Worcestershire Record No. 4 May 1998 p. 12


By Harry Green

Alexander & Taylor (1998) have drawn attention to the fact that this ant is more widespread in the Severn Vale than previously known. As far as Worcestershire is concerned this is an ant we need to look for.

The Brown Ant, then called Acanthomyops brunneus, was first found by Dr N H Joy (of beetle fame) in Britain at Theale in Berkshire on 21st January 1923 (Donisthorpe 1927). On 20th June 1923 Joy and Donisthorpe visited the area and found another colony and later both observers and others found them in Windsor Park. Subsequently the Thames Valley was found to be a stronghold for the species and it was not until the 1960s that it was reported from the Severn Vale in Gloucestershire and south Worcestershire. Alexander & Taylor (1998) now report the ant from many 10x10km squares in the Severn Valley in Gloucestershire, together with two new records from Worcestershire at Croome Park in 1996 and Hanbury Park in 1984, and a record from Shropshire. It seems likely that the species has been under-recorded rather than showing a recent extension of range.

The Brown Ant lives in trees inhabiting extensive areas in either roots, trunk or high branches, and it can be found in holes, hollow parts and under bark. It is found in old oaks, old hawthorns, and many other species. Alexander & Taylor (1998) report that old orchards are used with many of the trees containing colonies. The suitability of tree a for nests is probably more important than the tree species.

A long list of other invertebrates have been reported from Brown Ants' nests, especially beetles, and another ant Leptothorax nylanderi, also an under-recorded tree-dwelling species, may have some sort of association with Lasius brunneus.

So.......when grubbing about inside old rotten trees or under bark for invertebrates look for ants. Identification may prove difficult but the Naturalists' Handbook by Skinner & Allen (1996) contains helpful keys. Also the Royal Entomological Society key by Bolton & Collingwood (1975) is now available new. The Collins New Naturalist volumes by Morley (1953) and Brian (1977) are helpful, and its always worth reading Donisthorpe's (1927) magnum opus if you can get hold of a copy!


Alexander KNA & Taylor A (1998) The Severn Vale, a national stronghold for Lasius brunneus (Latreille) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Brit J Ent Nat Hist 10:217-219.
Bolton B & Collingwood CA (1975) Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects Vol VI part 3(c).
Royal Entomological Society of London.
Brian, MV (1977) Ants. New Naturalist Series. Collins.
Donisthorpe HStJK (1927) British Ants, their life-history and classification. Routledge. London.
Morley, D Wragge (1953) Ants. Collins. London. New Naturalist special volume.
Skinner GJ & Allen GW (1996) Ants. Naturalists' Handbook 24. Richmond Publishing Company. Slough.

WBRC Home Worcs Record Listing by Issue Worcs Record Listing by Subject