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How to Manage Pests

Key to Identifying Common Household Ants

Thief ant—Solenopsis molesta
Subfamily: Myrmicinae

Thief ant worker
Thief ant characteristics

Identifying characteristics


  • Feed on grease and greasy foods, proteins, dead insects, and even dead rodents; may sometimes feed on sweets
  • Often steal food and ant larvae from nests of other ants
  • Travel in set trails inside cabinets, on walls, along baseboards, and along branches of trees and shrubs
  • May travel from one room to another by traveling on electrical wires; may be seen in electrical outlets.
  • Small enough to forage into packaged foods

Nest type and size

  • Nest outdoors in soil under rocks or in decaying wood
  • Indoors, colonies found in cabinet or wall voids or behind baseboards
  • Individual colonies small; may have multiple queens

See also, thief ant quick management tips.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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