tables 1 and 2.


Occipital margin of head with 20-75 erect setae, which are normally 40-80 11m long. Dorsal plane of scape frequently with a number of shorter, semierect setae. Eyes with numerous erect hairs of 22--45 11m length. Standing setae on pronotum, mesonotum, scutellum, lateral mesopleuron, ventrolateral propodeum, lateral metapleuron, hind tibia, and frontal face of gaster definitely shorter than in lugubris. In contrast to this situation, the standing setae on the whole surface of all gaster sternites are very long (250-350 11m). Clypeus more shining than dorsum of head and genae. Mesonotum and scutellum mildly shining, but less than in rufa. Dorsum of gaster shining. Dorsum of first gaster tergite with very fine transversal microsculpture and closely set microfoveae of 9-13 mm diameter and 15-30 mm midpoint distance. The microfoveae are the basis for the pubescence hairs (Fig. 4). Median area of clypeus, frontal and occipital parts of head, upper pronotum, mesonotum, scutellum, gaster, and tibiae usually blackish. Genae, underside of head, coxae, femora, lower pronotum, lateral sclerites of mesosoma, and petiole yellowish red. For morphometric data and differences to lugubris and aquilonia see Tab. 3.

Type Material

Nest No. G5 near the Chalet a Roch field station, 5 km SSW Le Brassus in the Swiss Jura mountains. Holotype (a queen) and 10 paratypes (4 queens and 6 workers). The workers were collected on 5 May 1993 and the queens in June 1994. The labelling is "CH: Jura, 5.5. 1993, Chalet a Roch, nest G5" in the workers and "CH: Jura, 6. 1994, Chalet a Roch, nest G5" in case of queens. Another 24 worker paratypes originate from the nests G 1-G4, which belong to the same polycalic nest system as the holotype nest and were collected on 5 May 1993.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • AntArea. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Antarea (Personal Communication - Rumsais Blatrix- 27 April 2018)
  • Antarea (at on June 11th 2017)
  • Bernasconi C., A. Maeder, A. Freitag and D. Cherix. 2006. Formica paralugubris (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Italian Alps from new data and old data revisited. Myrmecologische Nachrichten. 8: 251-256
  • Borowiec L. 2014. Catalogue of ants of Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and adjacent regions (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Genus (Wroclaw) 25(1-2): 1-340.
  • Casevitz-Weulersse J., and C. Galkowski. 2009. Liste actualisee des Fourmis de France (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Bull. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 114: 475-510.
  • Espadaler, X., X. Roig, and K. Gómez. "Cuatro nuevas citas de hormigas (Hymenopera, Formicidae) y actualización del listado para Cataluña (Península Ibérica)." Boletín de la Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa 40 (2007): 313-316.
  • Glaser F. 2009. Die Ameisen des Fürstentums Liechtenstein. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Amtlicher Lehrmittelverlag, Vaduz, 2009 (Naturkundliche Forschung im Fürstentum Liechtenstein; Bd. 26).
  • Holzer, B., J. Meunier, L. Keller and M. Chapuisat. 2008. Stay or drift? Queen acceptance in the ant Formica paralugubris. Insectes Sociaux 55(4):392-396.
  • Seifert B. 1996. Formica paralugubris nov. spec. - a sympatric sibling species of Formica lugubris from the western Alps (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicoidea: Formicidae). Reichenbachia 31: 193-201.
  • Steiner F. M., S. Schödl, and B. C. Schlick-Steiner. 2002. Liste der Ameisen Österreichs (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), Stand Oktober 2002. Beiträge zur Entomofaunistik 3: 17-25.
  • Wegnez P., and F. Mourey. 2016. Formica uralensis Ruzsky, 1895 une espèce encore présente en France mais pour combien de temps ? (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bulletin de la Société royale belge d’Entomologie 152: 72-80.