Formica pratensis

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Formica pratensis
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. pratensis
Binomial name
Formica pratensis
Retzius, 1783

Formica pratensis casent0010647 profile 1.jpg

Formica pratensis casent0010647 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Subspecies
Synonyms

Collingwood (1979) - This is the black backed meadow ant characteristic of rough alpine pastures but also common on woodland borders and scrubby heathland throughout lowland Europe and South Fennoscandia. Colonies are isolated single nests with one or very few queens. Jensen (1977) gives population estimates for this species in Denmark of up to 60,000 workers. Nests are smaller than with Formica rufa and other species of this group and nest materials are coarser. A polygynous form with many grouped nests, occurs locally in Germany and the Netherlands, often in shaded woodland, but has not been recorded from Denmark or Fennoscandia. Brood development begins later in the spring with sexuals normally appearing in July.

Identification

Bicoloured with gaster, occiput and frons matt black, not shining; gaster more or less thickly pubescent. Black patch on promesonotum variable but in typical specimens clearly demarcated. Eyes thickly haired; occiput with short to medium length fringing hairs, sometimes reduced to very few. Antennal scapes without protruding hairs. Femora and tibiae fringed with hairs on extensor surfaces. Length; 4.5-9.5mm (Collingwood 1979).

Keys including this Species

Distribution

Portugal to Siberia. Central Italy to Central Sweden and the Russian Federation.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Channel Islands, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Iberian Peninsula, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Distribution based on AntMaps

AntMapLegend.png

Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Biology

Nest photo provided by A. Buschinger.

Novgorodova (2105) showed that workers actively attacked adult insects that are predators of aphids, regardless of their prior experience tending trophobionts. This is an expected result of the ants use of aphids as an important source of honeydew.

Foraging/Diet

Formica pratensis collect honeydew.

Novgorodova (2015b) investigated ant-aphid interactions of a dozen honeydew collecting ant species in Western Siberia pine and aspen-birch-pine forests (54°7´N, 83°06´E, 200 m, Novosibirsk) and mixed-grass-cereal steppes with aspen-birch groves (53°44´N, 78°02´E, 110 m, near Karasuk) in the Novosibirsk Region and coniferous forests in the northeastern Altai (north end of Lake Teletskoe, 51°48´N, 87°17´E, 434 m). All of the ants studied had workers that showed high fidelity to attending particular aphid colonies, i.e, individual ants tend to return to the same location, and group of aphids, every time they leave the nest. F. pratensis' honeydew collecting activities also showed some other specialization. During the summer months when the aphids and ants were most active, individual foragers tended to specialize on collecting honeydew or guarding, i.e. protecting aphids from competitors. During cooler months when aphids were still active foragers showed no specialization. F. pratensis tended: Symydobius oblongus (Heyden) and Chaitophorus populeti (Panzer) and Aphis jacobaeae Schrank.

Associations with other Organisms

Other Insects

  • This species is a host for the ant Formicoxenus nitidulus (a xenobiont) (Holldobler & Wilson 1990; Busch 2001; Martin et al. 2007).
  • This species is a host for the eulophid wasp Melittobia acasta (a parasite) (Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).
  • This species is a host for the beetle Monotoma angusticollis (Coleopotera: Monotomidae) (a myrmecophile) in Europe (Wagner et al., 2020).
  • This ant has been associated with the butterfly Glaucopsyche alexis (Obregon et al. 2015).

Fungi

This taxon is a host for the fungi Ophiocordyceps myrmecophila (Shrestha et al., 2017) and Aegeritella superficialis (Espadaler & Santamaria, 2012).

Life History Traits

  • Queen number: monogynous (Pamilo, 1987; Frumhoff & Ward, 1992)
  • Queen type: winged (pamilo, 1987; Frumhoff & Ward, 1992) (queenless worker reproduction)
  • Mean colony size: 60,000 (Jensen, 1977; Beckers et al., 1989) (1 nest examined)
  • Nest site: thatch mound
  • Foraging behaviour: trunk trail (Jensen, 1977; Beckers et al., 1989)

Castes

Worker

Queen

Nomenclature

The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • pratensis. Formica pratensis Retzius, 1783: 75 (w.) no locality given. Forel, 1874: 52 (q.m.). Subspecies of rufa: Forel, 1874: 52; Forel, 1892i: 307; Ruzsky, 1905b: 337; Emery, 1909b: 186; Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 428; Forel, 1915d: 57; Emery, 1916b: 256; Emery, 1925b: 254; Ruzsky, 1925b: 43; Karavaiev, 1929b: 217; Stitz, 1939: 341; Gösswald, 1941: 81; Holgersen, 1942: 13. Status as species: André, 1882b: 184; Nasonov, 1889: 17; Ruzsky, 1902d: 10; Bondroit, 1912: 352; Donisthorpe, 1915d: 267; Bondroit, 1917a: 174; Müller, 1923: 142; Ruzsky, 1926: 110; Novak & Sadil, 1941: 105; Boven, 1947: 188; Yarrow, 1955a: 4; Kutter, 1965: 140; Dlussky, 1967a: 84; Dlussky & Pisarski, 1971: 177; Tarbinsky, 1976: 194; Kutter, 1977c: 272; Collingwood, 1979: 152; Gösswald, 1989: 19; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 272; Seifert, 1992a: 225. Senior synonym of nigricans (and its junior synonyms cordieri, pratensoides, thyssei): Dlussky, 1967a: 84; Kutter, 1977c: 272; Seifert, 1992a: 225; of ciliata: Dlussky & Pisarski, 1971: 177; Seifert, 1992a: 225; of grouvellei: Seifert, 1996a: 200. Current subspecies: nominal plus nuda, staerckei.
  • pratensoides. Formica minor subsp. pratensoides Gösswald, 1951: 436 (w.q.m.) GERMANY. Junior synonym of nigricans: Yarrow, 1955a: 4. [Revived from synonymy: Gösswald, 1989: 20; returned to synonymy: Bolton, 1995b: 201.]
  • nigricans. Formica pratensis var. nigricans Bondroit, 1912: 352 (w.) SPAIN. [First available use of Formica rufa subsp. pratensis var. nigricans Emery, 1909b: 187; unavailable name.] Subspecies of pratensis: Novak & Sadil, 1941: 105; Boven, 1947: 189. Raised to species: Yarrow, 1955a: 4. Status as species: Betrem, 1960b: 77; Bernard, 1967: 314; Baroni Urbani, 1971c: 220; Paraschivescu, 1972: 534; Collingwood, 1979: 153. Senior synonym of pratensoides, thyssei: Yarrow, 1955a: 4; of cordieri: Betrem, 1962: 38; Kutter, 1965: 140. Junior synonym of pratensis: Dlussky, 1967a: 84; Dlussky & Pisarski, 1971: 177; Kutter, 1977c: 272; Seifert, 1992a: 225.
  • cordieri. Formica pratensis var. cordieri Bondroit, 1917a: 174 (diagnosis in key) (q.) FRANCE. Raised to species: Betrem, 1960b: 77. Junior synonym of nigricans: Betrem, 1962: 38; Kutter, 1965: 140.
  • grouvellei. Formica rufa var. grouvellei Bondroit, 1918: 60 (q.) FRANCE. Junior synonym of pratensis: Seifert, 1996a: 200.
  • ciliata. Formica pratensis var. ciliata Ruzsky, 1926: 110 (w.q.) RUSSIA. [First available use of Formica rufa subsp. pratensis var. ciliata Ruzsky, 1915b: 7; unavailable name.] [Unresolved junior primary homonym of ciliata Mayr, above.] Junior synonym of pratensis: Dlussky & Pisarski, 1971: 177.

Description

Karyotype

  • n = 26, 2n = 52 (Finland; Switzerland) (Hauschteck-Jungen & Jungen, 1976; Rosengren et al., 1980).

References

  • Aksoy, V., Camlitepe, Y. 2018. Effects of genetic relatedness, spatial distance, and context on intraspecific aggression in the red wood ant Formica pratensis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Turkish Journal of Zoology 42: 297-306 (DOI 10.3906/zoo-1708-17).
  • André, E. 1882c. Les fourmis. [part]. Pp. 153-232 in: André, Edm. 1881-1886. Species des Hyménoptères d'Europe et d'Algérie. Tome Deuxième. Beaune: Edmond André, 919 + 48 pp. (page 184, status as species)
  • Atanassov, N.; Dlussky, G. M. 1992. Fauna of Bulgaria. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Fauna Bûlg. 22: 1-310 (page 272, status as species)
  • Beckers R., Goss, S., Deneubourg, J.L., Pasteels, J.M. 1989. Colony size, communication and ant foraging Strategy. Psyche 96: 239-256 (doi:10.1155/1989/94279).
  • Bolton, B. 1995b. A new general catalogue of the ants of the world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 504 pp. (page 201, catalogue)
  • Bondroit, J. 1912. Fourmis de Hautes-Fagnes. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 56: 351-352 (page 352, status as species)
  • Bondroit, J. 1917a. Notes sur quelques Formicidae de France (Hym.). Bull. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 1917: 174-177 (page 174, status as species)
  • Boven, J. K. A. van. 1947b. Liste de détermination des principales espèces de fourmis belges (Hymenoptera Formicidae). Bull. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 83: 163-190 (page 188, status as species)
  • Collingwood, C. A. 1979. The Formicidae (Hymenoptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark. Fauna Entomol. Scand. 8: 1-174 (page 152, status as species)
  • Dlussky, G. M. 1967a. Ants of the genus Formica (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, g. Formica). Moskva: Nauka Publishing House, 236 pp. (page 84, status as species, senior synonym of nigricans (and its junior synonyms cordieri, pratensoides and thyssei))
  • Dlussky, G. M.; Pisarski, B. 1971. Rewizja polskich gatunków mrówek (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) z rodzaju Formica L. Fragm. Faun. (Warsaw) 16: 145-224 (page 177, status as species, senior synonym of ciliata)
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1915f. British ants, their life-history and classification. Plymouth: Brendon & Son Ltd., xv + 379 pp. (page 267, status as species)
  • Emery, C. 1909b. Beiträge zur Monographie der Formiciden des paläarktischen Faunengebietes. (Hym.) Teil VII. Dtsch. Entomol. Z. 1909: 179-204 (page 186, subspecies of rufa)
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  • Forel, A. 1915d. Fauna insectorum helvetiae. Hymenoptera. Formicidae. Die Ameisen der Schweiz. Mitt. Schweiz. Entomol. Ges. 12(B Beilage: 1-77 (page 57, subspecies of rufa)
  • Goropashnaya, Anna V.; Fedorov, Vadim B.; Pamilo, Pekka 2004. Recent speciation in the Formica rufa group ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae): inference from mitochondrial DNA phylogeny. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32(1): 198-206 (mtDNA sequence data)
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  • Holgersen, H. 1942b. Ants of northern Norway (Hym., Form.). Tromso Mus. Årsh. 63(2 2: 1-34 (page 13, subspecies of rufa)
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References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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