Browsing ant

harms crops

harms wildlife

lives on ground

day active

Scientific name: Lepisiota frauenfeldi formerly Acantholepis frauenfeldi

Size: 3-4 mm

Colour: uniform shiny dark brown

General description: the browsing ant has long legs and antennae and appears quite shiny. When disturbed this species runs around rapidly in a haphazard fashion, much like crazy ants do. Workers all look the same (monomorphic).

Habitat and nesting: very little is known about the biology of the browsing ant. Ants of the genus Lepisota, to which the browsing ant belongs are typically found in less forested areas and nest in the ground, in rotten wood or in standing trees.

Rate of spread: unknown.

Distribution: see our invasive ant distributions page for the worldwide distribution of the browsing ant.

Reproduction: information not available.

Social, agricultural and economic impacts of the browsing ant

This ant species is an emerging invader and its full impacts are not yet known. It can form supercolonies, so has the potential to become a serious pest to humans if it were to establish in an urban area and reach high abundances. Browsing ants farm sap-sucking insects which can damage plants. When abundances of this ant are high it has been known to displace other ants and invertebrates. It also preys upon other ant species so could harm native ecosystems by decreasing native ant biodiversity and disrupting the ecosystem processes that those ants provide.

For a detailed description and identification of browsing ants:

AntWeb: Lepisiota frauenfeldi


A browsing ant worker (© Alex Wild)

A browsing ant worker specimen (© Western Australian Agriculture Authority, 2013–2016)

Browsing ants run around frantically when disturbed (© Western Australian Agriculture Authority, 2013–2016)

Information sources

AntWeb, Lepisiota

AntWiki, Browsing ant

Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA), Browsing ant

Content reviewed by Eli Sarnat, Antwork Consulting, LLC, June 2017

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