Polyergus oligergus

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Polyergus oligergus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Polyergus
Species group: lucidus
Species: P. oligergus
Binomial name
Polyergus oligergus
Trager, 2013

Polyergus oligergus casent0104430 p 1 high.jpg

Polyergus oligergus casent0104430 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

Unusual for Polyergus in having a relatively small range, this Florida native raids nests of Formica archboldi.

At a Glance • Dulotic  

Photo Gallery

  • Nesting site (at shovel) of Polyergus oligergus with its slave Formica archboldi. Photo by Lloyd Davis.


Smaller size, more vertex pilosity, proportionally and often absolutely longer hind femora, higher values for any proportion using HFL and most with SL, and association with Formica archboldi distinguish this species from the similar Polyergus montivagus.

Polyergus oligergus apparently lives only in Florida and only with F. archboldi. It is quite similar to montivagus, but averages visibly smaller than the average for that species, has a lower petiole, tends to be slightly more pilose, and has smaller colony populations. Further P. montivagus often has dark brown to blackish legs, while those of P. oligergus are usually only slightly darker, if at all, than body color. Gynes and males of P. oligergus are significantly smaller in every dimension than those of P. montivagus.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 30.356° to 28.07°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: 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.


A colony dug by King (King and Trager, 2007) contained 40 mature Polyergus workers, with 340 Formica archboldi (King & Trager, 2007; Trager, 2013; de la Mora et al., 2021) workers. Near Gainesville Florida, I observed numerous raids by 4 colonies, with from 25–38 raiders participating (Trager and Johnson, 1985). One remarkable raid observed after that paper was published, was carried out successfully by four P. oligergus workers against a small F. archboldi colony. Each of the 4 raiders emerged alive and bearing a pupa, while the estimated 100+ F. archboldi workers and their gyne rushed out of the nest and climbed up nearby plant stems or hid under leaf litter. Raids that Trager and Johnson (1985, reported as lucidus) saw in Florida occurred from mid-May through July (with one outlier in early September). I observed alates flying off from the nests between 11:00 and noon, about 6 hours before brood raids on the same day, on clear dry days in July. The colony from Putnam Co., Florida contained a single, significantly larger, presumably ergatoid, individual.



Images from AntWeb

Polyergus oligergus casent0281051 h 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281051 p 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281051 d 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281051 l 1 high.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0281051. Photographer Shannon Hartman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Polyergus oligergus casent0281053 h 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281053 p 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281053 d 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281053 l 1 high.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0281053. Photographer Shannon Hartman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Polyergus oligergus casent0281054 h 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281054 p 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281054 d 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281054 l 1 high.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0281054. Photographer Shannon Hartman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Images from AntWeb

Polyergus oligergus casent0281050 h 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281050 p 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281050 d 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281050 l 1 high.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0281050. Photographer Shannon Hartman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ABS, Lake Placid, FL, USA.


Images from AntWeb

Polyergus oligergus casent0281052 h 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281052 p 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281052 p 2 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281052 p 3 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281052 d 1 high.jpgPolyergus oligergus casent0281052 l 1 high.jpg
Male (alate). Specimen code casent0281052. Photographer Shannon Hartman, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.


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

  • oligergus. Polyergus oligergus Trager, 2013: 527, figs. 36-38 (w.q.m.) U.S.A.

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

Type Material



Holotype HL 1.41, HW 1.37, SL 1.48, ½ VeM 2, ½ PnM 0, WL 2.26, GL 2.18, HFL 1.98, CI 97, SI 108, HFI 145, FSI 134, LI 3.67, TL 5.85.

Paratype (N=9) HL 1.36–1.56 (1.45), HW 1.31–1.52 (1.41), SL 1.40–1.58 (1.49), ½ VeM 0–3 (1.56), ½ PnM 0–1 (0.33), WL 2.16–2.48 (2.30), GL 2.08–2.28 (2.20), HFL 1.98–2.16 (2.06), CI 96–98 (97), SI 99–111, HFI 139–156, FSI 134–143 (139), LI 3.52–4.04 (3.75), TL 5.72–6.32 (5.96).

(N=44) HL 1.32–1.66 (1.48), HW 1.28–1.63 (1.45), SL 1.40–1.61 (1.51), ½ VeM 0–5 (2.55), ½ PnM 0–2 (0.93), WL 2.09–2.68 (2.36), GL 1.70–2.60 (2.09), HFL 1.98–2.32 (2.15), CI 94–102 (98), SI 93–113 (104), HFI 139–161 (148), FSI 134–154 (143), LI 3.48–4.34 (3.85), TL 5.23–6.94 (5.96).

Head ovoid to subhexagonal, widest just behind eyes, sides anterior to eyes often slightly concave, the two sides appearing parallel from eyes to mandibular bases, head length usually only slightly greater than breadth; vertex pilosity (0) 2–5 macrosetae present near each corner; scapes at least surpassing vertex corners, gradually thickening apically, SI 93–113 (values below 100 for an ergatoid and a few other very large workers); pronotum with (0)1–4 dorsal erect setae; mesonotal profile weakly convex for most of its length; propodeal profile rounded with nearly flat portions of dorsal and posterior faces meeting at about a curved right angle; petiole with rounded sides converging dorsad, petiolar dorsum flat or at most weakly concave; petiolar profile low, normally not reaching height of propodeal spiracle, petiolar front and rear surfaces convergent dorsad, front convex, rear straight; first tergite lacking pubescence; first tergite pilosity 0–6 relatively short suberect macrosetae.

Head very faintly shining; mesonotum weakly shining, shinier on lateral pronotum; gaster shiny.

Color red with somewhat darker legs, scapes and mesometapleura; what little pilosity is present is a bit lighter than main body color.


This species has the smallest worker populations of any Polyergus species. The name stems from Greek, olig- (few) plus erg- (work), roughly meaning few workers, and alliterating neatly with the genus name.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Trager J. C. 2013. Global revision of the dulotic ant genus Polyergus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae, Formicinae, Formicini). Zootaxa 3722(4): 501-548.