Formica subintegra

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Formica subintegra
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. subintegra
Binomial name
Formica subintegra
Wheeler, W.M., 1908

Formica subintegra casent0104771 profile 1.jpg

Formica subintegra casent0104771 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Formica subintegra is an obligate slave-maker of species within the Formica fusca group. They are not active outside the nest except during slave-raids and foraging is undertaken entirely by their slaves, which make up 70-90% of the colony (Apple, Lewandowski & Levine, 2014).

At a Glance • Dulotic  



Keys including this Species


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


The general biology and raiding behavior of Formica subintegra have been studied by Wheeler (1910a) and by Talbot and Kennedy (1940). The latter investigators, by keeping a chronicle over many summers of a population on Gibraltar Island, in Lake Erie, were able to show that raiding is much more frequent in subintegra than in Formica sanguinea. Some colonies raided almost daily for weeks at a time, striking out in any one of several directions on a given day. Occasionally the forays continued on into the night, in which case the subintegra workers remained in the looted nest overnight and returned home the next morning. In other details the raiding behavior resembled that of sanguinea. Subsequently, Regnier and Wilson (1971) discovered that each subintegra worker possesses a grotesquely hypertrophied Dufour's gland, which contains approximately 700 µg of a mixture of decyl, dodecyl, and tetradecyl acetates. These substances are sprayed at the defending colonies during the slave raids. They act at least in part as “propaganda substances” because they evaporate slowly and help to alarm and to disperse the defending workers.

Savolainen & Deslippe (2001): The obligate slave-making ant Formica subintegra is not activate outside its nest until July and August, when slave raids begin. A comparative behavioral study of seasonal and daily activities, retrieval of prey, and nest maintenance of this species, the obligate slavemaker Polyergus mexicanus (as Polyergus breviceps), and the facultative Formica aserva (as Formica subnuda), shows that the behavioral repertory of F. subintegra closely resembles that of P. mexicanus and clearly differs from the repertory of F. aserva. Unlike P. mexicanus, F. subintegra has retained some nest-building activity which, owing to the lack of competence, does not contribute to nest maintenance. We suggested earlier that F. subintegra is probably an obligate slavemaker, because it always has a large proportion of slaves within its nest, whereas F. aserva fares well even without slaves. This, coupled with no foraging in early summer and a raiding period later on, strongly suggests that F. subintegra is an obligate slave-making ant.

Association with Other Organisms

Hosts for this slave-maker include Formica pallidefulva (Mackay & Mackay, 2002) and Formica podzolica (Savolainen & Deslippe, 2001).


This species is a host for the fungus Laboulbenia formicarum (a pathogen) (Espadaler & Santamaria, 2012).



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

  • subintegra. Formica sanguinea subsp. subintegra Wheeler, W.M. 1908f: 627 (w.q.) U.S.A. [First available use of Formica sanguinea subsp. rubicunda var. subintegra Emery, 1893i: 648, pl. 22, fig. 3; unavailable name.] Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 411 (m.); Hung, 1969: 456 (k.). Combination in F. (Raptiformica): Emery, 1925b: 260. Subspecies of sanguinea: Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 410. Raised to species and material of the unavailable name gilvescens referred here: Creighton, 1950a: 470. See also: Talbot & Kennedy, 1940: 560.



  • n = 26 (USA) (Hung, 1969).