Formica dolosa Buren , 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: 619-621

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Formica dolosa Buren

stat. nov.

Formica dolosa Buren  HNS  , 1944 stat. nov.

Figures 1, 4 e, 5 e, 6 e

Formica pallidefulva subsp. schaufussi var. meridionalis Wheeler  HNS  , W. M. 1904: 370 [Unavailable name.]

Formica pallidefulva subsp. schaufussi var. dolosa Wheeler  HNS  , W. M. 1912: 90 [Unnecessary replacement name for meridionalis  HNS  ; also unavailable.]

Formica pallidefulva subsp. schaufussi  HNS  : Wheeler, W. M. 1913 b: 552 (in part) [Misidentification.]

Formica pallidefulva subsp. schaufussi var. dolosa  HNS  : Wheeler, W. M. 1913 b: 554

Formica (Neoformica) schaufussi subsp. dolosa Buren  HNS  , 1944: 309. [First available use of dolosa  HNS  .] Syntype workers, Bull Creek, Travis Co., Texas (W. M. Wheeler) ( MCZ) [Examined. Three workers on one pin, labeled true types of dolosa  HNS  by S. Cover, and two gynes on one pin labeled syntypes by S. Cover] 

Formica pallidefulva subsp. schaufussi  HNS  : Emery, 1893: 654 [Misidentification.]

Formica schaufussi  HNS  : Creighton, 1950: 551 [Misidentification.]

Formica schaufussi subsp. dolosa  HNS  : Creighton, 1950: 551

Formica schaufussi  HNS  : Robson & Traniello, 1998: (in part) [Vouchers examined.]

NOTE: We have selected a specimen in the Mayr collection ( NMW) labeled Nord Amerika / Schaufuss as lectotype of Formica schaufussi Mayr  HNS  , as this corresponds to the locality and collector information in Mayr s (1866) description. This sample clearly belongs to the much less pilose Formica pallidefulva  HNS  . Thus, the name Formica schaufussi Mayr falls to the synonymy of Formica pallidefulva  HNS  , below.


Worker The largest, most pilose, most densely pubescent and least shiny of reddishyellow members of the pallidefulva  HNS  group ( F. archboldi  HNS  is duller, but always much darker and averages smaller). Weakly bicolored; head, mesosoma and legs light coppery red (south) to yellowish or reddish brown (north); gaster a little darker than head and mesosoma. Dorsal sclerites of mesosoma with abundant erect pilosity (Fig. 6 e); erect macrochaetae on gaster abundant and long (longest macrochaetae 0.16 - 0.30 mm), straight to slightly curved. Mesosoma, especially propodeal dorsum, pubescent; gaster dulled by long, dense, pale grayish, appressed microchaetae (Fig. 4 e). Gaster with small shallow foveolae in some samples, these nearly lacking in others. The propodeal crest is nearly always rounded in F. dolosa  HNS  . The larger workers of this species are the largest eastern US Formica  HNS  , matched within the genus only by the allopatric and otherwise quite different F. ravida Creighton  HNS  .

Queen Color, gastral pubescence, abundant pilosity and lack of shininess like the workers, with the usual differences in size. Sculpture a little more accented with notable fine tessellation of entire head, mesosoma and gastral dorsum; wings, when present, clear brownish to dark smoky gray. Three mesoscutal spots present as in F. incerta  HNS  , but these pale and diffuse.

Male Pubescence dense and pilosity abundant; surface sculpture punctate; head and gaster dark brown, mesosoma reddish brown to dark reddish brown with legs the same color; wings dark smoky gray. Larger than the nearly similar F. incerta  HNS  , in which the mesosoma is normally about the same color as the head and gaster.


The propodeal crest of F. dolosa  HNS  is nearly always rounded in profile, and is typically sharp or even carinulate in the other species. This large, hairy, densely pubescent and faintly bicolored ant is most likely to be confused with F. biophilica  HNS  . Compared to F. biophilica  HNS  , F. dolosa  HNS  has conspicuous appressed pubescence on the mesosoma, has more abundant, but slightly shorter gastral pilosity (longest macrochaetae up to 0.30 mm), has longer, denser pubescence on the gaster (compare Fig. 4 b and 4 e), and averages larger and heavier-bodied. The number of macrochaetae on the pronotum usually exceeds that on the propodeum of F. dolosa  HNS  , (46 of 54 specimens) whereas the number on the propodeum more often exceeds that on the pronotum of F. biophilica  HNS  (20 of 32 specimens). F. dolosa  HNS  usually has relatively smaller eyes compared to F. biophilica  HNS  (Table 1). In the field, F. dolosa  HNS  occupies the drier end of the habitat spectrum, the two overlapping mainly in pine-oak woodlands of the Southeastern U. S., and in dry-mesic prairies further north. In the Northeastern U. S., larger, more pilose workers of F. incerta  HNS  are often misidentified as F. dolosa  HNS  , but F. dolosa  HNS  averages larger and more pilose, has mesosomal pubescence and denser gastral pubescence, has longer scapes and legs; is generally lighter, more yellowish or reddish in color, and is more strictly associated with highly drained soils.


This name comes from the Latin adjective dolosus, meaning cunning or sly. Perhaps Wheeler was referring to the fleetness of its escape when alarmed, as this species is very shy and an excellent escape artist.


Widely distributed from New England across the Great Lakes region, west to Wisconsin and Iowa and south to northern Florida, the Gulf Coast states and Texas. Records of this ant in Colorado by Gregg are all misidentified F. incerta  HNS  (L. Rericha, personal communication). F. dolosa  HNS  is decidedly most abundant on acid-soil sites. These include a variety of droughty or well-drained habitats such as barrens, glades, prairies or open oak or pine woodlands on silicaceous or loessic soils. Though reported (as schaufussi  HNS  ) from plowed fields and pastures in the Northeast, F. dolosa  HNS  is not usually common in such communities. J. Trager found F. dolosa  HNS  in calcareous glades in Alabama and Missouri, but it is not abundant in these sites. In stark contrast to F. incerta  HNS  and F. biophilica  HNS  , F. dolosa  HNS  does not nest in mesic habitats or in moist, fertile soils.


ALABAMA: Lawrence; ARKANSAS: Logan; FLORIDA: Alachua; Bay; Columbia; Escambia; Gilchrist; Jackson; Jefferson; Lake; Leon; Liberty; Okaloosa; Santa Rosa; Suwannee; Walton; GEORGIA: Clarke; Lumpkin; ILLINOIS: Mason; MARYLAND: Allegany; Dorchester; MASSACHUSETTS: Plymouth; Worchester MISSISSIPPI: Chickasaw; Choctaw; Lafayette; Lee; Lowndes; Noxubee; Oktibbeha; Pontotoc; Scott; Tishomingo; Winston; MISSOURI: Franklin; Johnson; Lincoln; Washington; NEW JERSEY: Ocean; NEW YORK: Nassau; Suffolk; NORTH CAROLINA: Nash OHIO: Adams; SOUTH CAROLINA: Aiken; Barnwell; McCormick; Oconee; TEXAS: Travis; WISCONSIN: Adams; Crawford; Dane; Grant; Iowa; Marshall; Sauk; Walworth; Waukesha.


Nests may be hidden beneath a rock or piece of wood, but most nest entrances are at the base of a grass clump or other herbaceous plant. Some open onto bare ground, the entrance surrounded by a crater of excavated soil adorned with plant fragments, charcoal bits or fine gravel. J. MacGown collected F. dolosa  HNS  in nests at the bases of large trees on relatively drier and more open ridges in mixed forests in northern Mississippi, and from an infrequently mowed area under loblolly pines near his house in Oktibbeha Co. Mississippi. The nest at the latter site was a low mound about 45 cm across and about 15 cm high at the midpoint. Part of the mound was inhabited by Camponotus castaneus Latreille  HNS  .

In the East and Gulf Coast United States, F. dolosa  HNS  is host to the slavemaker Polyergus lucidus longicornis  HNS  M. R. Smith. J. Trager's collection contains samples of this slavemaker with F. dolosa  HNS  slaves from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina and Mississippi. In Missouri, F. dolosa  HNS  is occasionally among the many hosts of F. pergandei  HNS  , but we have only observed them in combination with other host species (see Natural History of F. biophilica  HNS  for a case in point). In Florida, J. Trager observed F. dolosa  HNS  and F. archboldi  HNS  competing for domination of colonies of Toumeyella scales on long-leaf pine grass-stage seedlings. Occasionally, fights would arise in which the larger F. dolosa  HNS  threw or chased F. archboldi  HNS  workers to the ground.

Winged sexuals were collected in nests in mid-June in Florida and Georgia, and one male was found in a nest in western Missouri in August. Both worker and sexual pupae are always enclosed in a cocoon.


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


Austria, Wien, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien