Lasius neoniger (Emery), a cosmopolitan ant species, can be a serious pest when its mound-building activities occur on golf course putting greens and other closely mowed turfgrass sites. We mapped the distribution of 735 ant mounds on 30 sand-based putting greens of three golf courses. We then examined factors that might explain why >90% of the mounds on such greens were concentrated in a 2-m wide band just inside the perimeter. Root aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae) from which L. neoniger obtains honeydew were largely absent from high-sand root zone mix of greens but present in surrounding turfgrass on natural soil. Main ant nests, with brood, also were absent from sand-based greens but abundant in adjacent roughs. Although more root aphids were found within ant nests than away from nests, their numbers seem too low to be the main factor restricting the ants’ distribution to edges of putting greens. In manipulative experiments, ants responded to low cut (scalped) turf and to sand-filled holes by increased mound building. We suggest that most ant mounds on sand-based greens are associated with subnests, used by foraging workers, which are connected to main nests located just outside the collar in natural soil. Encroachment of mounds into greens occurs when the polydomous colonies seasonally expand their foraging territories, accounting for mounds being concentrated around the perimeter. Control actions for L. neoniger on golf courses should focus on the perimeter of sand-based greens.
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Vol. 98 • No. 3