Leptothorax acervorum

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Leptothorax acervorum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Leptothorax
Species: L. acervorum
Binomial name
Leptothorax acervorum
(Fabricius, 1793)

Leptothorax acervorum casent0104845 profile 1.jpg

Leptothorax acervorum casent0104845 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


This species is most abundant in dry and lighted coniferous forests with scarce undergrowth, it reaches to the north the Forest-Tundra zone. It also can be found in open habitats, ranging from moist peat bogs to xerothermal grasslands. Nests are built (depending on habitat) in rotten logs or stumps, in fallen branches, under bark and, more rarely, under stones or in rock crevices, also under moss; in bogs they are found in peat. (Radchenko 2004)

At a Glance • Facultatively polygynous  • Tandem running  



Terayama and Onoyama (1999) - Total length of workers around 3-3.5 mm. Head and gaster black; mesosoma, petiole and postpetiole reddish brown, their dorsa blackish brown; legs brown. Antennae 11-segmented; scapes short, not reaching posterior margin of head in full-face view. Pro- and mesonotal dorsa depressed in profile. Propodeal dorsum weakly convex. Propodeal spines longer than wide in side view, with acute tips. Petiolar node high, triangular; anterior margin sloping steeply forwards in profile; peduncle obscure.

Collingwood (1979) - Reddish to brownish yellow with the head, antennal club and dorsal surface of gaster darker. Dorsa of petiole nodes and femora frequently infuscated. Antennae with eleven segments. Head longitudinally striate, alitrunk rugose and gaster smooth. Propodeal spines strong. Mesopropodeal suture distinct and depressed. Tibiae and scapes with numerous erect hairs. Length: 3.8-4.5 mm.

This is a comparatively large and robust species easily recognized by the abundant suberect appendage hairs in all castes. The species tends to darken in colour from south to north varying from bright yellowish brown to nearly black, the darker samples occurring chiefly in high mountain areas, peat bogs and in the arctic north but with no clear break in colour gradation to the dark form sometimes referred to as the variety nigrescens Ruzsky (1905).

Keys including this Species


Northernmost Scandinavia to mountains of South Europe and from Spain to Japan (Collingwood 1979).

Terayama and Onoyama (1999) - In Japan this species is distributed in the lowlands of Hokkaido and mountainous areas of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. In central Honshu L. acervorum is found at 1,350-2,590 m above sea level (Sonobe, 1979), at 1,900-1,980 m on Mt. Ishizuchi in Shikoku (Takechi, 1960a, 1960b; Sonobe, 1979), and at 1,740 m on Mt. Kujyu, Kyushu (Sonobe, 1979).

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States.
Oriental Region: India.
Palaearctic Region: Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Denmark (type locality), Estonia, Finland, France (type locality), Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iberian Peninsula, Iran, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, 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 small isolated colonies of 25 to 60 individuals with one or several queens; worker-queen intercastes are frequent. It is found nesting in open moorland in peat, rock crevices and under stones and in woodland areas on fallen tree trunks, rotten branches, stumps or under bark. The workers forage singly, predating small insects or scavenging insect corpses. It has not been observed to tend aphids, is non-aggressive and avoids combat with other ants. Alatae occur in the nests in June and July and have been observed flying and mating on high ground in July.

Terayama and Onoyama (1999) - Monogynous and polygynous colonies are present in Japan, but even in polygynous colonies only one of the queens has functional ovaries and lays eggs (Ito, 1991), which is (“functional monogyny”). Three socially parasitic ant species are known to associate with L. acervorum in Europe, but none are yet known to occur in Japan.

Association with Other Organisms

Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: 250 (Dobrzanski, 1966; Buschinger, 1971; Moglich et al., 1974; Moglich, 1979; Beckers et al., 1989)
  • Foraging behaviour: tandem recruitment (Dobrzanski, 1966; Buschinger, 1971; Moglich et al., 1974; Moglich, 1979; Beckers et al., 1989)






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

  • acervorum. Formica acervorum Fabricius, 1793: 358 (w.) DENMARK. Latreille, 1798: 49 (q.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1955b: 21 (l.). Combination in Leptothorax: Mayr, 1855: 436; in L. (Mychothorax): Ruzsky, 1904a: 288. Senior synonym of lacteipennis: Nylander, 1846a: 936; of kamtshaticus: Kupyanskaya, 1986b: 96; of orientalis: Kupyanskaya, 1990: 137; of nigrescens, superus: Radchenko, 1995a: 23. Material of the nomen nudum melanocephala referred here by Mayr, 1855: 411. Current subspecies: nominal plus vandeli. See also: Donisthorpe, 1915d: 147; Stitz, 1939: 158; Tarbinsky, 1976: 86; Kutter, 1977c: 128; Atanassov & Dlussky, 1992: 130; Terayama & Onoyama, 1999: 75.
  • lacteipennis. Myrmica lacteipennis Zetterstedt, 1838: 452 (m.) SWEDEN. Junior synonym of acervorum: Nylander, 1846a: 936.
  • nigrescens. Leptothorax acervorum var. nigrescens Ruzsky, 1905b: 614 (w.) RUSSIA. Subspecies of acervorum: Ruzsky, 1936: 94; Pisarski, 1969b: 297. Junior synonym of acervorum: Radchenko, 1995a: 23.
  • superus. Leptothorax (Mychothorax) acervorum var. superus Ruzsky, 1905b: 614 (w.m.) RUSSIA. [Later misspelled as superbus by Ruzsky, 1936: 94.] Junior synonym of acervorum: Radchenko, 1995a: 23.
  • kamtshaticus. Leptothorax (Mychothorax) acervorum subsp. kamtshaticus Ruzsky, 1920: 77 (w.) RUSSIA. Junior synonym of acervorum: Kupyanskaya, 1986b: 96.
  • orientalis. Mychothorax acervorum subsp. orientalis Kuznetsov-Ugamsky, 1928b: 31 (w.) RUSSIA. Junior synonym of acervorum: Kupyanskaya, 1990: 137.
  • vandeli. Mychothorax acervorum var. vandeli Bondroit, 1920a: 153 (w.q.) FRANCE.
    • [Also described as new by Bondroit, 1920b: 303.]
    • Combination in Temnothorax: Borowiec, L. 2014: 193 (error).
    • Subspecies of acervorum: Bolton, 1995b: 246.
    • Junior synonym of acervorum: Casevitz-Weulersse & Galkowski, 2009: 488.
    • Status as species: Borowiec, L. 2014: 193 (error).



  • n = 13, 2n = 26 (Canada; France; Germany; Sweden; Switzerland) (Fischer, 1987; Hauschteck-Jungen & Jungen, 1983; Loiselle et al., 1990).


  • Atanassov, N.; Dlussky, G. M. 1992. Fauna of Bulgaria. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Fauna Bûlg. 22: 1-310 (page 130, see also)
  • Beckers R., Goss, S., Deneubourg, J.L., Pasteels, J.M. 1989. Colony size, communication and ant foraging Strategy. Psyche 96: 239-256 (doi:10.1155/1989/94279).
  • Dekoninck, W., Vankerkhoven, F. & Buschinger, A. 2012. A misunderstood instance of teratology in Belgian Leptothorax acervorum (FABRICIUS, 1793) (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from the Bondroit collection. Bulletin de la Société royale belge d’Entomologie/Bulletin van de Koninklijke Belgische Vereniging voor Entomologie, 148, 16-19.
  • Donisthorpe, H. 1915f. British ants, their life-history and classification. Plymouth: Brendon & Son Ltd., xv + 379 pp. (page 147, see also)
  • Fabricius, J. C. 1793. Entomologia systematica emendata et aucta. Secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, adjectis synonimis, locis observationibus, descriptionibus. Tome 2. Hafniae [= Copenhagen]: C. G. Proft, 519 pp. (page 358, worker described)
  • Heinze, J., Ortius, D. 1991. Social organization of Leptothorax acervorum from Alaska (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Psyche, 98: 227-240, doi:10.1155/1991/21921.
  • Kupyanskaya, A. N. 1986b. Ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from the northern part of the Far East. Pp. 91-102 in: Ler, P. A. (ed.) Systematics and ecology of insects from the Far East. Vladivostok: Akademiya Nauk SSSR, 155 pp. (page 96, Senior synonym of kamtschaticus)
  • Kupyanskaya, A. N. 1990a. Ants of the Far Eastern USSR. Vladivostok: Akademiya Nauk SSSR, 258 pp. (page 137, Senior synonym of orientalis)
  • Kutter, H. 1977c. Hymenoptera, Formicidae. Insecta Helv. Fauna 6: 1-298 (page 128, see also)
  • Latreille, P. A. 1798. Essai sur l'histoire des fourmis de la France. Brive: F. Bourdeaux, 50 pp. (page 49, queen, male 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 436, Combination in Leptothorax)
  • 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 411, Material of the nomen nudum melanocephala referred here by Mayr, 1855)
  • Nylander, W. 1846a. Adnotationes in monographiam formicarum borealium Europae. Acta Soc. Sci. Fenn. 2: 875-944 (page 936, Senior synonym of lacteipennis)
  • Radchenko, A. 2004. A review of the ant genera Leptothorax Mayr and Temnothorax Mayr (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of the Eastern Palaearctic. Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 50(2): 109-137 (page 130, see also)
  • Radchenko, A. G. 1995a [1994]. A review of the ant genus Leptothorax (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of the central and eastern Palearctic. Communication 1. Subdivision into groups. Groups acervorum and bulgaricus. Vestn. Zool. 1994 6: 22-28 (page 23, Senior synonym of nigrescens and superus)
  • Ruzsky, M. 1904a. On ants from Archangel province. Zap. Imp. Rus. Geogr. Obshch. Obshch. Geogr. 41: 287-294 (page 288, Combination in L. (Mychothorax))
  • Stitz, H. 1939. Die Tierwelt Deutschlands und der angrenzenden Meersteile nach ihren Merkmalen und nach ihrer Lebensweise. 37. Theil. Hautflüger oder Hymenoptera. I: Ameisen oder Formicidae. Jena: G. Fischer, 428 pp. (page 158, see also)
  • Tarbinsky, Y. S. 1976. The ants of Kirghizia. Frunze: Ilim, 217 pp. (page 86, see also)
  • Terayama, M. and K. Onoyama. 1999. The ant genus Leptothorax Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Japan. Memoirs of the Myrmecological Society of Japan. 1:71-97.
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1955b. The ant larvae of the myrmicine tribe Leptothoracini. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 48: 17-29 (page 21, larva described)