The Jet Ant - Lasius fuliginosus

By John Partridge

While out with Harry Green and John Meiklejohn looking for specimens to record on some road verges, I noticed streams of these black ants going up and down a tall oak tree. John recognised it as Lasius fuliginosus, but hadn't noticed it before. WBRC had records from seven places, this was the eighth, and I then found it on a large oak in Redditch's old cemetery. Putting the photograph on the web site has produced another record from Michael Southall in Crossway Green, who reports : "A colony of these ants has been in my garden every year I have lived here, since 1988. They seem to look after the aphids which are on a variety of trees and shrubs, none of which are oak."

The distribution maps in "Ants" (M.V. Brian - Collins New Naturalist) show it as mainly southern, south of the usual Severn-Wash line. The same book reports that they nest in the roots of old trees, and that the queen is incapable of founding a colony on her own - she makes use of an existing Lasius umbratus nest, which in turn would have been founded in a Lasius niger nest, so it is not surprising that the colonies are not that common- unless you know different - so please send in records.

The ant is fairly easily recognisable from the shiny jet black colour, together with its heart-shaped head if your eye-sight or lens is good enough. I can check out tentative records if you are not sure.

Jet Ant
Lasius fuliginosus on oak bark. Photo John Partridge

Jet Ant distribution

National distribution of Lasius fuliginosus as shown in Edwards R ed 1991 Provisional Atlas of the aculleate Hymenoptera in Britain and Ireland. Part 1 JNCC/ITE. Solid dots 1970-1995 records, open circles 1900-1969 records, crosses before 1900. This up-dates the map mentioned in the article above.

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