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Subfamily: Formicinae   Latreille, 1802 


Current Valid Name:

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2023)

Extant: 11 valid tribes, 52 valid genera, 3,264 valid species

Fossil: 34 valid genera, 198 valid species

Formicariae Latreille, 1802b: 352 [as family-group name]. Type-genus: Formica. AntCat AntWiki

Taxonomic history

Formicinae as subfamily of Formicidae: Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, 1835 PDF: 197 [Heterogynides, tribu Formicites]; Nylander, 1846a PDF: 877 [Formicae]; Mayr, 1855 PDF: 286, 299 [Formicina, Formicidae]; Nylander, 1856b PDF: 53 [Formicineae]; Mayr, 1861 PDF: 21, 25 [Formicidae, Formicidae]; Mayr, 1862 PDF: 651 [Formicidae]; Mayr, 1865 PDF: 6 [Formicidae]; Mayr, 1868b PDF: 24 [Formicidae]; Forel, 1870 PDF: 307 [Formicidae]; Dours, 1873 PDF: 164 [Formicidae]; Forel, 1874 PDF: 21, 37 [Formicariae, Formicidae]; Emery, 1877b PDF: 70 [Formicidae]; Ashmead, 1905c PDF: 384 [Formicinae]; Bondroit, 1918 PDF: 17 [Formicitae]; Wheeler, 1920 PDF: 53 [Formicinae]; Wheeler, 1922: 210, 691 [Formicinae]; Emery, 1925d PDF: 2 [Formicinae]; Karavaiev, 1936: 172; Chapman & Capco, 1951 PDF: 197; Clark, 1951 PDF: 16; Smith, 1951c PDF: 838; Brown, 1954b PDF: 29; Kempf, 1972b PDF: 266; Brown, 1973b PDF: 169; Baroni Urbani, 1984 PDF: 81; Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990: 17; subsequent authors; Bolton, 2003 PDF: 20, 93; Boudinot, 2015 PDF: 51; Perkovsky, 2016 10.1515/vzoo-2016-0014 PDF: 114.
[Note: the early family-group name Formicites Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, 1835 PDF: 197, is not cognate with the formicine collective genus-group name Formicites Dlussky, 1981.]
Heterogyna [unavailable name] Heterogynes Latreille, 1817g: 455 [as family-group name (Heterogynes)]. Unavailable name; not based on a genus rank taxon. [Notes (i): the family-group name was initially designated by Latreille, 1817g to include the tribes Formicaries (Formicidae) and Mutillaires (Mutillidae). Other authors of the 19th and early 20th centuries used this unavailable name in a variety of forms: Stephens, 1829b: 356 (Aculeata subsectio Heterogyna); Perty, 1833: 134 (Family Heterogyna); Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau, 1835 PDF: 97 (Family Heterogynides); Haliday, 1836: 331 (as superfamily name, Hymenoptera stirps Heterogyna, to include the families Mutillidae, Dorylidae, Formicidae); Shuckard, 1840a PDF: 188 (Hymenoptera, Heterogyna); Le Guillou, 1842 PDF: 313 (as family-group name, Heterogynes); Smith, 1851 PDF: 1 (Aculeata tribe Heterogyna); Smith, 1855a PDF: 95 (Heterogyna, Formicidae); Smith, 1858a PDF: 1 (Aculeata tribe Heterogyna); Smith, 1859c PDF: 1 (Aculeata tribe Heterogyna); Smith, 1871c: viii (Heterogyna as superfamily, to include Formicidae, Poneridae, Myrmicidae, Mutillidae); Saunders, 1880 PDF: 202 (Heterogyna (= Formicidae + Myrmicidae + Poneridae)); White, 1884 PDF: 246 (Aculeata division Heterogyna); Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: title page (Formicidae (Heterogyna)); Saunders, 1896 PDF: 16 (Heterogyna (= Formicidae)); Forel, 1899a PDF: 116 (Heterogyna (Formicidae)); Forel, 1899b PDF: 1 (Aculeata section Heterogyna); Bingham, 1903 PDF: 1 (tribe Heterogyna, family Formicidae); Wheeler, 1910a PDF: 134 (Formicidae (Heterogyna)); (ii) not to be confused with Heterogynaidae (type-genus Heterogyna Nagy, 1969), a small family of apoid wasps.]
Philopona [unavailable name] Philopona Kirby, 1837: 261 [as family-group name (Heterogyna race Philopona), containing only the family Formicidae]. Unavailable name, not based on a genus rank taxon. [Notes (i): Kirby, 1837 defines Philopona as, “all those genera that constitute Linné’s genus Formica, distinguished by their admirable industry, their wonderful economy, and the nests they construct.” By this definition Philopona is an absolute junior synonym of Formicidae; (ii) Westwood, 1839a PDF: 217, refers to the “Sodales (or Philopona K.)”, which contains, “the single family Formicidae”, which “corresponds with the genus Formica of Linnaeus, and the Heterogyna of St. Fargeau.” Thus Philopona and Sodales are absolute synonyms, and both are junior synonyms of Formicidae.]
Socialia [unavailable name] Socialia White, 1884 PDF: 246 [as family-group name (Heterogyna phalanx Socialia)]. Unavailable name, not based on a genus rank taxon. [Note: originally designated to include the families Formicidae, Poneridae, and Myrmicidae. Socialia would therefore be equivalent to the modern rank of superfamily, and is synonymous with the modern Formicidae.]
Sodales [unavailable name] Sodales Westwood, 1839a PDF: 217 [as family-group name (synonymous with Philopona), containing only the family Formicidae]. Unavailable name, not based on a genus rank taxon. [Note: Westwood, 1839a PDF refers to the “Sodales (or Philopona K.)” which contains, “the single family Formicidae”, which “corresponds with the genus Formica of Linnaeus, and the Heterogyna of St. Fargeau.” Thus Philopona and Sodales are absolute synonyms, and both are junior synonyms of Formicidae.]
Tribes of Formicinae: Camponotini, Formicini, Gesomyrmecini, Gigantiopini, Lasiini, Melophorini, Myrmelachistini, Myrmoteratini, Oecophyllini, Plagiolepidini, Santschiellini
Genera incertae sedis in Formicinae: Attopsis, Camponotites, Curtipalpulus, Drymomyrmex, Eoleptocerites, Eurytarsites, Fushuniformica, Heeridris, Huaxiaformica, Imhoffia, Kyromyrma, Leptogasteritus, Leucotaphus, Liaoformica, Longiformica, Magnogasterites, Orbicapitia, Ovalicapito, Ovaligastrula, Protrechina, Sinoformica, Sinotenuicapito, Sussudio, Wilsonia
Subfamily Formicinae references
Mayr, 1862 PDF: 651 (genera key); Mayr, 1865 PDF: 6 (diagnosis); Handlirsch, 1907: 859 (fossil taxa catalogue); Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 171 (catalogue); Emery, 1895l PDF: 772 (synoptic classification); Emery, 1896e PDF: 187 (genera key); Wheeler, 1910a PDF: 143 (diagnosis); Forel, 1912j PDF: 88 (tribes key); Forel, 1917 PDF: 248 (synoptic classification); Arnold, 1920a PDF: 551 (diagnosis); Forel, 1921c: 139 (diagnosis); Wheeler, 1922: 210, 691 (diagnosis, tribes key); Emery, 1925d PDF: 2 (diagnosis, tribe key, catalogue); Brown & Nutting, 1950 PDF: 127 (venation, phylogeny); Eisner, 1957 PDF: 465 (proventriculus morphology); Hung & Brown, 1966 PDF: 198 (gastric apex, structure); Bernard, 1967a PDF: 267 (diagnosis); Gotwald, 1969b PDF: 120 (mouthparts morphology); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1972a PDF: 41 (diagnosis); Brown, 1973b PDF: 169 (genera, distribution); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1976b PDF: 62 (larvae, review and synthesis); Snelling, 1981: 402 (synoptic classification); Taylor & Brown, 1985: 107 (Australia catalogue); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1985b PDF: 258 (synoptic classification); Billen, 1986b: 173 (Dufour's gland); Dlussky & Fedoseeva, 1988: 77 (synoptic classification); Hölldobler & Wilson, 1990: 9 (synoptic classification, genera keys); Agosti, 1991 PDF: 295 (genus group diagnoses); Shattuck, 1992b PDF: 201 (phylogeny); Baroni Urbani et al., 1992 PDF: 317 (phylogeny); Bolton, 1994: 42 (diagnosis, synoptic classification, genera keys); Bolton, 1995a PDF: 1039 (census); Bolton, 1995b: 11 (catalogue); Wenseleers et al., 1998: 121 (cloacal gland); Dlussky & Rasnitsyn, 2003 PDF: 417 (diagnosis for impression fossils); Bolton, 2003 PDF: 20, 93 (diagnosis, synopsis); Brady et al., 2006 PDF: 18173 (phylogeny); Moreau et al., 2006 PDF: 102 (phylogeny); Keller, 2011 PDF: 1 (morphology, phylogeny); Chen et al., 2013 PDF: 135 (phylogeny); LaPolla & Fisher, 2014b PDF: 39 (Prenolepis genus-group genera key); Blaimer et al., 2015 10.1186/s12862-015-0552-5 PDF: 6 (phylogeny, reclassification, synopsis); Boudinot, 2015 PDF: 51 (male diagnosis); Blaimer et al., 2015 10.1186/s12862-015-0552-5 PDF: 257 (phylogeny); Ward et al., 2016 PDF: 345 (phylogeny, reclassification, synopsis); Fisher & Bolton, 2016: 47 (diagnosis); Takahashi & Aiba, 2023 10.5575/geosoc.2023.0023 PDF: 573 (fossil males [misidentified to genus]).
Regional and national faunas with keys
Mayr, 1855 PDF: 299 (Austria); Mayr, 1861 PDF: 25 (Europe); Mayr, 1868b PDF: 25 (Baltic Amber); André, 1874b: 167 (Europe); Forel, 1874 PDF: 22 (Switzerland); Saunders, 1880 PDF: 203 (Britain); André, 1882b PDF: 126 (Europe and Algeria); Provancher, 1887: 225 (Canada); Cresson, 1887 PDF: 94 (U.S.A. genera); Nasonov, 1889: 50 (Russia); Forel, 1891c PDF: 8 (Madagascar genera); Lameere, 1892: 62 (Belgium); Forel, 1892k PDF: 220 (India and Sri Lanka); Bingham, 1903 PDF: 308 (India, Sri Lanka and Burma); Ruzsky, 1905b: 100 (Russian Empire); Wasmann, 1906 PDF: 7 (Luxemburg); Bondroit, 1910 PDF: 481 (Belgium); Wheeler, 1910a PDF: 560 (North America genera); Stitz, 1914 PDF: 80 (Central Europe); Gallardo, 1915 PDF: 35 (Argentina genera); Forel, 1915d: 45 (Switzerland); Donisthorpe, 1915f PDF: 184 (Britain); Emery, 1916a PDF: 216 (Italy); Wheeler, 1916r: 590 (U.S.A., Connecticut); Bondroit, 1918 PDF: 17 (France and Belgium); Arnold, 1920a PDF: 552 (South Africa); Kutter, 1920b: 134 (Switzerland); Soudek, 1922b PDF: 61 (Czechoslovakia); Lomnicki, 1925a PDF: 160 (Poland); Stärcke, 1926a PDF: 118, 146 (Netherlands); Karavaiev, 1927d: 273 (Ukraine); Donisthorpe, 1927c: 205 (Britain); Menozzi & Russo, 1930 PDF: 172 (Dominican Republic); Arnol'di, 1933a: 601 (Russia); Menozzi, 1933b PDF: 90 (Israel genera); Karavaiev, 1936: 173 (Ukraine); Smith, 1937 PDF: 865 (Puerto Rico); Stitz, 1939: 230 (Germany); Kratochvíl, 1941b PDF: 97 (Central Europe); Novák & Sadil, 1941 PDF: 97 (Central Europe); Cole, 1942 PDF: 373 (U.S.A., Utah); Smith, 1943e PDF: 309 (U.S.A., males); Buren, 1944a PDF: 292 (U.S.A., Iowa); Holgersen, 1943c PDF: 173 (Norway); Holgersen, 1944a PDF: 199 (Norway); Smith, 1947f PDF: 599 (U.S.A. genera); Van Boven, 1947b PDF: 181 (Belgium); Creighton, 1950a PDF: 355 (Nearctic); Kusnezov, 1956a PDF: 31 (Argentina); Brown, 1958h PDF: 42 (New Zealand); Boven, 1959: 11 (Netherlands); Gregg, 1963: 447 (U.S.A., Colorado); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1963: 160 (U.S.A., North Dakota); Collingwood, 1964b PDF: 104 (Britain); Bernard, 1967a PDF: 268 (Western Europe); Wilson & Taylor, 1967b PDF: 17 (Polynesia); Boven, 1970b: 26 (Netherlands); Kempf, 1972b PDF: 266 (Neotropical, synoptic classification); Bolton, 1973a PDF: 329 (West Africa genera); Bolton & Collingwood, 1975: 3 (Britain); Snelling & Hunt, 1976 PDF: 104 (Chile); Tarbinsky, 1976 PDF: 126 (Kyrgyzstan); Van Boven, 1977 PDF: 126 (Belgium); Kutter, 1977c PDF: 183 (Switzerland); Arnol'di & Dlussky, 1978: 548 (former European U.S.S.R.); Collingwood, 1978 PDF: 88 (Iberian Peninsula); Collingwood, 1979 PDF: 85 (Fennoscandia and Denmark); Greenslade, 1979: 32 (South Australia genera); Schembri & Collingwood, 1981 PDF: 436 (Malta); Prins, 1983 PDF: 8 (Southern Africa genera); Allred, 1982: 444 (U.S.A., Utah); Verhaeghe et al., 1984: 106 (Belgium genera); Baroni Urbani, 1984 PDF: 81 (Neotropical genera); Gösswald, 1985: 263 (Germany); Collingwood, 1985 PDF: 273 (Saudi Arabia); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1986g PDF: 58 (U.S.A., Nevada); Nilsson & Douwes, 1987: 68 (Norway); Agosti & Collingwood, 1987b PDF: 279 (Balkans); Dlussky et al., 1990 PDF: 124 (Turkmenistan); Kupyanskaya, 1990a: 162 (Far Eastern Russia); Morisita et al., 1991: 10 (Japan); Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 49 (Bulgaria); Shattuck, 1992b PDF: 199 (higher classification, phylogeny); Lattke, 1993: 150 (Neotropical genera); Arakelian, 1994 PDF: 76 (Armenia); Wu & Wang, 1995a: 125 (China genera); Kupyanskaya, 1995: 332 (Far Eastern Russia); Collingwood & Agosti, 1996 PDF: 361 (Saudi Arabia); Seifert, 1996b: 166 (Central Europe); Skinner & Allen, 1996: 41 (Britain); Collingwood & Prince, 1998: 21 (Portugal); Shattuck, 1999: 25, 86 (Australia genera, synopsis); Andersen, 2000: 68 (northern Australia genera); Zhou, 2001a PDF: 165 (China, Guangxi); Czechowski et al., 2002 PDF: 147 (Poland); Aktaç & Radchenko, 2002: 54 (Turkey genera); Yoshimura & Onoyama, 2002b PDF: 425 (Japan genera, males); Mackay & Mackay, 2002 PDF: 236 (U.S.A., New Mexico); Palacio & Fernández, 2003: 242 (Neotropical genera); Radchenko, 2005b PDF: 187 (North Korea); Coovert, 2005 PDF: 113 (U.S.A., Ohio); Clouse, 2007b PDF: 190 (Micronesia); Seifert, 2007: 150 (North and Central Europe); Terayama, 2009 PDF: 202 (Taiwan); Heterick, 2009 PDF: 30 (south-western Australia genera); Boer, 2010: 17 (Benelux); Czechowski et al., 2012: 351 (Poland); General & Alpert, 2012 PDF: 71 (Philippines genera key); Dlussky & Perfilieva, 2014 PDF: 433 (British Eocene species key); Baccaro et al., 2015 10.5281/zenodo.32912 PDF: 77, 176 (Brazil genera key, text); Radchenko, 2016: 266 (Ukraine); Fernández & Ortiz-Sepúlveda, 2019 PDF: 721 (Colombia); Heterick, 2021 10.18195/issn.0313-122x.86.2021.001-245 PDF: 26 (Western Australia genera key); Boudinot et al., 2022 10.1111/syen.12522 PDF: 120 (fossil tip phylogeny, divergence dating, morphological evolution); Borowiec & Salata, 2022 PDF: 53 (key to Greece genera).
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Africa: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Europa Island, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grande Glorieuse, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ile du Lys, Ivory Coast, Juan de Nova Island, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Macaronesia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Reunion, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tromelin Island, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
    Americas: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Galapagos Islands, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States, United States Virgin Islands, Uruguay, Venezuela
    Antarctica_region: Kerguelen Islands
    Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Borneo, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cyprus, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Krakatau Islands, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicobar Island, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
    Europe: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Balearic Islands, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Channel Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
    Oceania: Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Lord Howe Island, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Palmyra Atoll, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Afrotropical, Antarctica, Australasia, Indomalaya, Malagasy, Nearctic, Neotropical, Oceania, Palearctic


Formicine ants have a single node-like or scale-like petiole (postpetiole entirely lacking) and the apex of the abdomen has a circular or U-shaped opening, usually fringed with hairs (acidopore). A functional sting is absent, and defense is provided by the ejection of formic acid through the acidopore. If the acidopore is concealed by the pygidium and difficult to discern, then the antennal sockets are located well behind the posterior margin of the clypeus (cf. Dolichoderinae). In most formicines the eyes are well developed (ocelli may also be present), the antennal insertions are not concealed by the frontal carinae, and the promesonotal suture is present and flexible.


This is a cosmopolitan group, with about 100 species in California. These include mound-building Formica ants; carpenter ants in the genus Camponotus; and honeypot ants (Myrmecocystus).


Agosti (1991); Bolton (1994); Grimaldi & Agosti (2000); Shattuck (1992b).

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Formicinae   Clark, J., 1930, New Formicidae, with notes on some little-known species., Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 43, pp. 2-25: 11-12, (download) 11-12 6104
Formicinae   Collingwood, C. A., 1979, The Formicidae (Hymenoptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark., Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 8, pp. 1-174: 85-86, (download) 85-86 6175

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