Formica subpolita

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Formica subpolita
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. subpolita
Binomial name
Formica subpolita
Mayr, 1886

Formica subpolita casent0005377 profile 1.jpg

Formica subpolita casent0005377 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels



Keys including this Species


Western North America, south to Mexico.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 56.258056° to 30.88333333°.

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.


Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986):

This species is found in abundance throughout the state from 4,300 ft. to 10,800 ft. (43% of the records 6,000-7,000 ft., 65% 6,000-8,000 ft., 93% 5,000-9,000 ft.). We have 204 records from 108 localities. Of these 64 were in the Cool Desert (2 in the cottonwood riparian), 51 in the Pinyon-Juniper Biome, 19 in the Coniferous Forest Biome, 8 from the ecotone above, and 5 in the Alpine Biome.

We have descriptions of 122 nests: 61 were under stones and 9 were under other objects lying on the ground; of the exposed nests 44 were surmounted by craters (4-10 cm in diameter with entrances 4-8 mm in diameter) and 8 by messy mounds of excavated soil. Colonies may be locally very numerous. Workers were timid and fast.

We have collected mealybugs from 3 nests (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae; det. D.R. Miller): Cryptoripersia tubulata McKenzie from Lamoille Canyon (9-32N-58) 7,000 ft. (Elko Co.) and from Mt. Jefferson 8,700 ft. (Nye Co.); Phenacoccus eschscholziae McKenzie from Carroll Summit (9-16N-38) 7,500 ft. (Lander Co.).

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is a host for the ant Formica densiventris (a slave maker).
  • This species is a host for the ant Formica puberula (a slave maker) (Mackay & Mackay, 2002).
  • This species is a host for the ant Polyergus mexicanus (a slave maker) (true slave maker Polyergus laeviceps).
  • This species is a host for the braconid wasp Elasmosoma vigilans (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).


  • This species is a host for the fungus Laboulbenia formicarium (a parasite) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission within nest).
  • This species is a host for the fungus Laboulbenia formicarum (a pathogen) (Espadaler & Santamaria, 2012).

Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec



MCZ-ENT00008841 Formica subpolita var ficticia hef.jpgMCZ-ENT00008841 Formica subpolita var ficticia hal.jpgMCZ-ENT00008841 Formica subpolita var ficticia had.jpgMCZ-ENT00008841 Formica subpolita var ficticia lbs.jpgMCZ-ENT00008880 Formica subpolita var camponoticeps hef.jpgMCZ-ENT00008880 Formica subpolita var camponoticeps hal.jpgMCZ-ENT00008880 Formica subpolita var camponoticeps had.jpgMCZ-ENT00008880 Formica subpolita var camponoticeps lbs.jpg
. Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.


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

  • subpolita. Formica fusca var. subpolita Mayr, 1886d: 426 (w.q.) U.S.A. Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 534 (m.). Combination in F. (Serviformica): Emery, 1925b: 251. Subspecies of gagates: Dalla Torre, 1893: 199; of fusca: Emery, 1893i: 661. Raised to species: Wheeler, W.M. 1908g: 625; Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 532. Senior synonym of flammiventris: Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 532; Creighton, 1950a: 541; of camponoticeps, ficticia: Francoeur, 1973: 107.
  • rufiventris. Formica rufiventris Emery, 1893i: 665, pl. 22, fig. 11 (m.) U.S.A. [Junior primary homonym of rufiventris Fabricius, 1804: 409, above.] Replacement name: flammiventris Wheeler, W.M. 1912c: 90.
  • flammiventris. Formica flammiventris Wheeler, W.M. 1912c: 90. Replacement name for rufiventris Emery, 1893i: 665. [Junior primary homonym of rufiventris Fabricius, 1804: 409.] Junior synonym of subpolita: Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 532.
  • camponoticeps. Formica subpolita var. camponoticeps Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 535 (w.) U.S.A. Subspecies of subpolita: Creighton, 1950a: 542. Junior synonym of subpolita: Francoeur, 1973: 107.
  • ficticia. Formica subpolita var. ficticia Wheeler, W.M. 1913f: 561 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. Subspecies of subpolita: Creighton, 1950a: 542. Junior synonym of subpolita: Francoeur, 1973: 107.

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


Francoeur 1973. Figures 166-181.


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.
  • Blacker, N.C. 1992. Some Ants from Southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. J. Entomol. Soc. Bri. Columbia 89:3-12.
  • Blacker, N.C. 1992. Some ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 89:3-12
  • Borchert, H.F. and N.L. Anderson. 1973. The Ants of the Bearpaw Mountains of Montana (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 46(2):200-224
  • Clarke K.M., Fisher B.L. and LeBuhn G. 2008. The influece of urban park characteristics on ant (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) communities. Urban Ecosyst 11: 317-334
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1932. Nests of the ant, Formica subpolita Mayr, in the western United States. Ohio Journal of Science 32: 247-248.
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1936. An annotated list of the ants of Idaho (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Canadian Entomologist 68: 34-39.
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1937. An annotated list of the ants of Arizona (Hym.: Formicidae). [concl.]. Entomological News 48: 134-140.
  • Cole A. C., Jr. 1942. The ants of Utah. American Midland Naturalist 28: 358-388.
  • Cole, A.C. 1936. An annotated list of the ants of Idaho (Hymenoptera; Formicidae). Canadian Entomologist 68(2):34-39
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Des Lauriers J., and D. Ikeda. 2017. The ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California, USA with an annotated list. In: Reynolds R. E. (Ed.) Desert Studies Symposium. California State University Desert Studies Consortium, 342 pp. Pages 264-277.
  • Emery C. 1893. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der nordamerikanischen Ameisenfauna. Zoologische Jahrbücher. Abteilung für Systematik, Geographie und Biologie der Tiere 7: 633-682.
  • 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.
  • Francoeur. A. 1973. Revision taxonomique des especes nearctiques du group fusca, genre Formica. Memoires de la Societe Entomologique du Quebec 3: 1-316.
  • Gregg, R.T. 1963. The Ants of Colorado.
  • Hayes W. P. 1925. A preliminary list of the ants of Kansas (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). [concl.]. Entomological News 36: 69-73
  • Johnson, R.A. and P.S. Ward. 2002. Biogeography and endemism of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Baja California, Mexico: a first overview. Journal of Biogeography 29:1009–1026/
  • Knowlton G. F. 1970. Ants of Curlew Valley. Proceedings of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters 47(1): 208-212.
  • La Rivers I. 1968. A first listing of the ants of Nevada. Biological Society of Nevada, Occasional Papers 17: 1-12.
  • Longino, J.T. 2010. Personal Communication. Longino Collection Database
  • Mallis A. 1941. A list of the ants of California with notes on their habits and distribution. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 40: 61-100. 
  • MontBlanc E. M., J. C. Chambers, and P. F. Brussard. 2007. Variation in ant populations with elevation, tree cover, and fire in a Pinyon-Juniper-dominated watershed. Western North American Naturalist 67(4): 469–491.
  • Ratchford, J.S., S.E. Wittman, E.S. Jules, A.M. Ellison, N.J. Gotelli and N.J. Sanders. 2005. The effects of fire, local environment and time on ant assemblages in fens and forests. Diversity and Distributions 11:487-497.
  • Rees D. M., and A. W. Grundmann. 1940. A preliminary list of the ants of Utah. Bulletin of the University of Utah, 31(5): 1-12.
  • Smith F. 1941. A list of the ants of Washington State. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 17(1): 23-28.
  • Tanquary M. C. 1912. A preliminary list of ants from Illinois. Trans. Ill. Acad. Sci. 4: 137-142.
  • Vasquez-Bolanos M. 2011. Checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Mexico. Dugesiana 18(1): 95-133.
  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133
  • Wheeler G. C., and E. W. Wheeler. 1944. Ants of North Dakota. North Dakota Historical Quarterly 11:231-271.
  • 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. 1906. Fauna of New England. 7. List of the Formicidae. Occasional Papers of the Boston Society of Natural History 7: 1-24
  • Wheeler W. M. 1906. Fauna of New England. 7. List of the Formicidae. Occasional Papers of the Boston Society of Natural History 7: 1-24.
  • 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 W. M. 1916. Formicoidea. Formicidae. Pp. 577-601 in: Viereck, H. L. 1916. Guide to the insects of Connecticut. Part III. The Hymenoptera, or wasp-like insects, of Connecticut. Connecticut State Geological and Natural History Survey. Bulletin 22: 1-824.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1917. The mountain ants of western North America. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 52: 457-569.
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1978. Mountain ants of Nevada. Great Basin Naturalist 35(4):379-396
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1988. A checklist of the ants of Montana. Psyche 95:101-114