Formica selysi

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Formica selysi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. selysi
Binomial name
Formica selysi
Bondroit, 1918

Formica selysi casent0906311 p 1 high.jpg

Formica selysi casent0906311 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels


This ant has been associated with the butterfly Glaucopsyche alexis (Obregon et al. 2015).


Seifert (2002) - A member of the Formica cinerea group. Formica selysi cannot be confused because of its extreme pilosity. In the worker, nest sample means of nHFEX range 7.0 - 44.0 while the upper extreme known in 125 samples of other species is 2.5. Similar is the situation in nHT. Gynes are as easily identified: individual values of nHFEX range 11 - 47 and those of nHT 5-22.

Keys including this Species


Seifert (2002) - The known geographic range of Formica selysi stretches from the Pyrenees (1.26 W) across S France to the Alps (11.51 E) and from the N. Apennine (44.20 N) to the Vosges (48.14 N). According to Petrov & Collingwood (1993), the easternmost site known is Gorizia (45.57 N, 13.37 E).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Albania, Austria, France (type locality), Germany, Iberian Peninsula, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Seifert (2002) - F. selysi is abundant in the southern half of France and the western Alps. Primary habitats are undoubtedly river banks. Artificial habitats such as stone or concrete constructions on river dams or along roads are also inhabited as well as pavement; and walls in the centre of cities (Brixen/ N. Italy, Hellrigl pers. comm.).

Concluded from observations in the Alps and northern Prealps, F. selysi is obviously better adapted to river sites with a higher velocity of flow and more frequent inundation than the competing Formica cinerea and Formica fuscocinerea (F. Bernard's name Formica torrentium suggests the same adaptation also in the Pyrenees). As result, F. selysi is more frequent on river banks with coarser material and it is often the eudominant ant species on isolated gravel islands within the river. In the Alps, F. selysi goes higher than F. fuscocinerea and F. cinerea, following the river banks up to 1780 m. Lude et al. (1996) and Lude etal. (1999) described adaptations of F. selysi to inundation and shifting of river bank material: 72 % of the nests survived inundations lasting for 9 - 43 hours and the ants could dig out through 10-20 cm of sand or gravel deposited on the nest entrances. If nest entrances were damaged, floating worker clusters with gynes and broods in the centre could be formed. After landing, the workers used their antennae and forelegs to save detached larvae or eggs from the water surface.



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

  • selysi. Formica cinerea var. selysi Bondroit, 1918: 54 (w.) FRANCE. Combination in F. (Serviformica): Emery, 1925b: 246. Raised to species: Kutter, 1977c: 253. Senior synonym of torrentium: Seifert, 2002b: 259.
  • torrentium. Formica torrentium Bernard, 1967: 300 (w.q.m.) FRANCE. [Bernard, 1967: 300, indicates that Bernard, 1960: 108 contains the original description of torrentium. The name is not mentioned in the 1960 publication.] Junior synonym of selysi: Seifert, 2002b: 259.

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



Seifert (2002) - Medium-sized, mean CS 1368. Head moderately elongated, CL/CW(1400) 1.127. Scape of average length, SL/CS(1400) 1.052. Clypeus with a median keel, finely microreticulate, its anteriormost portion finely longitudinally microcarinulate. Frontal triangle finely transversally microcarinulate and with 40 - 50 short pubescence hairs. Eyes with few scattered microsetae of 4-7 mm length. Dorsal plane of scape without setae. Most hairy species of the group. All surfaces of head, mesosoma, petiole, gaster, coxae and legs strongly setose. In contrast to all other species, extensor side of femora with semierect setae. Nest sample means of setae numbers: genae 2.5 - 26.3, occipital margin in dorsal aspect 27.5 - 67.0, gula 18.0 - 59.3, propodeum 17.8 - 54.5, extensor profile of both hind femora 7.0 - 44.0, flexor profile of both hind femora 28.0 - 60.0; extensor profile of hind tibiae 5.5 - 18.5. In anterior view, number of setae surpassing petiolar scale margin above spiracular level 15.5 - 51.3. Transition between dorsal and caudal profiles of propodeum broadly convex. Petiole scale narrower than in other species, its dorsal crest in frontal view convex; petiole scale in lateral aspect thicker than in other species, with convex anterior and rather straight or slightly convex posterior profile and a rather blunt apex. Head, mesosoma, petiole, and gaster covered by a dense, appressed, silvery pubescence, PDG 7.0. The pubescence hairs on gaster tergites thicker than usual, having 3 - 4 mm diameter, which produces at lower magnifications a silvery surface impression. Colour of cuticula more superimposed by the silvery pubescence than in other species and less varying than in Formica cinerea. A frequent colouration is: vertex, mesosoma, petiole and gaster dark brown, coxae, appendages, lateral and anterior head medium or lighter brown. Lighter morphs with increased reddish colour component locally occurring (France: Massive Central, Switzerland: Wallis).

Type Material

Seifert (2002) - France: Alpes Maritimes: Saint Etienne de Tinee [types investigated]. Eight worker syntypes labelled St. Etienne de Tinee Alp. mar. \ 1150 m \ Formica v. selysi type Bondr., Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.