Prenolepis imparis

False Honey Ant
Prenolepis imparis

 

False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis worker on pineapple in composter March 19, 2011, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.
False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis worker on pineapple in composter March 19, 2011, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Head: Shiny, dark brown to black. Head small, oval eyes. Long whiskers (palpi). Mandibles black. Queen has large eyes.
Antenna: Pale light yellowish. Base (scape) much longer than head. Segments do not widen at tips (no club).
Thorax: Dark brown, sometimes slightly reddish-brown, shiny. End of abdomen has one horn (petiole). Queen more reddish, thorax large, flattened on top.
Wings: Wings are smoky, slightly yellowish at tips; veins brown. Male wings are milky white.
Legs: Pale light yellowish, long. Male legs thighs (femur) dark; shins (tibiae) more reddish-yellow.
Abdomen: Worker abdomen dark brown, shiny, cone-shaped, almost triangular, tip sharp-pointed; can be engorged (4 to 5 times normal size) with fluids and will have a lighter stripe or blotches across segments. Queen abdomen with a lighter reddish stripe across each segment.

Male is black.  Queen is reddish-orange, not shiny.

Size: Queen 8 to 10 mm. Male and Worker 3 to 4 mm

Flight Time: Early to mid-April, they are the first ants to fly.

Habitat: They build their nests deep underground in moist clay or sand in well-shaded locations.

Food: Honeydew from aphids, treehoppers and scale. Sumac flower nectar. Live and dead insects, worms and decaying fruits. Foraging occurs mostly at night or on cloudy, cool days.

False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis queen and tiny male mating April 13, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.
False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis queen and tiny male mating April 13, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.

Life Cycle: Each colony is small, with a few hundred ants. Colony are very deep in the ground ( 3 meters) and has only one entrance surrounded with loose soil; sometimes soil is washed away. Mature winged males and females overwinter in nest; flying and mating in early spring. The females find a new location for nests. Special workers (repletes) feed only on liquids causing engorged abdomens. They hang from the top of the tunnels in the nest as living food sources for the other ants. P. imparis can tolerate near freezing  temperatures when foraging. Can be the dominant species on carrion.

False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis male on Forsythia flower April 21, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.
False Honey Ant Prenolepis imparis male on Forsythia flower April 21, 2008, Wheatley, Ontario.

No predators or nest mates have been found in Prenolepis imparis nests.

Comments: Essex County – Lake Erie Island species list; Ojibway Prairies species list, 2008. Kent County – Rondeau Prov. Park species list, 2009. Widespread up to Toronto. In Canada, this ant only lives in Ontario.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page