Formica biophilica James , Trager, J. C., MacGown, J. A. & Trager, M. D., 2007

Trager, J. C., MacGown, J. A. & Trager, M. D., 2007, Revision of the Nearctic endemic Formica pallidefulva group., Advances in ant systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Homage to E. O. Wilson - 50 years of contributions. (Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 80), pp. 610-636: 617-619

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Formica biophilica James

new species

Formica biophilica James  HNS  C. Trager new species

Figures 4 b, 5 b, 6 b

Formica pallidefulva  HNS  : Creighton, 1950, in part [Misidentification]

Formica schaufussi subsp. dolosa  HNS  : Creighton, 1950, in part [Misidentification]


HL 1.43; HW 1.15; EL 0.42; SL 1.70; WL 2.34; PnW 0.95; PnM 6; PpM 14; TM 30

Type specimen label: ALABAMA, Chilton Co., Interstate- 65 rest area 3 mi. E of Thorsby . 1 - X- 1983. M. B., J. R., B. R. DuBois. (JCT). Holotype and three paratypes on two pins. The holotype and one paratype will be deposited at MCZ and the other two specimens will be added to the excellent material of this species collected in Alabama and elsewhere by W. S. Creighton, now housed at LACM  .


Worker Gracile, shiny, and the brightest yellow member of the group. Head, mesosoma and legs light reddish- to pale brownish yellow; head and mesosoma not at all or only a little lighter than gaster. Dorsal sclerites of mesosoma and especially the gaster with long, usually curved, erect macrochaetae. Number of macrochaetae on propodeum usually exceeds the number on the pronotum (20 of 32 specimens examined). Sheen of gaster readily visible through pubescence composed of pale, slender, grayish hairs of medium density (Fig. 4 b). Erect macrochaetae on gaster long, commonly 0.25 - 0.30 mm, tapering to a point and curved (Fig. 6 b).

Queen Color, gastral pubescence and shininess like the workers, with the usual differences in size; with faint tessellation of upper portion of head, pronotum, sides of mesothorax, propodeum and gastral dorsum; wings, when present, clear to light brownish.

Male Pubescence and pilosity abundant; mesosomal dorsum dull-punctate; head and gaster very dark brown, appearing black; mesosoma dusky yellowish brown, legs reddish brown; wings clear to light brownish. A little brighter in color, especially mesosoma, less pilose, pilosity also finer, and less pubescent than dolosa  HNS  .


F. biophilica  HNS  and F. incerta  HNS  are sympatric in the southern part of the latter's range. In the field, F. biophilica  HNS  appears more brightly and uniformly reddish-yellow in color, and (if several workers of a colony are present) weakly polymorphic, whereas F. incerta  HNS  is more brownish yellow, smaller overall, and usually (though not invariably) more monomorphic within colonies. Metrically, F. biophilica  HNS  is more slender, has a proportionally longer mesosoma and narrower head than F. incerta  HNS  (compare SI, TWI and CI values, Table 1). F. biophilica  HNS  usually has more macrochaetae on the propodeum than on the pronotum (20 of 32 specimens), whereas F. incerta  HNS  usually has more macrochaetae on the pronotum than on the propodeum (22 of 31 specimens).

F. biophilica  HNS  is also somewhat more brightly and uniformly colored, shinier and overall less hairy, and has a sharper petiolar crest in profile than F. dolosa  HNS  . The F. biophilica  HNS  specimens examined in this study also had a significantly higher CTI and OI (were more slender and had relatively larger eyes) than F. dolosa  HNS  (Table 1). In the South, the less pilose minor workers and nanitics of F. biophilica  HNS  are difficult to differentiate from F. pallidefulva  HNS  . Often a rather squarer propodeal profile and more uniform bright reddish yellow color indicate F. biophilica  HNS  . Additionally, on average the TWI of F. pallidefulva  HNS  is larger than that of F. biophilica  HNS  (Table 1). Ecologically, specimens from fens, bogs, swamps and fresh or salt marshes are most likely to be F. biophilica  HNS  . In the northern part of the range of F. biophilica  HNS  , its bright color will always distinguish it from the at least partially brown F. incerta  HNS  and F. pallidefulva  HNS  .


The name biophilica is given in allusion to E. O. Wilson's popularly inspirational coining biophilia, meaning the love of other species as a part of human nature. Specimens from Alabama, Dr. Wilson's home state, were chosen as the type series to further honor his contributions to myrmecology, conservation and behavioral biology.


Found in mesic to hydric open habitats, including fields, prairies, lawns, fens, bogs, marshes and open woodlands, from the Carolinas to Missouri, south to northern Florida and central Texas. Northward, its occurrence is more sporadic, especially in formerly glaciated regions, where F. biophilica  HNS  shifts to drier (thus warmer) loess and sandy grassland locations. It reaches central Illinois in the Illinois River outwash sand prairies and reaches southeastern New York in the sandy plains along the East Coast and on Long Island. The habitat overlaps that of F. incerta  HNS  in unglaciated prairies and eastern meadows, and overlaps that of F. dolosa  HNS  in southern pine woodland and savanna. F. biophilica  HNS  is absent from the most xeric and infertile sites occupied by F. dolosa  HNS  . In the Ozarks and other southern U. S. hills, F. biophilica occurs in groundwater fens, bogs, marshes and flatwoods. This is the only southern Formica  HNS  that occurs in these wetland habitats, where it nests in the elevated hummocks of organic matter formed by grass or sedge tussocks. It is less common than F. pallidefulva  HNS  in human habitats, but occasionally shows up in lawns, parks and campuses, especially in parts of the South where fire ants are less abundant.


ARKANSAS: Logan   ; ALABAMA: Butler   ; Chilton   ; DeKalb   ; Lawrence   ; Mobile   ; Morgan   ; St. Clair   ; Tuscaloosa   ; DELAWARE: Sussex   ; DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Washington   ; FLORIDA: Alachua   ; Columbia   ; Gadsden   ; Okaloosa   ; Polk   ; Walton   ; GEORGIA: Clarke   ; Habersham   ; Lumpkin   ; Rabun   ; ILLINOIS: Mason   ; LOUISIANA: Natchitoches   ; Tammany   ; Washington  ; MISSISSIPPI: Alcorn   ; Bolivar   ; Chickasaw   ; Lafayette   ; Lee   ; Monroe   ; Oktibbeha   ; Panola   ; Pontotoc   ; Tippah   ; MISSOURI: Franklin   ; Lincoln   ; Reynolds   ; Washington  ; NEW YORK: Rockland   ; SOUTH CAROLINA: Pickens   ; TENNESSEE: Davidson   ; Monroe   ; Sevier   ; TEXAS: Cass   ; Collin   ; Potter   .


Nests of F. biophilica  HNS  have simple, cryptic openings in wetlands, grasslands or less often, in open woodlands. The entrance is usually hidden amongst grass or sedges. In springtime, colonies of F. biophilica  HNS  may build a 10 - 25 cm diameter mound of soil and plant fragments nestled against a grass or sedge clump, this collapsing in disuse during the hot, dry weather of summer. In fens, bogs and wet meadows, when ground at the base is permanently or seasonally saturated, F. biophilica  HNS  nests in the upper parts of graminoid tussocks. One colony under a strip of bark in unmowed grass in eastern Missouri contained four larvae of myrmecophilous staphylinid beetles, probably Xenodusa cava LeConte (but not collected for determination).

This species has been found as host to the slavemaker Polyergus lucidus  HNS  s. l. in Washington, D. C., northern Georgia and east-central Missouri. The variety of this slavemaker parasitizing F. biophilica  HNS  has longer scapes and is somewhat less shiny and slightly more pubescent than typical P. lucidus lucidus Mayr  HNS  , which parasitizes F. incerta  HNS  . F. biophilica  HNS  occurs among the many hosts of F. pergandei  HNS  in the prairies of Missouri, but has only been observed in combination with other host species. At one site, a F. pergandei  HNS  nest contained a melange of six slave species including (in order of decreasing relative abundance) F. pallidefulva  HNS  , F subsericea  HNS  Say, F. biophilica  HNS  , F. dolosa  HNS  , F. incerta  HNS  and F. obscuriventris Mayr  HNS  , certainly the most species-rich, naturally occurring ant colony on record!

Sexuals have been collected in nests in Missouri, Texas and Georgia in mid-June to early July, but no flight or colony-founding activity has been recorded. There is one example of a queen-male bilateral gynandromorph in a Missouri collection. The worker pupae are always enclosed in a pale tan cocoon, and the sexuals in a larger, darker cocoon.


USA, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology


USA, California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History