Smaller Yellow Ant
Identification: Our only entirely orange-yellow ant.
Head: Body color pale yellowish to yellowish-red. Eyes very small, nearer top of head. Whiskers (palpi) short, 3-segmented. Male is all black.
Antenna: Yellowish. Base (scape) or segment 1 extends to top of the head, but not beyond.
Thorax: Workers and queen considered yellowish-orange, but queen is darker. Male is black. Thorax has a single horn just before abdomen, very narrow and sharp at tip.
Wings: Dark, smoky in both queen and male.
Legs: Pale yellowish to yellowish-red.
Abdomen: Wide, shiny. Pale yellowish to yellowish-red; slightly lighter than rest of body. Many erect hairs on top side. No stinger.
Size: Workers 3 to 4 mm long.
Male 4 to 5 mm long, entirely black.
Queens 7 to 8 mm long.
Similar Species: The Larger Yellow Ant Lasius (Acanthomyops) interjectus is present in Michigan, but not Ontario. Workers and Queen are a couple of mm larger. The antenna are longer and narrower. Nuptial flights are in June, rather than in the fall like the Smaller Yellow ant.
Habitat: Forest edges (prefer pine, oak and hickory), meadows and fields.
Food: Honeydew from subterranean aphids, plant lice and mealybugs, farmed by the ants on plant roots. The workers are also generalist scavengers.
Flight Time: Late August to end of October. Flights usually occur in the late afternoon, just before rain.
Life Cycle: Nests vary greatly, found in rotting wood, under stones, and mounded in clay to sandy soils. Mealybugs and root-aphids are cared for, and the ants will move them away if disturbed. Ants also emit a lemon or citronella odor if alarmed, formerly called Citronella Ant. Males and queens overwinter, and may fly on warm winter days. Queens invade other Lasius colonies, killing their queen and taking over the nest.
The Smaller Yellow Ant preys on Square-headed Crabro Wasp Anacrabro ocellatus nests which are stocked with plant bugs.
Nest Mates: Round Fungus Beetle Nemadus parasitus, larvae of the Orange-spotted Ladybug Brachiacantha ursina which feeds on root-aphids Pemphigus, Cuckoo Wasps (Bethylidae) Pseudisobrachium ashmeadi and P. elongatum, Short-winged Mold Beetles Batrisodes montrosus and B. ferox, Ground Beetle Panagaeus crucigerus, Rove Beetles Quedius molochinus and Homoeusa expansa.
Note: On May 22, 2014 the Brown Fruit Chafer Euphoria inda was laying eggs in a Smaller Yellow Ant nest. She made two holes about 3 inches apart.
Bird Anting: Blue Jays and Flickers will catch winged males and females, rubbing them on their feathers and then eating them.
Comments: Essex County – Ojibway species list, 2008.
For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page