Thief ants are an incredibly small ant species that are generally yellow or brownish in color. They have very small eyes and very small stingers on their abdomen. Their abdomen and thorax are connected together by a two-segmented petiole. The worker thief ants have much larger jaws than other thief ants so they can take food back to the nest.
One of the smallest types of ants, thief ants are typically between 0.5 mm (1/32 in.) and 3 mm (1/8 in.) long.
Thief Ants are aptly named for their practice of stealing food from other ant colonies. These types of ants build their colonies very near to other ant nests and then take food from those colonies to feed their own.
Like other types of ants, thief ants live in colonies. These nests can have a few hundred ants or a few thousand, depending on the location of the colony. Nests that are located near a ready, reliable food source don’t need as many workers because it’s easier to get food, so these colonies tend to be smaller. This species of ant has even been found living among other types of ants in their colonies. They usually steal food from the other ants and on occasion even take the host ants’ larva for food.
They eat nearly everything, including dead insects or animals, grease, seeds, cheese and more. Thief ants are sometimes called grease ants because they are drawn to it and will eat it anytime they find it. Unlike many other ant species, thief ants don’t seem to be attracted to sweets. When they find a food source, they create a trail from the colony to the food so that the other worker ants can find it.
Due to their incredibly small size and their resilience, thief ants can live just about anywhere. Colonies are often found in homes under floorboards or in the cracks, as well as in rotting logs, underneath rocks or in exposed soil. When thief ants are unable to find one of these types of habitats to build a colony of their own, they will move into another ant colony. The sizes of thief ant nests are relatively large for the size of the ants themselves. The nests typically have tunnels leading to other ant colonies to provide a steady, consistent source of food.