Myrmica rubra, also known as the European fire ant or common red ant, is a species of ant of the genus Myrmica, found all over Europe and in some parts of North America and Asia. They are mainly red in colour, with slightly darker pigmentation on the head. The ants live under stones, fallen trees, and in soil. They are aggressive ants, often attacking rather than running away, and are equipped with a stinger, though lack the ability to spray formic acid like the genus Formica.
This is one of the most common and widespread Myrmica species of the Palaearctic. Occurs in the region stretching from Portugal to East Siberia (till Transbaikalia), and from northern Greece to the forest-tundra natural zone in the North. It is also currently invading Japan and North America where they are considered a nuisance as it is an invasive species.
Their colonies have a polygyne form, and can have up to one hundred queens per nest. They are also polydomous, with many nest sites per individual colony. These queens will have gathered together after their nuptial flight and will have formed a nest and laid their eggs in it. The queens can live up to fifteen years. Nuptial flights take place normally in late July to mid-August in Europe. Hundreds of young queens and males take to the air to mate together. Afterwards, the males die and the queens shed their wings to make a new colony. No nuptial flights have been witnessed yet from this species where it is living in North America.
They are very common in Europe and live in meadows and gardens. They live on a diet of honeydew excreted by aphids, and, being very aggressive like to eat many types of insect and other invertebrates. They will attack any creature that disturbs their nest, but are not as aggressive as the red imported fire ant. They also consume pollen, a phenomenon rarely documented in ants of the temperal zone.
It is very similar to M. ruginodis, and the differences are very hard to tell. However, Myrmica rubra is the commoner of the two.
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Diagnosis of worker among Antkey species. Worker castes monomorphic. Head shape ovoid. Antenna 12-segmented. Antennal club 4-segmented or indistinct. Antennal insertions at least partly covered by frontal lobes. Antennal scapes not conspicuously short; easily extended beyond eye level. Antennal insertion not surrounded by a raised sharp-edged ridge. Antennal scrobe lacking. Posterolateral corners of head unarmed, without spines. Eyes medium to large (greater than 6 facets), but distinctly less than half head length. Frontal lobes do not obscure face outline between mandible and eye. Lobes relatively far apart so that the posteromedian portion of the clypeus, where it projects between the frontal lobes, is much broader than one of the lobes. Frontal lobes narrow, distinctly longer than broad and tapering anteriorly. Mandibles triangular. Carinae on cephalic dorsum mostly longitudinal, occasionally branching, but rarely intersecting. Mesosoma with erect hairs. Pronotal spines absent. Propodeum armed with spines or teeth. Slope of mesosoma gradual. Waist 2-segmented. Petiole with a distinct and upright node; pedunculate; lacking large subpetiolar process postpetiole attached to lower surface of gaster. Postpetiole not swollen; in dorsal view not distinctly broader than long or distinctly wider than petiole.
Among myrmicine genera with introduced and commonly intercepted species, Myrmica might be confused for Tetramorium or Pheidole. In addition to having a 4-segmented antennal club, Myrmica can be separated from Tetramorium by the lack of a raised ridge encircling the antennal insertion, and from Pheidole by the gradually sloping (versus humped) mesosoma. Among other genera with introduced and commonly intercepted species with antennal clubs that can be interpreted as either 4-segmented or indistinct, Myrmica species can readily be separated from the attines (Acromyrmex and Atta) by the lack of pronotal spines, and from Cephalotes by the lack of frontal lobes that obscure the lateral outlines of the face. Myrmica rubra can be separated from M. specioides by the carinae on cephalic dorsum which are mostly longitudinal, occasionally branching but rarely intersecting (versus strongly reticulated); and also by the frontal lobes which are narrow, distinctly longer than broad and tapering anteriorly (versus short and broad, distinctly rounded anteriorly).
Smith, F.: The Bed Ant. B. M. Formica rubra, Linn . Syst. Nat. 963,7. De Geer, Ins. ii, 1093, 6, t. 43, f. I. Schrank, Ins. Aust. 415, 837. Oliv. Enc. Meth. vi. 493. Fabr. Ent. Syst. 353,14. Don. 14,87, t. 503. Latr. Hist. Nat. Fourm. 246, t. 10, f. 62. Myrmica rubra, Latr . Gen. Crust. Ins. 131. St. Farg. Hist. Nat. Ins. i. 181,2, t. 2, f. 3, . Formica minima rubra, Ray , Ins. 69. The Red Ant, Gould, Eng. Ants, ii. 3. Manica rubra, Jurine , 279. Huber, Fourm, 59. Hab. - Britain, Meadows, Banks, & c. Formica rubra, Linn . Faun. Suec. 1725. Myrmica caespitum , Zett. Ins. Lapp. 450,1, . Myrmica ruginodis, Nyland . Adno. Mon. Form. Boreal. 930, 3. Foerster, Hym. Stud. Form. 66, 36. The majority of specimens examined of this species possessing the Linnean characteristic " punctum nigrum, sub abdomine, " the Linnean name has been retained for it