The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile, in Japan: Assessment of impact on species diversity of ant communities in urban environments


Dr Yoshifumi Touyama, c/o Professor Nakagoshi, Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima, 739-8521 Japan.


The Argentine ant Linepithema humile (Mayr) invaded the Hiroshima Prefecture in south-west Japan some time before 1990. In this report, we describe the distribution of this exotic ant species and assess its impact on indigenous ant communities in urban areas. L. humile is now widely distributed mainly in urban areas and surrounding secondary vegetation of the cities Hatsukaichi and Hiroshima. The impact assessment suggested that L. humile reduced species diversity of local, indigenous ant communities. There was differential sensitivity of indigenous ant species to the invasion of L. humile. Some ant species disappeared in parks infested with L. humile; for example, Pheidole noda, Pheidole indica and Lasius japonicus. L. humile seemed to be superior to these ant species in certain traits and habits, such as mobility, recruitment ability, aggressiveness and omnivory. In contrast, Paratrechina sakurae and Camponotus vitiosus were less affected by L. humile infestation. The mechanisms allowing such coexistence seemed to be small body size (P. sakurae) and arboreal nesting habits (C. vitiosus).