Temnothorax furunculus

AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
Temnothorax furunculus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Temnothorax
Species group: palearctic
Species: T. furunculus
Binomial name
Temnothorax furunculus
(Wheeler, W.M., 1909)

Temnothorax furunculus casent0172592 profile 1.jpg

Temnothorax furunculus casent0172592 dorsal 1.jpg

Nests under stones in pinyon-cedar woodlands (Wheeler, 1909; Gregg, 1963). It has also been found in sagebrush habitat in Utah (Allred 1982).


Mackay (2000) - A member of the Temnothorax tricarinatus species complex. The workers of this species are yellow brown with a 12 segmented antenna. The clypeus has a single median carina, 2 prominent lateral carinae and a few others, which are poorly defined. The head has wavy rugae, forming concentric semicircles around the insertion of the antennae, the striae posterior to the eyes are directed posteriorly to the occipital lobes, the central area of the head has poorly defined striae and is partially smooth and shining. The top of the mesosoma is covered with punctures and fine rugae, the sides near the top have somewhat coarse rugae. The pronotum has striae, the mesopleuron and side of the propodeum are covered with punctures. The propodeal spines are small, but well formed. The petiolar node is moderately sharp, as seen in the subpeduncular process, is large and well developed. The surface of the petiole and postpetiole are covered with punctures. The dorsum of the gaster is smooth and polished.

This species could be confused with Temnothorax nevadensis or Temnothorax andrei. It differs from these species in that the petiolar node is moderately sharp at the apex (rounded in Temnothorax nevadensis and Temnothorax andrei) and the hairs on the petiole and postpetiole are only very slightly spatulate, or simply truncate. It is similar in color to Temnothorax andrei, but has propodeal spines, which are about 1/2 the length of the distance between their bases, not simply angles as in Temnothorax andrei. The clypeus is completely different from that of Temnothorax andrei possessing a single medial carina and two prominent lateral carinae, not a series of poorly defined carinae as in Temnothorax andrei. It could be confused with Temnothorax rugithorax, but differs in the node of the petiole having a sharp apex (truncate and square shaped in Temnothorax rugithorax). It can be separated from Temnothorax neomexicanus, but is lighter in color and has a much more developed subpeduncular process. Wheeler (1909) states that Temnothorax furunculus has a distinct mesopropodeal impression, which is correct, although the impression is poorly developed and not much more notable than in most of the other species in the subgenus.

Keys including this Species


USA. Wyoming, Colorado, Utah.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 43.848829° to 34.156971°.

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.


Collected from pinyon-cedar woodland and sagebrush habitats.


Only known from a few collections.


Explore-icon.png Explore Overview of biology 
Not much is known about the the biology of this taxon. We can speculate that its biology is likely to be similar to other North American species of this genus.

Temnothorax is a diverse genus but most species do show a remarkable consistency in some important aspects of their biology. Workers and colonies are small. As a group they nest in many places: small cavities in the soil, under or among stones or in small cavities in living or dead vegetation. Individually, most species have a strong preference for how and where they nest, e.g., there are gall nesting species, soil nesters, arboreal species, those that nest in small downed twigs, etc. Their nest entrances are often a cryptic, tiny hole that is only found by observing a worker exiting or entering the nest. A few common and abundant species are relatively well studied but the majority are rare or are rarely collected. For all but the most common and abundant species finding a nest is difficult because of the combination of their small colony size, small workers, unaggressive behavior, and diminutive, inconspicuous nests. In a few cases where we do know the diet of a species, it consists of sweet exudates and general scavenging of insect pieces and other items. It is presumed most of the unstudied Temnothorax have a similar diet. Aphid tending and hunting small soil arthropods may also be a part of their foraging repertoire. For all the consistency in these characters, individual species exhibit wide variation in others. Habitat affinities are often restrictive at the species level (but overall Temnothorax can be found in places that range from high elevation, high latitude, forests to hot, dry desert regions). Queen number is difficult to predict; there are species that are polygnous, monogynous, and even some species with seasonal polydomy that vary in nesting site queen number over the course of the year. There is also little consistency in color from species to species. ‎


Known only from the worker caste.

Regional Notes


Gregg (1963) "Until the present investigations were undertaken, this species was not known from other than type material. Although we have not succeeded in finding topotypes, we have discovered the ant in the southwestern portion of Colorado on Mesa Verde.We have also received specimens from Dr. D. C. Lowrie, who collected them on Signal Mountain and in the Jackson Hole Wildlife Park near Moran, Wyoming. As the species must still be considered exceedingly rare, it is not possible to describe its distribution in detail, but enough information has come to light to enable one to visualize the general extent of its range. It would appear to be a Rocky Mountain insect."


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

  • furunculus. Leptothorax furunculus Wheeler, W.M. 1909e: 82 (w.) U.S.A. Combination in L. (Myrafant): Smith, D.R. 1979: 1393; in Temnothorax: Bolton, 2003: 271. See also: Mackay, 2000: 344.

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



Worker. - Length 2-2.6 mm.

Head longer than broad, subrectangular, with very feebly emarginate posterior border and slightly convex sides, with the eyes slightly in front of their middle. Mandibles 6-toothed. Clypeus convex, with rounded, entire, rather projecting anterior border, its disc with a longer median and a pair of shorter lateral carinae. Antennae 12-jointed; scapes not reaching the posterior corners of the head; first funicular joint as long as joints 2-5 together; joints 2-7 narrow, subequal, broader than long, joint 8 as long as broad; club 3-jointed, its two basal joints subequal, together shorter than the terminal joint. Thorax somewhat narrower behind than in front, with rounded humeri; dorsum flattened, with a distinct mesoepinotal suture and impression. Epinotal spines about as long as broad at their bases, rather acute, further apart than long, directed upward and slightly outward and backward. Petiole nearly twice as long as broad, slightly broader behind than in front, with straight sides; in profile with rather thick peduncle, armed with an acute antero-ventral tooth; node high and acute, its anterior declivity concave, the posterior shorter, more abrupt and feebly convex. Postpetiole subrectangular, a little broader than the petiole and somewhat broader than long, with subparallel sides and distinct anterior angles; in profile with low, rounded node. Gaster rather large, elliptical, with rounded anterior corners. Legs of usual shape.

Mandibles opaque, indistinctly striato-punctate. Clypeus and frontal area shining, sides of the former longitudinally rugulose. Head, thorax, petiole and postpetiole subopaque or glossy; gaster glabrous, legs somewhat less shining. Head very finely longitudinally rugulose and reticulate. Thorax, petiole and postpetiole covered with dense, shallow punctures, thoracic dorsum also very indistinctly and longitudinally rugulose.

Hairs yellow; on the body sparse, erect, obtuse but hardly clavate; on the legs and scapes replaced by delicate appressed pubescence.

Yellow; thorax, petiole and postpetiole pale brown; head, excluding the mandibles, clypeus, cheeks and gula, dark brown; gaster dark brown or blackish above, with the posterior edge and a broad band across the anterior portion of each segment, yellow. Antennal clubs slightly infuscated. Mandibular teeth black.

Type Material

Mackay (2000) - Colorado, Williams Canyon near Manitou, 7,500' American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Comparative Zoology [seen]."


  • Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
  • Allred, D. M. 1982. Ants of Utah. Great Basin Naturalist. 42:415-511.
  • Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and Classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 71: 370pp (page 271, Combination in Temnothorax)
  • Gregg, R. E. 1963. The ants of Colorado, with reference to their ecology, taxonomy, and geographic distribution. University of Colorado Press, Boulder.
  • MacKay, W. P. 2000. A review of the New World ants of the subgenus Myrafant, (genus Leptothorax) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 36: 265-444 (page 344, see also)
  • Prebus, M.M. 2021. Taxonomic revision of the Temnothorax salvini clade (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with a key to the clades of New World Temnothorax. PeerJ 9, e11514 (doi:10.7717/peerj.11514).
  • Smith, D. R. 1979. Superfamily Formicoidea. Pp. 1323-1467 in: Krombein, K. V., Hurd, P. D., Smith, D. R., Burks, B. D. (eds.) Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Volume 2. Apocrita (Aculeata). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Pr (page 1393, Combination in L. (Myrafant))
  • Wheeler, W. M. 1909e. A decade of North American Formicidae. J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 17: 77-90 (page 82, worker described)

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.
  • Gregg, R.T. 1963. The Ants of Colorado.
  • Hoey-Chamberlain R. V., L. D. Hansen, J. H. Klotz and C. McNeeley. 2010. A survey of the ants of Washington and Surrounding areas in Idaho and Oregon focusing on disturbed sites (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology. 56: 195-207
  • Mackay W. P. 2000. A review of the New World ants of the subgenus Myrafant, (genus Leptothorax) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 36: 265-444.
  • Mackay W. P. and Mackay, E. E. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 400 pp.