Lasius neglectus is a small to mid-sized (2.5–3.5 mm) dull brown species with lighter brown appendages, dense pubescence, and a truncated propodeum. The species, which is believed to be native to Asia Minor, has been spreading across Europe for at least the past 40 years, but prior to its formal description (van Loon et al., 1990), L. neglectus had been treated as its two close relatives, L. alienus and L. turcicus Santschi (Seifert, 2000). The species, described from Budapest, is now known from other locations within Hungary and from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Rumania, Spain, Turkey, and the Canary Islands (Espadaler & Bernal, 2003;2004; Seifert, 2000). Lasius neglectus is likely present in other European cities, but is yet to reach densities high enough to cause reporting and identification (Harris et al., 2005). In addition to dominating resources to the likely detriment of native species, L. neglectus is also known to cause damage to vegetation and occupy buildings. The temperate habitat and invasive characteristics demonstrated by L. neglectus suggest it could become widespread in North America if a population becomes established. For a comprehensive fact sheet detailing the history, biology, pest significance of L. neglectus, along with an exemplary risk analysis for establishment in New Zealand, the reader is referred to Harris et al. (2005).
Lasius neglectus is unicolonial and polygynous, allowing it to form supercolonies of approximately 35,000 queens and 100 million workers across 14 ha (Espadaler & Bernal, 2004; Seifert, 2010). Populations studied in Spain showed strong activity when temperatures reached 20°C from early March to late November (Espadaler & Bernal, 2004). Aphid honeydew from a wide variety of aphid species (van Loon et al., 1990)is a primary food resource for L. neglectus, and the species is effective at dominating productive areas by displacing competing ant species (Espadaler & Bernal, 2004). Nesting sites include soil beneath stones, temporal refuges with aphids at the base of herbs, in grassy slopes, among tree roots, in apparently barren soil, and rubbish (Espadaler & Bernal, 2004; Harris et al., 2005). In its introduced range, L. neglectus is most closely associated with urban areas and disturbed habitats. The two most common means of dispersal for the species are human-assisted transport and colony budding. Lasius neglectus is not known to make nuptial flights, and it is assumed to practice intranidal mating (Seifert, 2000). Queen morphology and physiological state at maturity suggest that L. neglectus is intermediate between a monogyne independent colony forming species and other polygyne invasive tramp ant species (Espadaler & Rey, 2001).
Lasius neglectus is likely to prove a significant pest with regards to the native environment, agriculture and human habitations. Little is known about the effects L. neglectus has on other ants, but there is some evidence that it displaces other species that might compete for food or nesting resources (Dekoninck et al., 2002; Espadaler & Bernal, 2004; Espadaler & Rey, 2001; Tartally, 2000). The effects of aphid tending is very detrimental to trees and crops (Espadaler & Bernal, 2004; Espadaler & Rey, 2001; van Loon et al., 1990). The ants are also attracted to electrical fields and cause damage to electrical devices (Espadaler & Bernal, 2004).
Lasius neglectus Van Loon HNS , Boomsma & Andrasfalvy, 1990 *
Det. Schultz, Seifert
PAKNIA & KAMI (2007), ZMGU
Native range. Asia Minor.
Introduced range. Includes: Budapest, is now known from other locations within Hungary and from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Rumania, Spain, Turkey, and the Canary Islands.
Diagnosis among workers of introduced and commonly intercepted ants in the United States. Worker caste monomorphic. Antenna 12-segmented. Antennal club indistinct. Antennal scape length less than 1.5x head length. Eyes medium-sized (greater than 5 facets). Three distinct ocelli present. Mandibles with 7 (rarely 8) teeth including 2 basal teeth. Promesonotum separated from propodeum by metanotal groove, but not by a deep and broad concavity. Propodeum and petiolar node both lack a pair of short teeth. Propodeum lacking posteriorly projecting protrusion. Propodeal declivity at least twice length of propodeal dorsum. Metapleuron with a distinct gland orifice. Waist 1-segmented. Petiole upright and not appearing flattened. Gaster armed with acidopore. Distinct constriction not visible between abdominal segments 3+4. Erect hairs present on mesosoma, but not long thick and produced in pairs. Head length = 0.72–0.88 mm. Head width = 0.64–0.81 mm. Scape length = 0.68–0.80 mm.
Lasius neglectus can be separated from introduced species in the United States and commonly intercepted formicine genera by the combination of the following characters: (1) antenna 12-segmented; (2) monomorphic worker caste; (3) three distinct ocelli; (4) metapleural gland present; and (5) propodeal declivity at least twice length of propodeal dorsum. Separating L. neglectus from the native L. alienus is difficult. The mandibles of L. neglectus have seven or rarely eight teeth, two of which are basal (versus eight (or rarely nine) teeth, three of which are basal in L. alienus). Lasius neglectus is also relatively smaller (HW = 0.64–0.81 mm, versus 0.68–0.92 mm in L. alienus), with generally longer antennal scapes (SL = 0.68–80 mm, versus 0.72–0.89 mm in L. alienus). Lastly, L. neglectus is polygynous while L. alienus is polygynous. Additional morphometric characters used to separate the two species are available in Seifert (1992)and summarized in Espadaler & Bernal (2004), but beware that these characters are averaged across workers of entire colonies.
(Map 55): Eastern Danubian Plain: Senokos vill., Dobrich ( Espadaler et al. 2007 ); Northern Black Sea coast: Albena [ Seifert 1992 (as Lasius turcicus ), 2000a ], Kranevo, Balchik, Kavarna, Varna municipality ( Espadaler et al. 2007 ).
Life History and Behavior
L. neglectus is unicolonial and polygynous. In this species, no mating flight seems to occur. Gynes probably mate inside the nest and most often disperse by budding, although independent colony founding has been observed in the laboratory. Interestingly, L. neglectus gynes have a physiological status intermediary between dependent and independent colony founding ants. This intermediary state could thus allow this ant to have a large number of possibilities for colony founding.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Lasius neglectus
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lasius neglectus
Public Records: 18
Specimens with Barcodes: 18
Species With Barcodes: 1
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
L. neglectus has a negative impact on native ant species in Hungary, notably by excluding other species from colony centers. The invasive garden ant has been shown to be highly aggressive against native Lasius ants in Spain, who despite their bigger size show avoidance behavior much more often than L. neglectus.
Concerning the impact of the invasive ant on local insects in Spain comparatively to native ants, studies have shown that a higher percentage of native Lasius grandis workers carry insects, but the repercussions on the insect fauna could be similar for the invasive ant, as they are in greater number. Specifically, no difference was found between the abundance of insects on trees visited by L. neglectus and trees visited by L. grandis, except for Coccinellidae larvae, which were 76% less abundant in L. neglectus trees that in L. grandis visited trees.
L. neglectus has also been reported to indirectly harm local vegetation, hypothetically by putting a high pressure on plants due to a heavy aphid honeydew consumption. Indeed, recent studies in Spain have shown that due to their smaller size, L. neglectus workers collect less honeydew per ant that native L. grandis, but collect more honeydew per tree, because of their large number. Aphids excretion frequency has also been reported to be higher when in presence of L. neglectus than when in presence of L. grandis. However, a stronger negative impact on holm oak trees has not been confirmed, as acorn production, seedling emergency and quality did not differ between trees occupied by the invasive or by the native ant.
Finally, L. neglectus has been reported to be attracted by electrical equipment, and damaging it, by creating short circuits for example in alarms or swimming pool filters.
Lasius neglectus is a polygynous, sometimes invasive, ant of the genus Lasius. The ant was identified in 1990 after establishing a colony in Budapest, Hungary. Superficially, they are similar in appearance to the common black garden ant, Lasius niger, but have significantly different behavioural patterns, particularly in the social structure within colonies.
Lasius neglectus occupies 'super colonies', systems of interconnected nests with many queens, estimated to be over 35,500 in some colonies. The queens, instead of moving to a new nest to start a new colony, will mate within the existing colony. Unlike most ant species, queens mate underground and are incapable of flight. As the occupants of these colonies are related, they do not demonstrate territorial aggression.
Lasius neglectus does not build elaborate nests, instead, the species usually nests under flat stones, in the topsoil under leaf litter and even in trash piles. In human habitats, L. neglectus tends to nest inside electrical devices. Like other invasive ant species, L. neglectus relies on honeydew for its main food source and, but for a single instance in a grassland without trees in Tbilisi, known food sources come exclusively from insect prey and honeydew-producing insects on trees.
Lasius neglectus can outnumber native European varieties of ant by 10 to 100 times in infested gardens and, as such, has been considered a pest in many central European countries. The species has spread as far as Jena in Germany, Ghent in Belgium and Warsaw in Poland. A colony has been reported in Gloucestershire in England, where it demonstrates an affinity for outdoor electrical fittings.
Similar to many other invasive species, L. neglectus has so far only been found to infest disturbed urban habitats such as parks and gardens, where it eradicates most native ants and other insect populations while damaging trees because of the massive aphid cultures that it maintains. Whereas most other known pest ants require warm temperatures to thrive, L. neglectus can survive winters with extended frost periods, so that further dispersal into temperate climatic zones seems unavoidable. Asia Minor has been suggested as the most likely region of origin of L. neglectus as it co-occurs here with its non-invasive sister-species L. turcicus.
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- Cremer, S.; Ugelvig, L. V.; Drijfhout, F. P.; Schlick-Steiner, B. C.; Steiner, F. M.; Seifert, B.; Hughes, D. P.; Schulz, A.; Petersen, K. S.; Konrad, H.; Stauffer, C.; Kiran, K.; Espadaler, X.; d'Ettorre, P.; Aktaç, N.; Eilenberg, J. R.; Jones, G. R.; Nash, D. R.; Pedersen, J. S.; Boomsma, J. J. (2008). "The Evolution of Invasiveness in Garden Ants". In Svensson, Erik I. PLoS ONE 3 (12): e3838. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003838. PMC 2585788. PMID 19050762.
- This article incorporates text from a scholarly publication published under a copyright license that allows anyone to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the materials in any form for any purpose: Cremer, S.; Ugelvig, L. V.; Drijfhout, F. P.; Schlick-Steiner, B. C.; Steiner, F. M.; Seifert, B.; Hughes, D. P.; Schulz, A.; Petersen, K. S.; Konrad, H.; Stauffer, C.; Kiran, K.; Espadaler, X.; d'Ettorre, P.; Aktaç, N.; Eilenberg, J. R.; Jones, G. R.; Nash, D. R.; Pedersen, J. S.; Boomsma, J. J. (2008). "The Evolution of Invasiveness in Garden Ants". In Svensson, Erik I. PLoS ONE 3 (12): e3838. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003838. PMC 2585788. PMID 19050762. Please check the source for the exact licensing terms.
- This article incorporates text from a scholarly publication published under a copyright license that allows anyone to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the materials in any form for any purpose: Paris, C.; Espadaler, X. (2012). "Foraging Activity of Native Ants on Trees in Forest Fragments Colonized by the Invasive Ant Lasius neglectus". Psyche: A Journal of Entomology 2012: 1. doi:10.1155/2012/261316. Please check the source for the exact licensing terms.
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