Annotated Checklist of the Ants on the Idaho National Laboratory (Hymenoptera:Formicidae)

Investigators and Affiliations

William H. Clark, Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History, Albertson College of Idaho, Caldwell, ID
Paul E. Blom, Division of Entomology, Dept. of Plant, Soil, and Entomological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, (Present affiliation: USDA-ARS, Prosser, WA.)

Funding Sources

U.S. Department of Energy Idaho Operations Office
Orma J. Museum of Natural History, Albertson College of Idaho.
W. Clark and P. Blom

Background and Accomplishments through 2006

The need for basic information on INLís ant fauna became evident during the course of other waste management-related research at the INL. With this realization an annotated survey of INL ants was initiated in 1986. The resulting field and laboratory work spanned 20 years and culminated in a monograph published in Sociobiology (Clark, W.H., and P.E. Blom. 2007).


Many invertebrates, including ants, tunnel and nest in soils. Because of these habits they are potentially important at the INL where they may tunnel into and disturb buried waste. Ants are very important components of the desert ecosystem based on their distribution, habitat preferences, food habits, and relative abundance. For these reasons the ant taxa present at the INL were investigated. A cursory survey of the ants at the site was published in 1971 which reported 22 species. A more thorough examination was needed.

Our research in the northeastern portion of the Snake River Plain at the INL from 1986 to 1996 produced thousands of ant collections, of which 1115 (mostly nest series) are used in this manuscript. These collections contained 46 species in 19 genera from three subfamilies. This more than doubles the number of the species previously reported from the INL. Of the ant species found, 18 (39 percent) are considered rare on the site, 12 (26 percent) are present but not common, 11 (24 percent) are common, and only five (11 percent) are found to be abundant. All but three ant genera known for the state of Idaho can be found at the INL. Additionally, four species collected during this research are reported from Idaho for the first time: Liometopum luctuosum, Formica gynocrates, Formica spatulata, and Myrmica sp. (a new species).

Formicoxenus diversipilosus was only found within the nests of the Formica rufa group, Formica planipilis and Formica subnitens. These represent new host records for the species. Formicoxenus hirticornis was found nesting with the thatch ants: Formica planipilis, Formica ciliata, Formica laeviceps, and Formica subnitens, all of which represent new host records for this species.

The goal of this investigation is to provide a more thorough survey of the INL ant fauna for both biodiversity and waste management purposes. The objectives were: (1) to produce an updated checklist of the INL ants, (2) to summarize the pertinent published information and literature on the INL ants, and (3) to present keys, distribution maps, illustrations, and ecological information on each taxon. This information should allow for the identification of ants encountered at the site and be of use to ecologists and other scientists working at the site. Much new information concerning the biology, ecology, and natural history of many of the species found on INL is presented. The literature on the ants of the INL is summarized. This work paves the way for more detailed ecological studies of the INL ant fauna.


Clark, W.H., and P.E. Blom. 2007. Annotated checklist of the ants of the Idaho National Laboratory (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 49(2):1-117.


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