Exotic Ants of the Southeastern United States [Southeastern ants] [Southeastern ants-Pests]

By Joe A. MacGown, uploaded on 6 March 2003, last updated on 20 August 2014

The following list of exotic ant species includes 73 species, plus the hybrid fire ant, Solenopsis X invicta. The exotic ants in the below list originated from a variety of regions including Central and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Much of this information is from Deyrup et al. (2000) and McGlynn (1999). For the purposes of this list, the Southeast is defined as including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee (see map below).

Four of the introduced species found in the Southeast, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (the Argentine ant), Pheidole megacephala Fabricius (the big-headed ant), Solenopsis invicta Buren (the red imported fire ant), and Wasmannia auropunctata (the little fire ant), are listed by Lowe (2000) as being four of five ants on the world's worst alien invasive species list [the other species is Anoplolepis gracilis (Smith)]. The Southeastern fauna includes 11 of the 15 species listed on the Global Invasive Species Database including Linepithema humile , Monomorium destructor (Jerdon), Monomorium pharaonis (Linnaeus), Paratrechina longicornis (Latreille), Pheidole megacephala Fabricius, Solenopsis geminata (Fabricius) (not considered exotic here), Solenopsis invicta, Solenopsis richteri Forel, Tapinoma melanocephalum (Fabricius), Technomyrmex sp. cf. albipes (Smith) [continental U.S. species are now thought to beTechnomyrmex difficilis Forel - see Wetterer, 2008), and Wasmannia auropunctata.

Although there are many other exotic species that could potentially invade the United States and the Southeast specifically, only a few of these are of serious concern at this time. The exotic and invasive species, Tetramorium tsushimae Emery, which is native to East Asia, has been found in Missouri and Illinois, and it is conceivable that it could find its way into southeastern states. This species has been shown to be have a negative affect on native species (Steiner et al. 2006). An introduced species native to Europe, Myrmica rubra Linnaeus (the European red or fire ant), has been in the New England area for approximately 100 years and appears to be gradually expanding its range. This stinging species is another potential invasive species for the Southeast. Another species of concern is the yellow crazy ant, Anoplolepis gracilis, which is now found in Hawaii. This is a very serious pest species that has been wreaking havoc on various ecosystems. Lasius neglectus Van Loon, Boomsma & Andrásfalvy, thought to be native to Turkey, is now causing problems in Europe due to enormous numbers of worker ants tending aphids on trees.


Map of the southeastern United States

Clicking on a species name will lead to a page with further information and photographs of that species. Although species pages are at various levels of progress, most pages now have representative photographs of at least workers of the species. In addition to the photographs of ants taken by Joe MacGown at the Mississippi Entomological Museum (MEM), many photos are used, with permission, from AntWeb, a web site about ants of the world with amazing photos. Another site with photographs of ants is "Discover Life." The Discover Life site provides a list of North American ants with photos at "Kinds of Ants, Ants of North America Page". On each individual MEM species page, a link is provided (at the bottom of the page) for that species on both the AntWeb site and the Discover Life ant site. Additionally, many of the species found in this list can be identified using the identification keys found on this web site.

The following list presented is arranged alphabetically. Following species names are the southeastern states from which the species are known from. Some of the species listed are dubious exotics and may actually be unnamed native species. Those species are designated by "introduced ?" following the species name. Similarly, for questionable pest species, the word "pest" is followed by the "?" symbol. Pest species include species that are considered to be serious pests, in that they may cause significant damage or health problems, to mild, nuisance pests.

Exotic Ants of the Southeastern United States

Anochetus mayri Emery (FL) (introduced-Neotropics)
Brachymyrmex minutus Forel (FL) (Introduced-Neotropics, West Indies)
Brachymyrmex obscurior Forel (FL, MS) (Introduced-Neotropics, pest)
Brachymyrmex patagonicus Mayr (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC) (introduced-Argentina, Neotropics, pest)
Brachymyrmex sp-01 (previously identified as B. brevicornis) (FL) (Introduced?-Central & South America?)
Brachyponera chinensis Emery (AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, SC, TN) (introduced-China, Japan, pest)
Camponotus
inaequalis Roger (FL, MS) (introduced?-possibly native, pest)
Camponotus planatus Roger (FL, MS) (introduced-Central America, pest)
Camponotus sexguttatus Fabricius (FL) (introduced-Neotropics, West Indies, pest)
Cardiocondyla emeryi Forel (FL) (introduced-Old World Tropics-Africa)
Cardiocondyla minutior Forel (AL?, FL, GA?, LA?, SC?) (introduced-IndoMalaysia)
Cardiocondyla obscurior Wheeler (FL, MS) (introduced-Asia?)
Cardiocondyla venustula Wheeler (AR, FL, LA) (introduced-Old World Tropics?)
Cardiocondyla wroughtonii (Forel) (FL, GA, LA) (introduced-tropical Asia & Australia)
Cephalotes varians (Smith) (FL) (introduced?-Cuba?)
Crematogaster obscurata (Emery) (FL) (introduced-Southern South America)
Cyphomyrmex minutus Mayr (FL) (introduced?-West Indies, Caribbean)
Cyphomyrmex rimosus (Spinola) (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, SC) (introduced-Neotropics)
Gnamptogenys hartmani (Wheeler) (LA) (introduced?-South America)
Gnamptogenys triangularis (Mayr) (AL, FL, MS) (introduced-Neotropics?)
Hypoponera opaciceps (Mayr) (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC) (introduced-Brazil)
Hypoponera punctatissima (Roger) (FL, MS, SC) (introduced-Europe?, pest)
Leptogenys elongata (Buckley) (LA) (introduced??)
Linepithema humile (Mayr) (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN) (introduced-Argentina, pest)
Monomorium destructor (Jerdon) (FL, TN) (introduced-Old World Tropics-Africa, India? or Asia?, pest)
Monomorium ebeninum Forel (FL) (introduced-West Indies)
Monomorium floricola (Jerdon) (AL, FL, MS) (introduced-Old World Tropics-India & Southeast Asia, pest)
Monomorium pharaonis (Linnaeus) (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN) (introduced-Africa?, pest)
Myrmelachista ramulorum Wheeler (FL) (Introduced-Neotropics)
Myrmica scabrinodis Nylander ?? (Smoky Mountains, state unknown) (introduced-Europe)
Ochetellus glaber (Mayr) (FL) (introduced-Australia, New Caledonia)
Odontomachus haematodus (Linnaeus) (AL, FL, MS) (introduced-South America)
Odontomachus ruginodis Smith (FL) (introduced-Neotropics, West Indies)
Nylanderia bourbonica (Forel) (AL, FL, GA, SC) (introduced-Old World Tropics, pest)
Nylanderia fulva (Mayr) (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS) (introduced-South America)
Nylanderia flavipes (F. Smith) ? (SC) (introduced-Asia)
Nylanderia guatemalensis (Forel) (FL) (Introduced-Central America, pest??)
Nylanderia pubens (Forel) (FL) (introduced-Neotropics, Caribbean?, pest)
Nylanderia vividula (Nylander) (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC ) (introduced?- Mexico??Europe?, nuisance pest)
Pachycondyla harpax (Fabricius) (LA) (introduced-South America, pest?)
Pachycondyla stigma (Fabricius) (AL, LA, FL) (introduced-neotropics, pest?)
Paratrechina longicornis (Latreille) (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN) (introduced-Old World Tropics-Africa?, pest)
Pheidole flavens Roger (FL) (introduced-Neotropics)
Pheidole megacephala Fabricius (FL) (introduced-Old World Tropic-Africa?, pest)
Pheidole moerens Wheeler (AL, FL, LA, MS) (introduced- Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico?)
Pheidole obscurithorax Naves (AL, FL, GA, MS) (introduced-Argentina)
Platythyrea punctata (Smith) (FL) (introduced?-Caribbean Islands?)
Prionopelta antillana Forel (FL) (introduced-Lesser Antilles or Central America)
Pseudomyrmex cubaensis (Forel) (FL) (introduced?-Greater Antilles, Bahamas)
Pseudomyrmex elongatus (Mayr) (FL) (introduced?-Costa Rica, Jamaica)
Pseudomyrmex gracilis (Fabricius) (AL, FL, LA, MS, SC) (introduced-Mexico or Central America, pest?)
Solenopsis invicta Buren (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN) (introduced-Brazil, pest)
Solenopsis invicta x richteri (AL, MS, TN) (introduced, pest)
Solenopsis richteri Forel (AL, MS, TN) (introduced-Argentina, pest)
Strumigenys emmae (Emery) (FL) (introduced--Old World Tropics)
Strumigenys eggersi Emery (FL) (introduced-Central or South America)
Strumigenys epinotalis Weber (LA, FL) (introduced-Central and/or South America)
Strumigenys gundlachi (Roger) (FL) (introduced-Central or South America)
Strumigenys hexamera (Brown) (AL, FL, LA, MS) (introduced-Japan)
Strumigenys lanuginosa Wheeler (FL) (introduced-Mexico or Central America)
Strumigenys margaritae Forel (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS) (introduced-Neotropics)
Strumigenys membranifera Emery (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC) (introduced-Old World Tropics-Europe?)
Strumigenys rogeri Emery (FL) (introduced-Africa?)
Strumigenys silvestrii Emery (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS) (introduced-South America)
Tapinoma litorale Wheeler (FL) (introduced?-Bahamas?)
Tapinoma melanocephalum (Fabricius) (FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC) (introduced-Indo-Pacific area, pest)
Technomyrmex difficilis Forel (FL, GA, LA, NC, SC) (previously misidentified as T. albipes (Smith), see Wetterer, 2008)  (introduced-Old World Tropics, pest)
Temnothorax allardycei (Mann) (FL) (introduced-Cuba, Bahamas)
Tetramorium bicarinatum (Nylander) (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC) (introduced-Old World Tropics-SE Asia, pest)
Tetramorium caespitum (Linnaeus) [Called T. sp. E by Schlick-Steiner (2006] (AL, MS, NC, SC, TN) (introduced?-possibly native-Europe, pest)
Tetramorium caldarium (Roger) (FL) (introduced-Indo-Europe, pest)
Tetramorium lanuginosum Mayr (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, SC) (introduced-Old World Tropics-SE Asia?, pest)
Tetramorium simillimum (F. Smith) ( FL, GA) (introduced-Europe, pest)
Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger) (FL) (introduced-South America, pest)

Potential Exotic Species of Concern to the Southeastern United States

Anoplolepis gracilis (Smith)
Lasius neglectus
Van Loon, Boomsma & Andrásfalvy
Myrmica rubra
Linnaeus

Literature Cited

Deyrup, M., S. Cover, and L. Davis. 2000. Exotic ants in Florida. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 126 293-325.

Lowe, S. Browne, M., Boudjelas, S. and De Poorter, M. 2000. 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien species: A Selection from the Global Invasive Species Database, Gland,Switzerland: Invasive Species Specialist Group. 12 pp.

McGlynn, T. P. 1999. The worldwide transfer of ants: geographical distribution and ecological invasions. Journal of Biogeography 26: 535-548.

Schlick-Steiner, B. C., F. M. Steiner, K. Moder, B. Seifert, M.Sanetra, E. Dyreson, C. Stauffer, and E. Christian. 2006. A multidisciplinary approach reveals cryptic diversity in Western Palearctic Tetramorium ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40: 259-273.

Steiner, F. M., B. C. Schlick-Steiner, J. C. Trager, K. Moder, M. Sanetra, E. Christian, and C. Stauffler. 2006. Tetramorium tsushimae, a new invasive ant in North America. Biological Invasions 8: 117-123.

Wetterer, J. K. 2008. Technomyrmex difficilis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae (in the West Indies). Florida Entomologist 91: 428-430.