Formica perpilosa

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Formica perpilosa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. perpilosa
Binomial name
Formica perpilosa
Wheeler, W.M., 1913

Formica perpilosa casent0005383 profile 1.jpg

Formica perpilosa casent0005383 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Nests are found in the soil, with the entrance surrounded by a small mound. It also nests at the base of desert plants, especially grass clumps, in areas of fine sand to loam. It occasionally nests under stones or pieces of wood.


Formicia-perpilosa tcdc.jpg

The clypeus is usually concave or notched and it is an abundantly hairy, black (gaster) and red (head and mesosoma) ant. Most surfaces are moderately shining, including the gaster. It is difficult to place this species in a species complex, and it is presently considered to be a member of the neogagates group, but it doesn’t seem to be closely related to the others in the complex. It was previously considered to be a member of the sanguinea group, based on the notched clypeus. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)


Canada, Alberta. United States: Wyoming south to Texas, west to California. Mexico: Chihuahua, Coahuila.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 49.14° to 25.441562°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada, United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico.

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.


In New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) - Chihuahuan Desert (mesquite woodlands, playas), especially common in loose sand, up to foothill meadows and low elevation forests (pinyon-juniper) (below 1850 meters), riparian (cottonwoods, sycamore forests). It is abundant in urban environments.


It is preeminently a species peculiar to irrigated lands and river bottoms in the deserts of the southwest. There it nests in rather populous colonies about the roots of bushes or trees, often forming obscure craters or low mound nests ... I have never found it nesting under stones. It is a very active and aggressive ant (W.M. Wheeler, 1913).

For New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) - This is one of the few species of Formica, which occurs in the Chihuahuan Desert, especially in sandy soils. It is also common in lawns in urban environments. Reproductives were found in nests in July, flights occurred in July, dealate females were found during July. Workers forage on the flowers of Yucca elata. This species apparently does not enslave other species of Formica. It is the host of the cricket Myrmecophila sp. It may be an important predator of the boll weevil. This species shows division of labor, and the workers undertake 38 different behavioral acts.

Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) – F. perpilosa presents a seeming paradox in Nevada: it has been found only within the boundaries of the Hot Desert, but it cannot be classed as a Hot Desert ant, because it occurs only near streams and other well-watered places. It is our only truly riparian species. Our 16 records are from 8 localities, all in the southern part of the state. We ourselves have found it only once: in Beatty, in a gravel sidewalk beside a hedge which bordered a tree-filled lawn. The low messy crater was 40 cm in diameter, with numerous entrances 6-12 mm in diameter. The workers moved swiftly. Elasmosoma vigilans Ckll. (Hymenoptera: Braconidae; det. P.M. Marsh) was collected at Las Vegas by D.F. Zoller, who noted that the wasps were darting at the ants. This braconid is known to be an ant parasitoid.

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is a host for the ant Formica gynocrates (a slave maker) (S. Cover, MCZbase).
  • This species is a host for the braconid wasp Elasmosoma vigilans (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).



Mcz-ent00668707 Formica perpilosa hef.jpgMcz-ent00668707 Formica perpilosa hal.jpgMcz-ent00668707 Formica perpilosa had.jpgMcz-ent00668707 Formica perpilosa lbs.JPG
Worker. . Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Images from AntWeb

Formica perpilosa casent0102799 head 1.jpgFormica perpilosa casent0102799 profile 1.jpgFormica perpilosa casent0102799 dorsal 1.jpgFormica perpilosa casent0102799 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0102799. Photographer Jen Fogarty, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.


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

  • perpilosa. Formica perpilosa Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 421 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. [First available use of Formica fusca subsp. subpolita var. perpilosa Wheeler, W.M. 1902b: 141; unavailable name.] Combination in F. (Raptiformica): Emery, 1925b: 259.



References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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  • Allred, D.M. 1982. The ants of Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 42:415-511.
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  • Cokendolpher J. C., and O. F. Francke. 1990. The ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of western Texas. Part II. Subfamilies Ecitoninae, Ponerinae, Pseudomyrmecinae, Dolichoderinae, and Formicinae. Special Publications, the Museum. Texas Tech University 30:1-76.
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1954. Studies of New Mexico ants. XI. The genus Formica with a description of a new species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 29: 163-167.
  • Cover S. P., and R. A. Johnson. 20011. Checklist of Arizona Ants. Downloaded on January 7th at
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  • Francoeur A., and R. R. Snelling. 1979. Notes for a revision of the ant genus Formica. 2. Reidentifications for some specimens from the T. W. Cook collection and new distribution data (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Contr. Sci. (Los Angel.) 309: 1-7.
  • 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
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  • Longino, J.T. 2010. Personal Communication. Longino Collection Database
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  • McDonald D. L., D. R. Hoffpauir, and J. L. Cook. 2016. Survey yields seven new Texas county records and documents further spread of Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren. Southwestern Entomologist, 41(4): 913-920.
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  • Talbot M. 1934. Distribution of ant species in the Chicago region with reference to ecological factors and physiological toleration. Ecology 15(4): 416-439.
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  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133
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  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1902. Formica fusca Linn. subsp. subpolita Mayr, var. perpilosa, n. var. Memorias y Revista de la Sociedad Científica "Antonio Alzate". 17: 141-142.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1913. A revision of the ants of the genus Formica (Linné) Mayr. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 53: 379-565.
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1985. A checklist of Texas ants. Prairie Naturalist 17:49-64.
  • Whitford W. G. 1978. Structure and seasonal activity of Chihuahua desert ant communities. Insectes Sociaux 25(1): 79-88.
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  • Young, J. and D.E. Howell. 1964. Ants of Oklahoma. Miscellaneous Publications of Oklahoma State University MP-71