This species nests in thatched mounds, occasionally under stones or logs, usually with some surrounding thatch. They are occasionally found in earthen domes (Cole 1954, Mackay and Mackay 2002)
The middle and hind tibiae of this species have erect hairs in two rows (usually fewer than ten hairs in both rows combined), but do not have erect hairs scattered over the remainder of the surface. The erect hairs extend over nearly the entire length of the tibia. The gaster has few erect hairs on the first tergum (fewer than 10, excluding those along posterior edge of tergum). This latter characteristic separates it from the closely related Formica ravida which has more than 10 hairs on the same surface. The clypeus, cheeks and malar area are often shiny. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)
Keys including this Species
Western North America.
Latitudinal Distribution Pattern
Latitudinal Range: 50.874° to 32.333972°.
- Source: AntMaps
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
Distribution based on AntMaps
Distribution based on AntWeb specimens
Check data from AntWeb
|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.|
|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.|
In New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) - Grasslands to pinyon cedar forests, willows, and cedars.
Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) - This species seems to make little use of thatch. The mounds were usually of soil and detritus. F. subnitens is widely scattered in the northern half of the state; 4,600-10,500 ft. We have 9 records from 9 localities, 2 of which were in the Cool Desert and 2 in the Coniferous Forest Biome. Three nests were described: (1) a dome 48 cm in diameter composed of soil and gravel with only a little plant debris; (2) under many stones; (3) messy pile of thatch 28 by 53 cm piled against a stone.
Nest site selected in open areas devoid of cover. Nest begun under stone or by excavation in the soil. Little or no use made of thatching. The finished nest without any superstructure or with a thin disc of thatching spread around the opening (Creighton, 1940).
Association with Other Organisms
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This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Orasema coloradensis (a parasite) (Wheeler, 1907; Johnson et al., 1986; Baker et al., 2019; Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (questionable, needs confirmation).
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.
- subnitens. Formica rufa subsp. subnitens Creighton, 1940a: 10, fig. 1 (w.) U.S.A. Miller, 1957: 255 (q.m.). Subspecies of integroides: Creighton, 1950a: 490. Raised to species: Cole, 1955b: 50; Miller, 1957: 253; Mackay, Lowrie, et al. 1988: 111 (in key).
- Baker, A.J., Heraty, J.M., Mottern, J., Hang, J.Z., Hines, H.M., Lemmon, A.R., Lemmon, E.M. 2019. Inverse dispersal patterns in a group of ant parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Eucharitidae: Oraseminae) and their ant hosts. Systematic Entomology 45: 1–19 (doi:10.1111/syen.12371).
- Borowiec, M.L., Cover, S.P., Rabeling, C. 2021. The evolution of social parasitism in Formica ants revealed by a global phylogeny. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118, e2026029118 (doi:10.1073/pnas.2026029118).
- Cole, A. C., Jr. 1955b. Studies of New Mexico ants. XV. Additions, corrections, and new synonymy. J. Tenn. Acad. Sci. 30: 49-50 (page 50, raised to species)
- Creighton, W. S. 1940a. A revision of the North American variants of the ant Formica rufa. American Museum Novitates 1055: 1-10. (page 10, fig. 1 worker described)
- Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 104: 1-585 (page 490, subspecies of integroides)
- Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
- Mackay, W. P.; Lowrie, D.; Fisher, A.; Mackay, E. E.; Barnes, F.; Lowrie, D. 1988. The ants of Los Alamos County, New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pp. 79-131 in: Trager, J. C. (ed.) Advances in myrmecology. Leiden: E. J. Brill, xxvii + 551 pp. (page 111, raised to species)
- Miller, C. D. F. 1957. Taxonomic status of Formica subnitens Creighton and F. integroides Emery, with a description of the sexuals of F. subnitens (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Soc. 4: 253-257 (page 255, queen, male described, page 253, raised to species)
- Wheeler, G. C. and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles.
References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics
- Allred D. M. 1982. Ants of Utah. The Great Basin Naturalist 42: 415-511.
- Allred, D.M. 1982. The ants of Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 42:415-511.
- Downing H., and J. Clark. 2018. Ant biodiversity in the Northern Black Hills, South Dakota (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 91(2): 119-132.
- Knowlton G. F. 1970. Ants of Curlew Valley. Proceedings of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters 47(1): 208-212.
- Mackay W. P., and E. E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 400 pp.
- Miller C. D. F. 1957. Taxonomic status of Formica subnitens Creighton and F. integroides Emery, with a description of the sexuals of F. subnitens (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Soc. 4: 253-257.
- Trager J. Distributions of Nearctic Formica rufa group species. Personal communication 05 February 2014.
- Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
- Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1988. A checklist of the ants of Wyoming. Insecta Mundi 2(3&4):230-239