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Species Solenopsis molesta - Thief Ant

Thief Ant - Solenopsis molesta - male Solenopsis molesta takes flight - Solenopsis molesta - female Solenopsis molesta Tiny red ants - Solenopsis molesta Thief Ant - Solenopsis molesta Ant under weak magnification - Solenopsis molesta Solenopsis molesta? - Solenopsis molesta Solenopsis molesta? - Solenopsis molesta
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Formicoidea (Ants)
Family Formicidae (Ants)
Subfamily Myrmicinae
Tribe Solenopsidini
Genus Solenopsis (Fire Ants and Thief Ants)
No Taxon (Diplorhoptrum - Thief ants (fugax group))
Species molesta (Thief Ant)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Solenopsis molesta (Say)
Orig. Comb: Myrmica molesta Say 1836
may actually be a complex of closely related and nearly indistinguishable species, but there is no modern revision of the group. Thompson's 1989 revision of Florida species in this group is helpful for distinguishing known relatives of eastern US. The types are lost. A move is afoot to have specimens collected from near Thomas Say's former home in New Harmony Indiana as neotypes.
1.4-1.5 mm workers, males 3.5 mm, queens 3.5-4+ mm depending on state of physogastry.
See Thompson (1989) below.
Throughout NA
Moist soil in virtually any location; more likely to be found in sunny spots. Commonly nests in the mounds of other ants, in spaces not occupied by, but close to the brood chambers of the mound builders.
mostly Summer, Fall (BG data)
Generalist scavenger easily attracted to a variety of baits, often feeding on the underside of these, as larger ants feed simultaneously from above. Tends root-sap-feeding hemipterans, and preys on innocent, immobile larvae and pupae, including those of other ants.
Life Cycle
Mating flights occur in the second half of summer, with large flights coinciding with those of common Lasius species near the end of summer. These occur on sunny, calm days following a cooling rain. First workers are raised by single or small groups of queens after these flights.
A very abundant and widely distributed species that goes mostly unnoticed because of its small size.
Print References
Thompson, C.R. 1989. The thief ants, Solenopsis molesta group, of Florida (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Florida Entomologist, 72(2): 268-283. (PDF)