Head: Worker head reddish-brown and wider than others of this group, but not as shiny. Male is uniform blackish to dull black-brown. Large eyes.
Antenna: Very long antenna base (scape), but shorter than F. pallidefulva.
Thorax: Thorax slightly shiny, very light reddish-yellow to reddish-brown. Base has some short hairs, more than F. pallidefulva. Queen with three distinct dark spots on base of thorax, one at center, one on each side which may appear as streaks – variable. No other Formica Queen has these marks. Male is uniform blackish to dull black-brown, hairy.
Wings: Wings with a faint brownish to smoky gray tint. F. pallidefulva has clear to reddish tint on wings.
Legs: Very long, especially the hind thigh (femur) which reaches almost to the end of the abdomen. (Shorter than F. pallidefulva which surpasses abdomen). Legs are light reddish-yellow, lower legs appear darker. Male legs reddish-brown.
Abdomen: Abdomen is not very shiny, darker reddish-brown (than head), becoming darker near tip. Segment 1 is dull, with appressed hairs; rest of abdomen less dull, but not as shiny as F. pallidefulva, due to more hairs. Male is uniform blackish to dull black-brown. Hairy.
Similar Species: Formica incerta has a slightly shorter antenna base (scape) than F. pallidefulva, slightly more hair on base of thorax, but very short; head slightly wider. Overall, F. incerta is lighter in color and less shiny.
Size: Workers 4.5 to5.5 mm.. Queens 7.5 to 9.5 mm.
Flight Time: Mid-July to mid-August – 2 to 3 weeks later than F. pallidefulva.
Habitat: Prairies and barren land often near grass clumps, dry open forest edges, grasslands and sandy lawns, golf courses. Not a forest dweller.
Food: Frequently found on Sumac flowers, sunflowers, partridge pea and other prairie plants. Tends and protects aphids and treehoppers for their honeydew. Also feeds on honeydew from the Hoptree Leafroller Agonopterix pteleae at Pt. Pelee Nat. Park, Leamington, Ontario.
Life Cycle: Nests, usually in bare soil or under rocks. Occasionally it will nest next to a clump of grass. Exposed nests in soil are covered with plant debris. About 2,000 ants per colony. Several queens may be present in one colony. New colonies are built by the workers.
Preyed on by slave-maker ant Polyergus lucidus in Ontario.
Anting – Flickers are fond of this species and catch the ants, rubbing their acid on their feathers before eating them.
Comments: Not listed for Essex or Kent county. Recorded by Trager, 2007 for Lambton county. Also in Livingston county, Michigan.
Synonyms: Emery 1893
Neoformica pallidefulva subsp. schaufussi var. incerta, Neoformica pallidefulva subsp. incerta, Neoformica pallidefulva, Neoformica schaufussi, Formica schaufussi
Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute, 2007, Vol. 80, pp. 622 to 625 and key 629 by Trager, et al.