This species was taxonomically confused as a variety of Formica fusca L. or as a synonym of F. rufibarbis until revised by Yarrow (1954). Formica cunicularia includes two variety names of F. fusca: vars. glebaria and rubescens given to workers which are not entirely black as is typical of F. fusca, but which have some red on the sides of the head (glebaria) or with reddish legs and thorax as well (rubescens). They are clearly not as shiny black when compared with F. fusca and are distinguished from F. rufibarbis by having not more than two (usually none) prothoracic hairs.
Southern England, becoming rare north of latitude 52°. Channel Islands.