Thief Ants

The Thief Ant

As one of the smallest household ants, you might think that thief ants don’t have the ability to cause any kind of destruction in your home. However, these tiny insects can wreak havoc on your home’s cleanliness and security. If you notice any signs of them, be sure to get rid of them right away.


Thief ants are tiny, at only 1/32” long. They are light yellow or red in color, with distinctive black markings on their abdomens. They have two enlarged nodes between the abdomen and thorax and a ten-segmented antenna. These ants are often confused with pharaoh ants, which are also small and yellow in color. However, pharaoh ants have black lines on the abdomen and twelve-segmented antenna. These ants have six legs and are found throughout most of the United States.

Appearance, Behavior, and Signs

How to identify thief ants

How to identify thief ants. By Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren – Solenopsis molesta – Thief ants, CC BY 2.0, 

These ants live in soil as well as in rotting wood. They find their way indoors by entering through extremely small crevices and will build their nests beneath counter-tops, in wall voids, or behind baseboards. They get their name from their proclivity towards stealing food from other ant species, although they will also feed on dead insects, greasy foods and proteins, and sweets. Once they’ve made their way into your home, they will feed on unopened packages of food as well as crumbs left on the counter.

Thief ants usually stay outdoors, preferring to reside in small crevices and woodwork. However, when the weather turns especially hot, they will come indoors to search for food and to stay cool.


Thief ants are largely unavoidable, as they can fit through crevices that are practically invisible to the naked eye. However, keeping your home clear of trash and other debris can help prevent them, as they prefer to nest under some sort of cover. In addition, removing any rotting wood near your home can help keep them far away.

Keep all of your food in sealed, airtight containers, but keep in mind that this may not keep thief ants out. These opportunistic insects will steal any food, no matter how small the entry point. They will feed on almost anything, including insects, seeds, fruits, meats, and dairy products.


How to get rid of Thief Ants

How to get rid of Thief Ants. By RonelleWhite – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, 

If you suspect a thief ant infestation, you should do your best to locate their nests. This is the easiest and quickest way to eliminate an infestation. Nevertheless, thief ants can be incredibly difficult to get rid of, largely because of their small size that makes it hard to detect signs of infestation. However, once you realize you have a thief ant infestation you should take immediate steps to get rid of it. Most infestations will require the use of pesticides. Contact a licensed pest control specialist, who will likely treat the infestation with insecticides such as Demon WP or Borid Dust.

Thief Ant Facts

Thief ants can carry diseases to human food, and are able to fit into such small spaces that they can even invade unopened food packages. This unique characteristic makes them incredibly dangerous. They will also feed on dead rodents and can even carry poultry tapeworm.

These pests mate in late July and end in early fall, giving them a prolonged breeding season that gives them more opportunity to enter your home. Thief ant infestations should not be taken lightly–because they will feed on anything and can enter into small spaces, they have a high potential for causing sickness and unsanitary conditions inside your home. Therefore, it’s extremely important to get rid of an infestation as soon as you realize you have one.

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