Thief Ant

Category:

Actual Size: 1.5 to 2.2 mm

Characteristics: Brown to yellow in color 

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: No

Habitat: Nests are found in exposed soil, under rocks, or in rotting wood. Indoors, nests can be found in woodwork and masonry.

Habits:

  • Will nest near other ants, then steal the food and larvae from their neighbor.
  • Also known as grease ants, will feed on potato chips and other greasy household foods.
  • Because they feed on dead rodents and insects, they contaminate pantry products as they forage.

Thief Ants in Knoxville TN

Thief ants get their name from their habit of nesting near other, larger ants, then entering their nest to steal food and prey upon larvae. Found throughout much of Knoxville, their nests are connected to the nests they rob by galleries that are too small for other ant species to access, but big enough for the tiny worker thief ants to move freely. Feeding on rodents and insects, thief ants also feed on potato chips and other greasy foods. They invade homes through cracks and crevices contaminating stored pantry products and packaged food items.

Thief Ant Habitat

Nests outside are located in exposed soil, under rocks, or in rotting wood. Inside homes and businesses, thief ants nest in woodwork and masonry. Thief ants enter structures through small gaps in the foundation or small openings in woodwork during warm weather. They utilize electrical wiring in wall voids to move from room to room. These ants forage in trails throughout a home or building seeking greasy foods, protein, and dairy. Thief ants are commonly found in kitchen and food prep areas of homes and businesses.

Thief Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

Although thief ants rarely bite, they are considered a dangerous pest as they feed on dead rats, mice, and insects, contaminating food as they forage. When entering homes, thief ants may be carriers of disease-producing organisms, transmitting pathogens from a food source to human food. Thief ants trail inside cabinets, on walls, baseboards, tree branches, and shrubs. Due to their small size, they are able to forage into packaged foods. If a thief ant infestation is suspected, it is recommended to contact a professional ant exterminator.