Like the name implies, thief ants, or Solenopsis Molesti, are experts at stealing things, mostly food. These tiny subterranean conmen setup shop near other ants’ nests in order to pilfer the other ant colony’s food. Mighty but miniscule, these mobsters will stoop to stealing another ant colony’s eggs for tasty treats and will discreetly dispose of the carcasses of dead and dying ants when an ant colony goes south.
At only about 1/16th of an inch and gold in color, thief ants love dead insects and help control lawn and golf course pests like cutworms and scarab beetles. In fact, thief ants with colonies of several thousand workers and multiple queens can outsmart and outmaneuver fire ants, overcoming and eating the larger ants. Fire ants can’t establish colonies in areas where thief ants live. Sometimes mistaken for pharaoh ants, because of their size, thief ants exhibit different markings than pharaoh ants.
Native to North America and found throughout much of the eastern and central United States, thief ants are so tiny they may go unnoticed in your home, munching on greasy foods, such as potato chips and proteins. Showing a preference for proteins, like animal carcasses, these tiny interlopers are also drawn to sweets. Just one donut could be a thief ant colony’s magic kingdom.
Thief ants will eat just about anything and travel long distances in search of food. In warm weather, thief ants may enter your home, through cracks in the foundation or small holes in wood, foraging in trails for food, throughout your home.