Lasius brunneus

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Lasius brunneus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Tribe: Lasiini
Genus: Lasius
Species: L. brunneus
Binomial name
Lasius brunneus
(Latreille, 1798)

Lasius brunneus casent0172717 profile 1.jpg

Lasius brunneus casent0172717 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


This species is widespread in Europe. It lives only where broad-leaved trees occur (Rigato & Toni, 2011).


Bicoloured with gaster dark brown contrasting with testaceous or pale reddish brown head and alitrunk. Pubescence and body hairs sparse. Occipital hairs restricted to median area of back of head only. Scapes and tibiae never with erect hairs. Back of head flat or feebly concave. Frontal triangle and frontal furrow distinct, ocelli small but always clearly visible. Length: 3.2-4.5 mm (Collingwood 1979).

A distinct species characterized by large males with intermediate sitkaensis-niger type mandibles and workers with short scapes and sparse pilosity. (Wilson 1955)

Keys including this Species


Spain to Crimea and West Himalayas, Italy to Sweden (Collingwood 1979).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Oriental Region: India, Pakistan.
Palaearctic Region: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France (type locality), Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iberian Peninsula, Iran, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Collingwood (1979) - This species nests in the interior of old trees, chiefly oak, but has also been recorded from hedgerows. It is fugitive and non-aggressive, rapidly dispersing on disturbance and because of its cryptic habits may be somewhat under-recorded. In Norway and Sweden it has frequently occurred nesting in the timbers of old houses and farm buildings, where its populous colonies may be difficult to dislodge. It chiefly tends tree aphids including the large bark feeding Stomaphis. Single queens initiate colonies in the crevices of old trees but may also be accepted back into the mother nest after the mating flight which occurs in June and early July.

Wilson (1955) - Most European authors agree that brunneus is a timid species adapted to living under the bark and in the wood of tree trunks. Donisthorpe (1927) found a large population of this species in the Windsor Forest of England limited to living trees, which the ants penetrated from the trunk up into the main branches and down into the roots. Various trees were inhabited, including oaks, elm, ash, beech, poplar and maple. It is not clear whether the workers carried on much excavation in the living wood, but this seems unlikely due to the rather unspectacular mandibular apparatus of the species. Forsslund (1949) found brunneus in oaks in dense, undisturbed woodland in several localities in the vicinity of Stockholm. The nests were mostly in dead wood, but occasional galleries penetrated living wood. Scherdlin (1909) found the species in Alsace nesting in the trunks of trees and timber of houses. Clausen (1938) observed a swarm of reproductives inside a house in Zurich. Gosswald (1932) states that in Germany brunneus is found as often under stones as in dead wood; since this observation is divergent from those of other authors, the possibility must be considered that he was erroneously including some alienus in his concept of brunneus.

Donisthorpe (ibid.), who has undertaken the most careful study of this species to date, found workers transporting and tending aphids of the genus Stomaphis. He also observed them carrying psoeids and other small insects to the nests, presumable for use as animal food.

brunneus appears to hold its nuptial flights earlier in the day and season than other European members of the subgenus. Donisthorpe (ibid.) encountered winged queens and males swarming over the trunk of an oak at noon on June 25, and Forsslund (ibid.) saw the same thing from noon to 1:30 p.m. during the period June 10-16.

Associations with other Organisms

Ratio of determined nematode species which were found in the heads of 114 specimens of Lasius brunneus. Total number and percentage are given (Kohler, 2012, Fig. 1).

Other Insects

This species is a host for the temporary parasites Lasius citrinus, Lasius fuliginosus and Lasius umbratus.

This ant has been associated with the butterfly Glaucopsyche alexis (Obregon et al. 2015).


This species is a host for the nematodes Diplogasteroides spengelii, Diploscapter sp., Halicephalobus similigaster, Koerneria histophora and Oscheius dolichurus (Kohler, 2012).





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

  • brunneus. Formica brunnea Latreille, 1798: 41 (w.q.) FRANCE. Mayr, 1855: 358 (m.); Lorite, Chica & Palomeque, 1998: 28 (k.). Combination in Lasius: Mayr, 1861: 50; in Donisthorpea: Donisthorpe, 1915d: 347; in Formicina: Emery, 1916b: 241; in Lasius: Müller, 1923: 127; in Acanthomyops: Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, 1927e: 188; in Lasius (Lasius): Wilson, 1955a: 47. Subspecies of niger: Forel, 1874: 47; Forel, 1892i: 307; Bondroit, 1910: 486; Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, 1927e: 188. Status as species: André, 1881b: 60; Dalla Torre, 1893: 182; Bondroit, 1912: 352; Forel, 1915d: 52; Bondroit, 1918: 26; Müller, 1923: 127; Karavaiev, 1927c: 279; Finzi, 1930d: 316; Menozzi, 1939a: 313; Wilson, 1955a: 47; Bernard, 1967: 358; Kutter, 1977c: 228; Collingwood, 1982: 285; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 238; Seifert, 1992b: 6. Senior synonym of pallida: Latreille, 1802c: 169; Wilson, 1955a: 47; of timida: Smith, F. 1858b: 7; Seifert, 1992b: 6; of alienobrunneus: Stärcke, 1944a: 157; Wilson, 1955a: 47; Kutter, 1977c: 14; Seifert, 1992b: 6; of nigrobrunneus: Wilson, 1955a: 47; Seifert, 1992b: 6. Current subspecies: nominal plus emarginatobrunneus.
  • pallida. Formica pallida Latreille, 1798: 41 (w.q.) FRANCE. Junior synonym of brunneus: Latreille, 1802c: 169. Unrecognisable taxon, incertae sedis in Lasius: Seifert, 1992b: 48. [Note. As the taxa brunneus and pallida were both described by Latreille and the synonymy was also established by Latreille, it seems reasonable to let it stand.]
  • timida. Formica timida Foerster, 1850a: 35 (w.) GERMANY. Schenck, 1852: 54 (q.m.). Junior synonym of brunneus: Smith, F. 1858b: 7; Seifert, 1992b: 6.
  • alienobrunneus. Lasius niger var. alienobrunneus Forel, 1874: 47 (w.) SWITZERLAND. Emery, 1916b: 249 (q.). Junior synonym of alienus: Dalla Torre, 1893: 182. Revived from synonymy as subspecies of brunneus: Ruzsky, 1902d: 17. Raised to species: Bingham, 1903: 340. Subspecies of brunneus: Forel, 1915d: 53; Karavaiev, 1927c: 279. Junior synonym of brunneus: Stärcke, 1944a: 157; Wilson, 1955a: 47; Kutter, 1977c: 14; Seifert, 1992b: 6.
  • nigrobrunneus. Acanthomyops (Dendrolasius) brunneus var. nigrobrunneus Donisthorpe, 1926b: 18 (w.) ITALY. Junior synonym of brunneus: Wilson, 1955a: 47.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Wilson (1955) - (1) Scape shorter relative to head width than in any other member of the subgenus; S1 82-91 in all European series measured; 94 in the himalayanus lectotype and in one specimen from Lahore, Pakistan, both small specimens.

(2) Small individuals (PW 0.50-0.57 mm.), when viewed in perfect full face, with the lateral margins of the eyes not reaching the lateral borders of the head; in Lasius niger and Lasius alienus they reach or exceed it.

(3) Mandibles proportionately shorter, more incurved, and inserted slightly closer to the midline, and head more massive relative to the alitrunk, than other Lasius s. s. (Pl. 1, Fig. 9). Occipital margin viewed in full face flat to feebly convex, as opposed to the typically concave outline of niger and alienus.

(4) Mandible with only two basal teeth in all of seven nest series examined for this character.

(5) Scapes and tibiae completely devoid of standing hairs and nearly devoid of hairs of any inclination. Body pilosity sparse; the curving portion of the occipital angles viewed in full face typically devoid of hairs, rarely with one or two; the latter condition occurs in other members of the subgenus but is highly exceptional.

(6) Alitrunk and petiole homogeneous light reddish brown, rarely medium reddish brown, contrasting against the dark brown gaster. The head usually the same color, occasionally darkening to medium or dark reddish brown to contrast against the alitrunk. (niger and alienus typically concolorous.)

Size range and dispersion probably about the same as in niger. In a sample of 29, with no more than 2 individuals per nest series, PW range 0.50-0.73 mm., mean with standard error 0.630 ± 0.012 mm., standard deviation 0.063 mm. ML less than EW. Anterior margin of median clypeal lobe and structure of the mandibular basal angle essentially as in the niger complex. The greater massiveness of the alitrunk in this species can perhaps best be expressed as a ratio of alitrunk length to the maximum head depth measured perpendicular to the long axis of the head. Several medium-sized brunneus gave such a ratio of 67-69, whereas alienus of comparable size ranged between 70 and 76. Viewed from the side the propodeal angle tends to be more acute and the declivitous face of the propodeum tends to be longer relative to the dorsal face than in other Lasius s. s. The dorsal margin of the petiole was invariably concave in all series examined; occasionally the concavity is so deep as to be nearly semicircular.


Wilson (1955) - (1) SI low; 68-71 in 9 individuals from 6 localities having HW 1.49-1.64 mm., and 76 in a smaller individual with HW 1.39 mm,

(2) Pilosity and mandibular dentition as in worker.

(3) Frontal suture well marked, set in the middle of a conspicuous broad, shallow trough.

(4) Color distinctive; body uniformly dark reddish brown, appendages a contrasting yellowish brown.

(5) Fore wings infumated in the inner and upper thirds.


Wilson (1955) - (1) Larger than other members of the subgenus, HW 1.04-1.10 mm.

(2) Mandibles of a type intermediate between Lasius pallitarsis and Lasius niger: there is a well marked subapical cleft as in sitkaensis, but it is set more posteriorly than in this primitive species; the basal angle is broadly rounded and the masticatory border lacks denticles, both of which characters are associated with the more advanced niger type.

(3) Frontal suture conspicuous as in queen.

(4) The entire dorsal petiolar margin involved in a deep concavity. In a series from Windsor Forest, Berks, England, secondary lateral convexities are present within this concavity.

(5) Parameres shorter relative to HW than in other members of the subgenus.

SI of several individuals measured 60-64, overlapping part of range of variation of niger (q. v.). ML 0.15-0.17 mm., overlapping part of ranges of niger and emarqinatus.


  • n = 15, karyotype = 1M+3ST+11T (Spain) (Lorite et al., 1998a; Lorite et al., 2002b) (Karyotype n=16 was reported in Lorite et al., 2002b and suggested that it is due B-chromosome).


  • Alexander, K. N. A. 2005. Lasius brunneus (Latreille) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Monmouthshire. British Journal of Entomology and Natural History 18:162. [2005-09
  • Alexander, K. N. A.; Taylor, A. 1998. The Severn Vale, a national stronghold for Lasius brunneus (Latreille) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). British Journal of Entomology and Natural History 10:217-219. [1998-03]
  • André, E. 1881b. [Untitled. Introduced by: "M. Ernest André, de Gray, adresse les descriptions de trois nouvelles espèces de Fourmis".]. Bull. Bimens. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 1881: 60-62 (page 60, Status as species)
  • Atanassov, N.; Dlussky, G. M. 1992. Fauna of Bulgaria. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Fauna Bûlg. 22: 1-310 (page 238, Status as species)
  • Bernard, F. 1967a [1968]. Faune de l'Europe et du Bassin Méditerranéen. 3. Les fourmis (Hymenoptera Formicidae) d'Europe occidentale et septentrionale. Paris: Masson, 411 pp. (page 358, Status as species)
  • Bondroit, J. 1910 [1909]. Les fourmis de Belgique. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 53: 479-500 (page 486, Race/subspecies of niger)
  • Bondroit, J. 1912. Fourmis de Hautes-Fagnes. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Belg. 56: 351-352 (page 352, Status as species)
  • Bondroit, J. 1918. Les fourmis de France et de Belgique. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 87: 1-174 (page 26, Status as species)
  • Collingwood, C. A. 1979. The Formicidae (Hymenoptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark. Fauna Entomol. Scand. 8:1-174.
  • Collingwood, C. A. 1982. Himalayan ants of the genus Lasius (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Syst. Entomol. 7: 283-296 (page 285, Status as species)
  • Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 182, Status as species)
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1915f. British ants, their life-history and classification. Plymouth: Brendon & Son Ltd., xv + 379 pp. (page 347, Combination in Donisthorpea)
  • Emery, C. 1916a [1915]. Fauna entomologica italiana. I. Hymenoptera.-Formicidae. Bull. Soc. Entomol. Ital. 47: 79-275 (page 241, Combination in Formicina)
  • Finzi, B. 1930d. Zoologische Forschungsreise nach den Jonischen Inseln und dem Peloponnes. XII. Teil. Die Ameisen der Jonischen Inseln. Sitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Wien Math.-Naturwiss. Kl. Abt. I 139: 309-319 (page 316, Status as species)
  • Forel, A. 1874. Les fourmis de la Suisse. Systématique, notices anatomiques et physiologiques, architecture, distribution géographique, nouvelles expériences et observations de moeurs. Neue Denkschr. Allg. Schweiz. Ges. Gesammten Naturwiss. 26: 1-452 (page 47, Race/subspecies of niger)
  • Forel, A. 1892j. Die Ameisenfauna Bulgariens. (Nebst biologischen Beobachtungen.). Verh. K-K. Zool.-Bot. Ges. Wien 42: 305-318 (page 307, Race/subspecies of niger)
  • Forel, A. 1915d. Fauna insectorum helvetiae. Hymenoptera. Formicidae. Die Ameisen der Schweiz. Mitt. Schweiz. Entomol. Ges. 12(B Beilage: 1-77 (page 52, Status as species)
  • Karavaiev, V. 1927d. The ant fauna of Ukraine. Zb. Prats Zool. Muz. 2:1-52 [= Tr. Ukr. Akad. Nauk Fiz.-Mat. Vidd. 4:247-296] (page 279, Status as species)
  • Kohler, A. 2012. Nematodes in the heads of ants associated with sap flux and rotten wood. Nematology 14(2), 191-198 (doi:10.1163/138855411X584142).
  • Kutter, H. 1977c. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Insecta Helv. Fauna 6: 1-298 (page 228, Status as species; page 14, Senior synonym of alienobrunneus)
  • Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, N. N. 1927e. Contributions to the knowledge of the myrmecology of Turkestan. III. Rus. Entomol. Obozr. 21: 186-196 (page 188, Combination in Acanthomyops, Race/subspecies of niger)
  • Latreille, P. A. 1798. Essai sur l'histoire des fourmis de la France. Brive: F. Bourdeaux, 50 pp. (page 41, worker, queen described)
  • Latreille, P. A. 1802b. Histoire naturelle générale et particulière des Crustacés et des insectes. Tome 3. Familles naturelles des genres. Paris: F. Dufart, xii + 467 pp. (page 169, Senior synonym of pallida)
  • Lorite, P.; Chica, E.; Palomeque, T. 1996. Cytogenetic studies of ant Linepithema humile Shattuck [sic] (= Iridomyrmex humilis Mayr) in European populations. Caryologia 49: 199-205 (page 28, karyotype described)
  • Mayr, G. 1855. Formicina austriaca. Beschreibung der bisher im österreichischen Kaiserstaate aufgefundenen Ameisen, nebst Hinzufügung jener in Deutschland, in der Schweiz und in Italien vorkommenden Arten. Verh. Zool.-Bot. Ver. Wien 5: 273-478 (page 358, male described)
  • Mayr, G. 1861. Die europäischen Formiciden. Nach der analytischen Methode bearbeitet. Wien: C. Gerolds Sohn, 80 pp. (page 50, Combination in Lasius)
  • Menozzi, C. 1939a. Formiche dell'Himalaya e del Karakorum raccolte dalla Spedizione italiana comandata da S. A. R. il Duca di Spoleto (1929). Atti Soc. Ital. Sci. Nat. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. Milano 78: 285-345 (page 313, Status as species)
  • Müller, G. 1923b. Le formiche della Venezia Guilia e della Dalmazia. Boll. Soc. Adriat. Sci. Nat. Trieste 28: 11-180 (page 127, Combination in Lasius, Status as species)
  • Obregon, R., M. R. Shaw, J. Fernandez-Haeger, and D. Jordano. 2015. Parasitoid and ant interactions of some Iberian butterflies (Insecta: Lepidoptera). Shilap-Revista De Lepidopterologia. 43:439-454.
  • Rigato, F.; Toni, I. 2011. Short notes 21. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Pp. 873-882 in: Nardi, G.; Whitmore, D.; Bardiani, M.; Birtele, D.; Mason, F.; Spada, L.; Cerretti, P. (eds.) 2011. Biodiversity of Marganai and Montimannu (Sardinia). Research in the framework of the ICP Forests network. Conservazione Habitat Invertebrati, 5. Sommacampagna, Verona: Cierre Edizioni, 896 pp.
  • Seifert, B. 1992b. A taxonomic revision of the Palaearctic members of the ant subgenus Lasius s.str. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Abh. Ber. Naturkundemus. Görlitz 66(5): 1-67 (page 6, Status as species, Senior synonym of timida, Senior synonym of alienobrunneus, Senior synonym of nigrobrunneus)
  • Smith, F. 1858a. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 7, Senior synonym of timida)
  • Stärcke, A. 1944b. Retouches sur quelques fourmis d'Europe. III. Autres Lasius. Entomol. Ber. (Amst.) 11: 153-158 (page 157, Senior synonym of alienobrunneus)
  • Wilson, E. O. 1955a. A monographic revision of the ant genus Lasius. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 113: 1-201 (page 47, Combination in Lasius (Lasius), Status as species, Senior synonym of pallida, Senior synonym of alienobrunneus, Senior synonym of nigrobrunneus)