Formica polyctena Forster,

Collingwood, C. A., 1979, The Formicidae (Hymenoptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark., Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 8, pp. 1-174: 144

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Formica polyctena Forster


59. Formica polyctena Forster  HNS  , 1850 Figs. 172,236-241.

Formica polyctena Forster  HNS  , 1850: 15.

Worker. Erect hairs on head and alitrunk very sparse and short or absent, except on posterior margins of mesopleura. Gula hairs, if present, are restricted to one or two very weak hairs. Microsculpture is usually slightly coarser than in F. rufa  HNS  but punctures and micropunctures are widely spaced as in that species. Length: 4.0-8.5 mm.

Queen. As F. rufa  HNS  but middle of scutellum less shining, with fine longitudinal striae and punctures. Frons distinctly shining but rest of body due to coarser sculpture presenting a somewhat more matt appearance than in F. rufa  HNS  . Length: 9.0-10.5 mm.

Male. Eye hairs very sparse and short. Erect hairs on promesonotum sparse, very short or absent on metanotum. Punctures on gaster and frons shallow and widely spaced. Length: 9.0-10.5 mm.

Distribution. Local, Denmark: EJ, NEJ, NEZ. - Sweden: Sk., Bl., Hall., Gtl., Nrk., Sdm., Upl., Vrm. - Norway: 0, AK, VE. - Finland: N, Ka, Ta. - Not found in England. - Range: Spain to Siberia, Italian Alps to latitude 60° in Sweden.

Biology. This is accepted as a good species by most European authors, eg. Betrem (1960), Dlussky (1967), Kutter (1977). Some samples of F. rufa  HNS  tend to approach the hairless condition of F. polyctena  HNS  however, making certain determination sometimes difficult. Elton (priv. communication) found that F. polyctena  HNS  in its most typical form readily accepted fertile queens and pupae from other distant nests of the same species but were always antagonistic to and rejected such from both polygonous and monogynous colonies of F. rufa  HNS  . This is usually found in a group of nests and always has many queens, sometimes up to 1,000 or more.