In the tropics and subtropics, ants are of considerable economic importance and various species cause considerable damage to cultivated plants. Ants are far less significant in temperate regions, although Lasius fidiginosus (Latreille) and members of the genus Camponotus Mayr are considered forestry pests in continental Europe.
In Britain, ants (especially the yellow meadow ant, L. flavus (F.)) sometimes damage potato tubers, causing a noticeable pitting of the surface; the pits sometimes coalesce to become distinctive surface depressions. Such attacks occur mainly in gardens and allotments, and are most often noticed in July and August. Under dry spring conditions, ants will also cause slight damage to ornamental trees and shrubs (and also to fruit trees, especially apple); they either bite into the soft, young tissue of the buds and unfurling leaves or sever the stamens of open blossoms in their attempts to reach the nectaries and imbibe nectar. Most frequently, however, worker ants ascend trees and shrubs to collect honeydew excreted by aphids and other pests; such ants will 'defend' aphid colonies from attacks by natural enemies. Subterranean activities by ants are, occasionally, a problem to horticulturists, as the insects accidentally disturb seeds, seedlings and older plants; invasion of stored compost by ants is also an unwelcome inconvenience.
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