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|Combination in Lasius: Mayr, 1861 PDF: 49; in Donisthorpea: Donisthorpe, 1915f: 212; in Formicina: Emery, 1916a PDF: 240; in Acanthomyops: Ruzsky, 1925b PDF: 44; in Lasius: Menozzi, 1921 PDF: 32; Müller, 1923b: 125; Emery, 1925d PDF: 230; Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, 1929a PDF: 27.|
|Subspecies of Lasius niger: Forel, 1874 PDF: 46; Mayr, 1886d PDF: 429; Forel, 1892j PDF: 307; Forel, 1904c PDF: 386; Wheeler, 1906h PDF: 322; Forel, 1913d PDF: 438; Forel, 1915d: 53; Emery, 1916a PDF: 240; Santschi, 1925g PDF: 349; Karavaiev, 1927d: 280; Menozzi, 1936b PDF: 305; Menozzi, 1939a PDF: 312.|
|Status as species: Saunders, 1880 PDF: 209; André, 1882b: 192; Nasonov, 1889: 22; Emery, 1897g: 238; Ruzsky, 1902d: 16; Emery, 1908e: 24; Bondroit, 1911a PDF: 11; Donisthorpe, 1915f: 212; Bondroit, 1918 PDF: 25; Stitz, 1939: 279; Novák & Sadil, 1941 PDF: 101; Röszler, 1942a: 53; Stärcke, 1944b: 153; Wilson, 1955a PDF: 77; Baroni Urbani, 1971c PDF: 200; Kutter, 1977c: 227; Collingwood, 1979 PDF: 97; Yamauchi, 1979 PDF: 156; Collingwood, 1982 PDF: 285; Kupyanskaya, 1990a: 218; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 237; Seifert, 1992b: 13.|
Lasius alienus is a dull brown species with lighter brown appendages, dense pubescence, and a truncated propodeum. Under the current taxonomic concept (Seifert, 1992; Wilson, 1955), L. alienus has one of the most widespread native ranges of any ant species, spanning the Holarctic from the west to east coast of North America through Western Europe and Central Asia east to Japan. Whether these widely separated populations truly represent a single species or are actually a complex of cryptic species is a question of some debate (Seifert, 1992;2009). The bi-continental distribution, perhaps together with the unfortunate specific epithet, has caused led some to consider L. alienus an alien species in North America (Maerz et al., 2009; McGlynn, 1999a). While the North American population may well prove to be a species distinct from the Eurasian populations, the preferred habitats, broad distribution and general biology suggest that its occurrence on the continent preceded the arrival of humans. The ants are monogynous, eat both dead and live insects, gather nectar from the floral and extrafloral nectaries of plants, tend honeydew-excreting insects, and foster and transport certain subterranean plant lice from the roots of one plant to another. These latter habits cause L. alienus to sometimes be considered an agricultural pest (Smith, 1965). The species is also considered a house pest in some areas, as it is tends agricultural pests and is prone to enter dwellings in search of food and shelter (Smith, 1965; Thompson, 1990). The name ‘Cornfield Ant’ is sometimes applied to Lasius species, including L. alienus, but its use is perhaps better confined to L. neoniger which was discovered to have a mutualistic relationship with corn root aphids.
Current range (Wilson, 1955): In Eurasia it is found from the British Isles and southern Fennoscandia south to Morocco-Tunisia, east through Lebanon and Iraq to Kashmir and southern China, and north into European Russia, central Asia, China, and Japan. Does not occur in the Balearics, Canaries, and Azores, or in Formosa. In North America it is found from southern British Columbia to Nova Scotia and south to the mountains of Durango, Mexico, in the west, and to northern Florida in the east.
Throughout SLO except S & NE
It is well recognized that the ecology of the North American and Eurasian populations of L. alienus differ considerably. In the Central Europe L. alienus is found in xerothermous, non-urban habitats of differing horizontal and vertical plant structure such as bare rocky areas, dense grasslands, orchards, sunny forest margins or warm woodlands with sparse canopy cover (Seifert, 1992). In North America alienus prefers well shaded woodland, where it nests in rotting logs and stumps and under stones (Wilson, 1955). Wilson argued that the ecological differences between the two populations were caused by competition with the congeneric species, but Seifert believes the North American population is a distinct species (pers. comm.).
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 8 (rarely 9) teeth including 3 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 = 0.75–0.97 mm. Head width = 0.68–0.92 mm. Scape length = 0.72–0.89 mm.
Lasius alienus specimens from Europe, which are commonly intercepted at US ports of entry, cannot be distinguished from North American specimens using any current methods. The species can be separated from introduced and other 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. alienus from the invasive L. neglectus (which is at risk of establishing in North America) is difficult. The mandibles of L. alienus have eight (or rarely nine) teeth, three of which are basal (versus seven or rarely eight teeth, two of which are basal in L. neglectus). Lasius alienus is also relatively larger (HW = 0.68–0.92 mm, versus 0.64–0.81 mm in L. neglectus), with generally longer antennal scapes (SL = 0.72–0.89 mm, versus 0.68–80 mm in L. neglectus). Lastly, L. alienus is monogynous while L. neglectus is polygynous. Additional morphometric characters used to separate the two species are available in Seifert (1992)and partially summarized in Espadaler & Bernal (2004), but beware that these characters are averaged across workers of entire colonies.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 1 times found in Unknown, 1 times found in Rocks (rocky-calcareous grasslands), 1 times found in Pinyon-cedar woodland, 1 times found in heathlands, 2 times found in Meadow, 1 times found in Mixed hardwood forest, 1 times found in Short grass prairie, 1 times found in Mixed canyon forest, 1 times found in Mixed transition forest, 1 times found in shortgrass prairie, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods or in the following microhabitats: 3 times Under rock, 3 times pitfall trap, 47 times search, 1 times Manual catch, 1 times log stage 4, 3 times winkler, 3 times log stage 3, 1 times under log, 6 times Bay Area Ant Survey (BAAS), 1 times leaf litter on river shore, 1 times log stage 2, ...
Elevations: collected from 5 - 3170 meters, 1329 meters average
Type specimens: syntype of Lasius niger americanus: casent0905677