||Pale yellowish to light or dark brown
||Unevenly rounded, thorax lacks spines
||1.5 mm - 2.2 mm long – one of the smallest household ant species
||Throughout most of the United States
Thief ants get their name from their habit of nesting very near
other ants, which they then rob of food and brood (larvae and
pupae). Colonies tend to be smaller than those of other species,
but can contain many queens and several thousand workers. Thief
ants are also known as grease ants and are often confused with
pharaoh ants, although they differ in characteristics.
Mating swarms (nuptial flights) begin in late July and end in
Thief ants are attracted to greasy and high-protein foods such
as nuts, breads, meats, fruits, animal fats, oils and dairy
products. When outside, they will also feed on almost anything
organic including insects, mealybugs, seeds, and germinating
Inside, thief ants nest in small crevices, and woodwork and
masonry. They commonly enter structures during hot weather in
search of food and use the wires in wall voids to travel from room
Outside, they nest in exposed soil or under objects, in trash,
rotten wood and cavities in trees.
Thief ants may carry disease-inducing organisms to human food,
as they have been found feeding on dead rats and mice. They may
also serve as intermediate hosts for the poultry tapeworm.