Polyergus lucidus

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Polyergus lucidus
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Polyergus
Species group: lucidus
Species: P. lucidus
Binomial name
Polyergus lucidus
Mayr, 1870



Specimen Label

Found from northeastern to midwestern North America, this species exclusively raids nests of Formica incerta.

At a Glance • Dulotic  

Photo Gallery

  • After a week, plus, of cool, gray weather, Polyergus lucidus were eager to do some late season nest circling in today's sunshine. 19 September 2014, Eastern Missouri. Photo by James Trager.
  • Polyergus lucidus returning from a raid to acquire Formica incerta pupae. The browner individuals are F. incerta workers already living in the mixed nest of this socially parasitic ant. July 2010, eastern Missouri, USA. Photo by James Trager.


Trager (2013): Polyergus lucidus is most likely to be confused with the broadly sympatric Polyergus montivagus, from which it can be distinguished by shorter scapes, greater abundance of vertex and pronotal pilosity, and conspicuously greater shininess. Though I have not seen types, I follow Smith (1947) in the characterization of this species. Smith redescribed the species based on a worker at PMNH, with the same data and collector (Norton) as those described by Mayr.

Keys including this Species


Trager (2013): Polyergus lucidus is widely distributed from southern New England to Wisconsin, south to the mountain meadows and balds of the Carolinas and the tallgrass prairies of Missouri, matching most of the distribution of its unique host, Formica incerta (but not seen from Nebraska and Kansas).

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 45.95° to 33.298°.

Tropical South

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

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.

Estimated Abundance

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.


Trager (2013): This species has been studied on Long Island, New York by Topoff and his students. Cool-Kwait and Topoff (1983, 1984) published on its raid organization and emigrations, reporting behavioral patterns familiar throughout the genus. At the same study site, Goodloe and Sanwald (1985) later studied host specificity in what I here report to be lucidus and sanwaldi with their distinct hosts, Formica incerta and Formica dolosa (reported as nitidiventris and schaufussi), respectively. These authors made the important finding that gynes arising from colonies with one of these hosts were not successfully adopted by the other host species, an early hint to me of their heterospecificity.

Flight Period

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

Source: antkeeping.info.

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is a slave maker for the ant Formica incerta (a host) (Goodloe & Sanwald, 1985; Trager, 2013; de la Mora et al., 2021).
  • This species is a host for the braconid wasp Elasmosoma schwarzi (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode primary; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).
  • This species is a prey for the Microdon fly Microdon fulgens (a predator) (Quevillon, 2018).


  • This species is a host for the fungus Laboulbenia formicarum (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).



Images from AntWeb

Polyergus lucidus casent0104430 head 1.jpgPolyergus lucidus casent0104430 profile 1.jpgPolyergus lucidus casent0104430 dorsal 1.jpgPolyergus lucidus casent0104430 label 1.jpg
Holotype of Polyergus oligergusWorker. Specimen code casent0104430. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ABS, Lake Placid, FL, USA.


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

  • lucidus. Polyergus lucidus Mayr, 1870b: 952 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1968: 214 (l.); Wheeler, W.M. 1903f: 659 (gynandromorph). Subspecies of rufescens: Forel, 1886f: 200; Emery, 1893i: 666. Revived status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 214; Wheeler, W.M. 1917i: 465; Smith, M.R. 1947g: 152; Creighton, 1950a: 557. See also: Talbot, 1968: 299; Trager, 2013: 524.

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

Type Material

  • Syntype, worker, queen, male, near Farmington?, Connecticut, United States, Norton, (presumably at NMW, Trager (2013)).



Trager (2013) - (N=38) HL 1.40–1.76 (1.59), HW 1.38–1.76 (1.53), SL 1.19–1.36 (1.27), ½ VeM 5–12 (7.25), ½ PnM 0–6 (2.67), WL 2.32–2.86 (2.49), GL 2.00–2.68 (2.32), HFL 1.72–2.04 (1.89), CI 93–100 (96), SI 75–91 (84), HFI 114–131 (123), FSI 140–158 (148), LI 3.72–4.62 (4.08), TL 5.72–7.12 (6.40).

Head subrectangular to narrowly subtrapezoidal, HL greater than HW, and often widest about half way from eye to vertex (narrowing closer to eye in other lucidus group species); with conspicuous vertex pilosity of 10–16 macrosetae (rarely up to 24); scapes not reaching vertex corners by 1–2X maximum widths of scape, scape notably clavate in the apical third; pronotum with 1–8 (12) erect setae; mesonotal profile weakly convex; propodeal profile evenly rounded; petiole with convex sides; petiolar dorsum convex; first tergite lacking pubescence; first tergite pilosity sparse, straight, shorter than the distance separating the setae.

Head somewhat to very shiny; mesonotum shiny; gaster shiny.

Color red, often with infuscation of portions of legs and gastral tip.


Trager (2013) - Latin “lucidus” means shining, an appropriate name for Mayr’s species, the shiniest of all Polyergus.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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  • Carroll T. M. 2011. The ants of Indiana (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Master's thesis Purdue University.
  • Colby, D. and D. Prowell. 2006. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Wet Longleaf Pine Savannas in Louisiana. Florida Entomologist 89(2):266-269
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  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at http://www.asu.edu/clas/sirgtools/resources.htm
  • Jones J. W. 1943. Known distribution of the shining slave maker ant Polyergus lucidus Mayr. American Midland Naturalist 29: 185
  • King J. R., and J. C. Trager. 2007. Natural history of the slave making ant, Polyergus lucidus, sensu lato in northern Florida and its three Formica pallidefulva group hosts. Journal of Insect Science 7: Article 42 (available online: insectscience.org/7.42): 14 pp.
  • Lynch J. F. 1988. An annotated checklist and key to the species of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Chesapeake Bay region. The Maryland Naturalist 31: 61-106
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  • Smith M. R. 1947. A study of Polyergus in the United States, based on the workers (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). American Midland Naturalist 38: 150-161.
  • Smith M.R. 1947. A Study of Polyergus in the Unites States. Based on the Workers (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) American Midland Naturalist. 38: 150-161
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  • Trager, J. and C.Johnson. 1985. A slave-making ant in Florida: Polyergus lucidus with observations on the natural history of its host Formica archboldi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). The Florida Entomologist 68(2):261-266.
  • Warren, L.O. and E.P. Rouse. 1969. The Ants of Arkansas. Bulletin of the Agricultural Experiment Station 742:1-67
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