Global and temporal spread of a taxonomically challenging invasive ant, Brachyponera chinensis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).
The Asian needle ant, Brachyponera chinensis (Emery) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), is an East Asian species currently spreading through the eastern US. Although not aggressive, B. chinensis has a painful sting that can induce a severe allergic reaction in humans and disrupt native ecological communities. To document the global distribution of B. chinensis and evaluate its potential for further spread, we compiled specimen records from over 780 sites in its native and introduced ranges. Unfortunately, in its native range, B. chinensis often has been confused with morphologically similar species, resulting in some unreliable published distribution records. Therefore, we designated confirmed identification records as "B. chinensis s.s." (sensu stricto). Our report chronicles the earliest known records of B. chinensis for 50 geographic areas in the Old World (36 countries and island groups) and New World (17 states in the US) and the recent expansion of B. chinensis into the eastern coast of the Black Sea along with new state distribution records from the US. We also provide new information on the phenology of B. chinensis. This ant species represents a potentially serious public health threat that warrants more epidemiological study.