Thief ant mating flights…

…happening this evening in Urbana. Photographic evidence:

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Solenopsis molesta, thief ant winged queen

Thief ants are among the most abundant insects in the midwest, but most people will never see them. They are small- only about 2mm long- and spend most of their time underground. The large relatively large size of the queens indicates a species capable of raising new colonies from workers fed entirely on the body reserves of young queens like this one. She will fly off, mate, and tunnel underground when she finds a suitable nesting site.

Incidentally, this whole drama played out on our front walkway. Urban lots can host plenty of nature for those willing to look.

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Solenopsis molesta, thief ant queen
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Solenopsis molesta, thief ant queen

photo details:
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 7D
ISO 250, f/13, 1/250 second
Diffused macro twin lite

9 thoughts on “Thief ant mating flights…”

  1. The coy pose on the third shot is excellent — I’m sure you created that pink background somehow, but I can’t make out what it is.

  2. I think I have seen them (in Michigan). Perhaps they are the ants that make abundant mounds on my lawn. They are small, have this color, and they sure are numerous.
    Why are the workers hanging onto the queen in the 1st photo?

      1. I would expect the females of the species ‘know how to distinguish’ the males, although their definition could differ from ours, LOL.

        1. Hahaha – good answer Bob. I emend my statement: “… but as yet no *myrmecologist* exactly knows how to distinguish the species of thief ants based on males.”

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