Thief ant grease ant piss ant solenopsis molesta Fig 98c

Workers are 1.3-1.8 mm long and the body is smooth and shiny. The color ranges from yellowish brown to dark brown. The eyes are small, with 4-6 ommatidia or fewer. The scape extends more than half the distance between the eye and the posterior border of the head. The antennal club is large and elongate; it is approximately 1.3 times the combined lengths of the remainder of the segments after the scape. The mandible usually has four teeth. The body setae are moderately abundant and well distributed, long, and usually erect. Nests in natural habitats are in exposed soil or under the cover of stones and other objects, including rotting wood. Indoor nests are in various cavities in wood, masonry, and household materials. Colonies contain several hundred to several thousand individuals. In the laboratory, queens laid 27-387 eggs per day, and workers developed from egg to adult in about 52 days. Winged reproductives emerge from July to October. Natural food includes live and dead insects, seeds, and honeydew; indoors they feed on meat, sweets, ripened fruit, oils, and dairy products. They may prefer food with high protein content. This species is native to North America, and it occurs in eastern and central USA from

Figure 9.8 Hymenoptera: Formicidae. (a) Solenopsis geminata; (b) S. inuicta; (c) S. molesta; (d) S. xyloni; (e) Tapinoma melanocephalum; (f) T. sessile; (g) Tetramorium guineense; (h) T. caespitum.

southern Canada to the Gulf Coast. The name thief ant refers to the habit of nesting in or near the nests of other ants, which they rob of food and brood.

Blackimported fire ant, solenopsisrichteri Workers are 2.8-6 mm long and the body is dark brown to blackish brown, except for a broad band of yellowish red at the base of the gaster. The head is less than twice as broad as the pronotum. The apex of the scape extends more than half the distance between the upper border of the eye and the posterior border of the head. Nests in natural habitats are in various types of soil. In open areas the excavated soil next to the nest opening may be 1 m high, and large mounds of soil are usually dome- or conical-shaped. The mounds of soil contain galleries and chambers above and below the soil level. Nests in peridomestic habitats occur in turfgrass and among ornamental plants and shrubs. Colonies are large and contain more than one functional queen. Winged reproductives emerge from December to February, but reproductives may be produced at other times. Natural food includes flesh of insects, mammals, birds, honeydew, fruits, and seeds. Indoors they feed on meat, grease, and other foods that have a high protein content. Workers are aggressive and sting repeatedly. This species is native to South America and naturally occurs in Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. Itwas introduced into North America and occurs in southern USA, from northeastern Mississippi and northwestern Alabama.

Southern fire ant, solenopsis xyloni (Fig. 9.8d) Workers are 1.6-5.8 mm long and yellowish brown to reddish brown. The gaster is usually dark brown, and the body is densely covered with fine setae. The scape extends about halfway between the eye and the posterior border of the head. The surface of the mesopleuron is finely sculptured. This species is similar to

S. invicta, exceptitlacks mesopleuron striations, three teeth on the mandible, and the short antennal scape. Nests in natural habitats are in the ground in an exposed site or under stones or other objects; nests are surrounded with craters of loose soil. Indoors they nest in wood, masonry, and wall voids. Nests may be in turfgrass around buildings. In agricultural sites, the number of colonies rarely exceeds 15-25 per hectare. Colonies are large, and there may be several functional queens. They are very sensitive to ground vibrations, and when disturbed the workers will leave the nest and attack intruders. New colonies may be formed by budding, which is accomplished when a young queen and a small number of workers split from the parent colony. Natural food includes seeds, honeydew, live and dead insects, juices or sap offruits and plants. Indoors it eats nuts, meat, grease, and fruits. They bite holes in fabrics, such as silk, linen, and nylon. This species is native to North America, but it has been displaced from its former range by the imported fire ant. It now occurs from South Carolina and Florida west to California, and it is especially common in some of the Gulf Coast states.

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