Formica paralugubris

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Formica paralugubris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species: F. paralugubris
Binomial name
Formica paralugubris
Seifert, 1996

Formica paralugubris focol0762 p 1 high.jpg

Formica paralugubris focol0762 d 1 high.jpg

Specimen Labels

A mountain wood ant that is a sister species to Formica lugubris.


A sibling species of Formica lugubris, these two species can be separated using queen pilosity characters and morphometrics (tables and discriminant functions to separate these two species and Formica aquilonia are provided by Seifert 1996).

Keys including this Species


Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada.
Palaearctic Region: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Germany, Iberian Peninsula, Spain, Switzerland (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Siefert (1996), in his description of this cryptic species provides rational for why this ant is distinct from its sibling species. This also suggests why our understanding of its biology, while studied, is entangled with studies of Formica lugubris.

During the last 18 years, a lot of biological investigations were performed on big polycalic colonies of Formica lugubris in the Swiss Jura mountains (e.g. Gris and Cherix 1977, Cherix and Rosengren 1979, Rosengren and Cherix 1980, Rosengren and Cherix 1981, Cherix 1983, Passera et al 1990, Cherix et al 1991, Cherix et al 1993, Walter et al, 1993). Extensive studies on allozyme variation (Pamilo et al 1992) gave clear evidence that there were two genetically distinct, sympatric species in the Swiss Jura mountains, where these species occur even syntopically. A clear exchange of genetic material between the two forms named 'type A' and 'type B' could not be demonstrated. In fact they behave like different species and show a clear preference for non-nestmate pupae of their own genetic type in a behavioural choice test (Rosengren et al 1994).



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

  • paralugubris. Formica paralugubris Seifert, 1996a: 199, figs. 4, 5 (w.q.) SWITZERLAND.

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



Figure 4 - Microsculpture and pubescence on dorsal plane of first gaster tergite in Formica paralugubris. Scale bar = 100 mm.
Figure 5 - Typical pilosity condition on the ventrolateral propodeum in the queen of Formica paralugubris showing short, straight and thick setae. Scale bar = 100 mm. Figure 6 - Typical pilosity condition on the ventrolateral propodeum in the queen of Formica lugubris with very long, curved and fine hairs. Scale bar = 100 mm.

Whole surface of head (except of genae), mesosoma, gaster, coxae, femora, and tibiae with numerous erect setae which are on average shorter than in Formica lugubris. Dorsal plane of scape frequently with several short and semierect hairs. Eyes with numerous erect hairs the longest of which measure 22-40 mm. Frons of head less matt than Formica pratensis, comparable to situation in Formica rufa. Scape shorter and thicker than in F. pratensis: the ratio scape length/maximum midpoint scape diameter is <9.60. Median area of clypeus, frons and back of head, antennae, coxae, femora, tibiae and gaster more or less blackish. Dorsum of promesonotum with a dark patch, which is less well defined than in pratensis. Remaining parts of head and mesosoma yellowish red. For morphometric data and distinction from F. lugubris see tables 1 and 2.


Occipital margin of head with 20-75 erect setae, which are normally 40-80 11m long. Dorsal plane of scape frequently with a number of shorter, semierect setae. Eyes with numerous erect hairs of 22--45 11m length. Standing setae on pronotum, mesonotum, scutellum, lateral mesopleuron, ventrolateral propodeum, lateral metapleuron, hind tibia, and frontal face of gaster definitely shorter than in lugubris. In contrast to this situation, the standing setae on the whole surface of all gaster sternites are very long (250-350 11m). Clypeus more shining than dorsum of head and genae. Mesonotum and scutellum mildly shining, but less than in rufa. Dorsum of gaster shining. Dorsum of first gaster tergite with very fine transversal microsculpture and closely set microfoveae of 9-13 mm diameter and 15-30 mm midpoint distance. The microfoveae are the basis for the pubescence hairs (Fig. 4). Median area of clypeus, frontal and occipital parts of head, upper pronotum, mesonotum, scutellum, gaster, and tibiae usually blackish. Genae, underside of head, coxae, femora, lower pronotum, lateral sclerites of mesosoma, and petiole yellowish red. For morphometric data and differences to lugubris and aquilonia see Tab. 3.

Type Material

Nest No. G5 near the Chalet a Roch field station, 5 km SSW Le Brassus in the Swiss Jura mountains. Holotype (a queen) and 10 paratypes (4 queens and 6 workers). The workers were collected on 5 May 1993 and the queens in June 1994. The labelling is "CH: Jura, 5.5. 1993, Chalet a Roch, nest G5" in the workers and "CH: Jura, 6. 1994, Chalet a Roch, nest G5" in case of queens. Another 24 worker paratypes originate from the nests G 1-G4, which belong to the same polycalic nest system as the holotype nest and were collected on 5 May 1993.


  • Bernasconi, C., Cherix, D., Seifert, B., Pamilo, P. 2011. Molecular taxonomy of the Formica rufa group (red wood ants) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): a new cryptic species in the Swiss Alps? Myrmecological News 14: 37-47.
  • Cherix, D. 1983. Intraspecific variations of alarm pheromones between two populations of the red wood ant Formica lugubris Zett. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft or Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique Suisse. 56:57-65.
  • Cherix, D. 1991. Red wood ants. Ethology, Ecology and Evolution. 1:165.
  • Cherix, D., D. J. C. Fletcher, D. Chautems, W. Fortelius, G. Gris, L. Keller, R. Rosengren, E. L. Vargo, and F. Walter. 1993. Attraction of the sexes in Formica lugubris Zett (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Insectes Sociaux. 40(3):319-324. doi:10.1007/BF01242368
  • Cherix, D. and R. Rosengren. 1980. Estimation de la fidélité sur pistes et de l'âge des fourrageuses chez Formica lugubris Zett. dans le Jura suisse par la méthode de coloration au spray. Pages 61-69 in D. *Cherix, editor. Écologie des insectes sociaux. (L'Union Internationale pour l'Etude des Insectes Sociaux, Section française, Compte Rendu Colloque Annuel, Lausanne, 7-8 Sept. 1979). UIEIS Section Française, Nyon. xv + 160 p.
  • Goropashnaya, Anna V.; Fedorov, Vadim B.; Pamilo, Pekka 2004. Recent speciation in the Formica rufa group ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae): inference from mitochondrial DNA phylogeny. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32(1): 198-206 (mtDNA sequence data)
  • Gris, G. and D. Cherix. 1977. Les grandes colonies de fourmis des bois du Jura (groupe Formica rufa). Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft or Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique Suisse. 50:249-250.
  • Pamilo, P., D. Chautems, and D. Cherix. 1992. Genetic differentiation of disjunct populations of the ants Formica aquilonia and Formica lugubris in Europe. Insectes Sociaux. 39(1):15-29. doi:10.1007/BF01240528
  • Passera, L., L. Keller, A. Grimal, D. Chautems, D. Cherix, D. J. C. Fletcher, W. Fortelius, R. Rosengren, and E. L. Vargo. 1990. Carbohydrates as energy source during the flight of sexuals of the ant Formica lugubris (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Entomologia Generalis. 15:25-32.
  • Rosengren, R., D. Chautems, D. Cherix, W. Fortelius, and L. Keller. 1994. Separation of two sympatric sibling species of Formica L. ants by a behavioural choice test based on brood discrimination. Memorabilia Zoologica. 48:237-249.
  • Rosengren, R. and D. Cherix. 1981. The pupa-carrying test as a taxonomic tool in the Formica rufa group. Pages 263-281 in P. E. Howse and J. L. Clément, editors. Biosystematics of social insects. Systematics Association Special Volume No. 19. Academic Press, London. 346 p.
  • Rosengren, R., K. Vepsäläinen, and H. Wuorenrinne. 1979. Distribution, nest densities and ecological significance of wood ants (the Formica rufa group) in Finland. Bulletin Section Regionale Ouest Paleartique / West Palaearctic Regional Section Bulletin, Organisation Internationale de Lutte Biologique Controle les Animaux et les Plantes Nuisible / International Organization for the Biological Control of Noxious Animals and Plants. II-3:181-213.
  • Seifert, B. 1996a. Formica paralugubris nov. spec. - a sympatric sibling species of Formica lugubris from the western Alps (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicoidea: Formicidae). Reichenbachia 31: 193-201 (page 199, figs. 4, 5 worker, queen described)
  • Seifert, B. 2016. The supercolonial European wood ant Formica paralugubris SEIFERT, 1996 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) introduced to Canada and its predicted role in Nearctic forests. Myrmecological News 22, 11-20.
  • Walter, F., D. J. C. Fletcher, D. Chautems, D. Cherix, L. Keller, W. Francke, W. Fortelius, R. Rosengren, and E. L. Vargo. 1993. Identification of the sex pheromone of an ant, Formica lugubris (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Naturwissenschaften. 80(1):30-34. doi:10.1007/BF01139755