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Insect and Spider Identification: Strange new ants in Bay Area suburb?

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Forum: Insect and Spider IdentificationReplies: 5, Views: 47
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El Sobrante, CA

September 22, 2013
4:23 PM

Post #9667354

I rescued this little guy from a line of run-of-the-mill Argentine ants in my bathroom.

In the past few days, I've been seeing these guys in my backyard (always traveling in twos, head to tail), but I've never seen them in the area before.

At first I thought they were just male Argentine ants who were coming out of the woodwork, as they occasionally do, but that explanation seemed a bit off from the beginning. The morphology of these guys is smoother and more continuous compared to Argentine ants, who are very noticeably segmented.

After seeing house ants attacking a couple of these guys in my bathroom (in twos, remember), I knew something was definitely weird. First of all, why were these ants so far into my bathroom at the same time as the house ants? If they were sworn enemies, wouldn't they have been killed long before they reached my bathroom door? (I should note that there aren't many ant entrances into my bathroom from the outside. However they got there, they would have likely had to have followed the house ants.)

Second of all, they were following the ant line in my bathroom as if they belonged to the colony. They were waltzing in very carelessly, certainly not in attack mode. As soon as they bumped into an Argentine ant, however, they were viciously attacked. If they escaped and bumped into another house ant somewhere else, they were attacked again. House ants were nearly jumping on top of them. Maybe they do belong the colony, but the colony stopped recognizing them? Weird. There were also shredded segments of other insects like these being carried away in other parts of the line by the attackers.

Finally, I have been seeing them EVERYWHERE outside for the past few days, but always in sparse pairs, and not going anywhere in particular. And in comparing them to pictures of the local male ants, they look nothing alike.

Can anybody identify these buggers? And if they are local or native, can anyone possibly explain why I haven't seen them before? They are approximately twice as large as Argentine ants and don't appear to have any antennae (so they may not be ants at all, possibly). My location is the 94803 area code in the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States.



(P.S. Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures. I did the best I could with my smartphone camera. I'll post better quality pictures if I can soon. :D)

Thumbnail by amanisdude   Thumbnail by amanisdude   Thumbnail by amanisdude   Thumbnail by amanisdude   Thumbnail by amanisdude
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El Sobrante, CA

September 22, 2013
5:47 PM

Post #9667425

UPDATE: I just found that they do have antennae, but they are extremely small (smaller than their head).

And the more I look at them, the less they look like ants. Why they were in my house seemingly to try to blend in with the ants, I have no idea. They don't even fight back when the ants attack them, though they do try to get away.

Also, in examining why the ants are in my bathroom in the first place, it seems that there is no other reason than to attack these guys, who weren't anywhere to be seen beforehand. There are plenty of them now, though (mostly dead). Weird.


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El Sobrante, CA

September 22, 2013
6:01 PM

Post #9667441

A few more pictures, showing the house ants for comparison:

Thumbnail by amanisdude   Thumbnail by amanisdude         
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Minot, ND

September 22, 2013
6:26 PM

Post #9667463

If they were traveling in twos, there is a good chance they could be reproductive termites...
Powder Springs, GA
(Zone 7b)

September 23, 2013
4:15 AM

Post #9667709

That's what I was kind of thinking they might - termites. Had them earlier this year coming up in the basement by the hundreds (reminded me of ants but they were flying) so had to get the exterminating company in right away..


Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

September 28, 2013
5:43 PM

Post #9672675

I've heard that ants attack termites.

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