Formica subnitens

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Formica subnitens
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Formicini
Genus: Formica
Species group: rufa
Species: F. subnitens
Binomial name
Formica subnitens
Creighton, 1940

Formica subnitens casent0005394 profile 1.jpg

Formica subnitens casent0005394 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

This species nests in thatched mounds, occasionally under stones or logs, usually with some surrounding thatch. They are occasionally found in earthen domes (Cole 1954, Mackay and Mackay 2002)


The middle and hind tibiae of this species have erect hairs in two rows (usually fewer than ten hairs in both rows combined), but do not have erect hairs scattered over the remainder of the surface. The erect hairs extend over nearly the entire length of the tibia. The gaster has few erect hairs on the first tergum (fewer than 10, excluding those along posterior edge of tergum). This latter characteristic separates it from the closely related Formica ravida which has more than 10 hairs on the same surface. The clypeus, cheeks and malar area are often shiny. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)

Keys including this Species


Western North America.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 50.874° to 32.333972°.

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.


In New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) - Grasslands to pinyon cedar forests, willows, and cedars.


Nevada, Wheeler and Wheeler (1986) - This species seems to make little use of thatch. The mounds were usually of soil and detritus. F. subnitens is widely scattered in the northern half of the state; 4,600-10,500 ft. We have 9 records from 9 localities, 2 of which were in the Cool Desert and 2 in the Coniferous Forest Biome. Three nests were described: (1) a dome 48 cm in diameter composed of soil and gravel with only a little plant debris; (2) under many stones; (3) messy pile of thatch 28 by 53 cm piled against a stone.

Nest site selected in open areas devoid of cover. Nest begun under stone or by excavation in the soil. Little or no use made of thatching. The finished nest without any superstructure or with a thin disc of thatching spread around the opening (Creighton, 1940).

Association with Other Organisms

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This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Orasema coloradensis (a parasite) (Wheeler, 1907; Johnson et al., 1986; Baker et al., 2019; Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (questionable, needs confirmation).



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

  • subnitens. Formica rufa subsp. subnitens Creighton, 1940a: 10, fig. 1 (w.) U.S.A. Miller, 1957: 255 (q.m.). Subspecies of integroides: Creighton, 1950a: 490. Raised to species: Cole, 1955b: 50; Miller, 1957: 253; Mackay, Lowrie, et al. 1988: 111 (in key).



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.
  • Downing H., and J. Clark. 2018. Ant biodiversity in the Northern Black Hills, South Dakota (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 91(2): 119-132.
  • Knowlton G. F. 1970. Ants of Curlew Valley. Proceedings of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters 47(1): 208-212.
  • Mackay W. P., and E. E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 400 pp.
  • Miller C. D. F. 1957. Taxonomic status of Formica subnitens Creighton and F. integroides Emery, with a description of the sexuals of F. subnitens (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Soc. 4: 253-257.
  • Trager J. Distributions of Nearctic Formica rufa group species. Personal communication 05 February 2014.
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1988. A checklist of the ants of Wyoming. Insecta Mundi 2(3&4):230-239