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Description: Thief ants are very tiny; workers are never more than 1/16th of an inch long. The thorax lacks distinct spines, the petiole has two nodes, and there is a small stinger at the tip of the abdomen. The coloration of thief ants is yellow to light brown looking similar to pharaoh ants. Thief and Pharaoh ants are easily distinguished because thief ants have a large two-segmented club at the tip of the antennae while Pharaoh ants have a three-segmented club. Thief ants also have very small eyes.
In June, thief ants begin swarming as winged reproductives; this activity continues until late fall. A colony of a few hundred to several thousand workers can be established by a single fertilized female. Developmental time from egg to adult is 50 days to several months.
Thief ants often are found within very large nests that have tiny tunnels connecting them to the nests of the larger ants. They habitually steal food and brood from the other ant's nests' thus, their name. Thief ants usually nest outdoors in areas with bare soil or beneath stones. When they do nest within structures, they usually are found in wall voids and similar protected locations.
Thief ants feed on live and dead insects, seeds, and honeydew and will tend aphids and other honeydew-producing insects as a source of this food. They generally prefer food with high protein content.