Formica ravida & Polyergus breviceps
Sagehen Creek, California, USA

photograph © Alex Wild 2003

Mistaken identity? Formica ravida is a temporary social parasite of other species of Formica. Here a young queen has discovered a Polyergus nest, which she apparently perceived as a potential host Formica nest. Polyergus is a slave-raider that exists in mixed colonies with the same host Formica used by F. ravida, and it is possible that Polyergus' ability to fool its own host Formica extends to other species. 

This image is copyrighted by the photographer and cannot be used without permission. To obtain permission to use this image, please email Alex Wild. (alwild (at)  Most of the photographs on are reduced from their original size and compressed for more efficient web transmission.  In some cases, higher quality versions are available.

This image was captured with a Nikon Coolpix 995.