Lasius brevicornis

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Lasius brevicornis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Lasiini
Genus: Lasius
Species: L. brevicornis
Binomial name
Lasius brevicornis
Emery, 1893

Lasius flavus casent0005406 profile 1.jpg

Lasius flavus casent0005406 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


A common and wide ranging species that exhibits regional variation in its nesting and habitat preferences. In New England, it is a subterranean ant which nests under rocks in open habitats and dry woodlands (Ellison et al., 2012). It is a generalist predator that also tends root aphids and feeds on their honeydew. Mating flights occur in late August and early September.

At a Glance • Polygynous  


Photo Gallery

  • Worker from Boxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Tom Murray.


This is a yellow or pale brown species, with a small eye (fewer than 35 ommatidia). The apex of the petiole is either straight or slightly concave. The hairs on the scapes and tibiae are decumbent or appressed (possibly 1 or 2 suberect hairs). The last segment of the maxillary palp is about as long (or shorter) than the penultimate segment. (United States: Mackay and Mackay 2002)

Ellison et al., (2012) - This is one of two New England species of Lasius with very tiny eyes; the other is Lasius nearcticus. These two species nest in distinct habitats – L. flavus in open, dry habitats and L. nearcticus in moist forests – but they can be distinguished reliably only by examining their maxillary palps at 25 – 50× magnification under a dissecting microscope. In L. flavus, the last (terminal) segment of the palp is shorter than the next-to-last (penultimate) segment, whereas in L. nearcticus, the terminal segment of the palp is longer than the penultimate segment.

Keys including this Species


This species is abundant in the eastern United States, but it is rare in the Gulf Coast states. It has been collected occasionally in the northern Rocky Mountains, the Chiricahua Mountains of southeast Arizona, and the Pacific Northwest. It is widespread in New England (Ellison et al., 2012).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: Canada, United States (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


United States

In New Mexico (Mackay and Mackay 2002) this species nests under stones. Reproductives were found in the nest in mid August. It tends aphids, especially on the roots of grasses. Occurs in grasslands and mixed deciduous forest to ponderosa pine-riparian.

Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • brevicornis. Lasius brevicornis Emery, 1893i: 639, pl. 22, fig. 22 (w.q.m.) U.S.A.
    • [Note: type-locality designated as District of Columbia by Creighton, 1950a: 421.]
    • Combination in Lasius (Formicina): Wheeler, W.M. 1916k: 172; Wheeler, W.M. 1917i: 463.
    • Combination in Lasius (Lasius): Emery, 1925b: 231.
    • Junior synonym of flavus: Wilson, 1955a: 112; Smith, D.R. 1979: 1437.
    • Status as species: Wheeler, W.M. 1904e: 305; Wheeler, W.M. 1905f: 396; Wheeler, W.M. 1906b: 13; Wheeler, W.M. 1908f: 623; Wheeler, W.M. 1910g: 569; Wheeler, W.M. 1916k: 172; Wheeler, W.M. 1916m: 593; Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 526; Wheeler, W.M. 1917i: 463; Emery, 1925b: 231; Smith, M.R. 1930a: 5; Smith, M.R. 1931a: 23; Wheeler, W.M. 1932a: 17; Menozzi, 1932b: 311; Cole, 1936a: 37; Wing, 1939: 164; Wesson, L.G. & Wesson, R.G. 1940: 100; Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, E.W. 1944: 252; Buren, 1944a: 296; Creighton, 1950a: 421; Smith, M.R. 1951a: 851; Schar et al., 2018: 6.
  • microps. Lasius (Formicina) brevicornis var. microps Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 526 (w.) U.S.A.
    • Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1953c: 152 (l.).
    • Combination in L. (Chthonolasius): Creighton, 1950a: 422.
    • Subspecies of brevicornis: Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, E.W. 1944: 253
    • Subspecies of flavus: Creighton, 1950a: 422.
    • Junior synonym of flavus: Wilson, 1955a: 112.
    • Junior synonym of brevicornis: Schar et al., 2018: 6.
  • claripennis. Lasius (Formicina) flavus subsp. claripennis Wheeler, W.M. 1917a: 527 (w.q.m.) CANADA.
    • Junior synonym of microps: Creighton, 1950a: 422.
    • Junior synonym of brevicornis: Schar et al., 2018: 6.
  • helvus. Lasius helvus Cook, 1953: 326, figs. (w.) U.S.A.
    • [Also spelled helveolus, on p. 327.]
    • Junior synonym of flavus: Wilson, 1955a: 113.
    • Junior synonym of brevicornis: Schar et al., 2018: 6.

Taxonomic Notes

Schar et al. (2018): Lasius brevicornis Emery, 1893 stat. nov. was treated as a full species until it was placed in synonymy with La. flavus by Wilson (1955). This study supports its removal from synonymy and treatment as a full species. The junior synonyms Lasius brevicornis microps Wheeler, 1917, Lasius flavus claripennis Wheeler, 1917 and Lasius helvus Cook, 1953 should be transferred from synonymy with Lasius flavus and treated as junior synonyms of Lasius brevicornis.