Are you ready for ant season to begin? I sure am! We’ve been having some unusually cold and rainy weather, so the ants haven’t been very active. One warmer afternoon last week, however, I did spot a few ants other than rover ants. They were Solenopsis amblychila workers. Solenopsis amblychila workers are pale, golden yellow. Solenopsis amblychila can tolerate dry conditions. Colonies of this species are found mostly in the Sonoran Desert, that is southern Arizona, southern California, northern Mexico and Baja California, although they do extend further east into Texas as well.
These workers are nesting at one of our local parks, along a sidewalk. The surrounding area is compacted, dry Bermuda grass trampled by thousands of feet. The attraction may be a Solenopsis xyloni colony about a foot away, or may be a nearby ramada full of messy, snacking children.
I found a queen last year, but it met with an accident (also child-related as it turns out) and never had a chance to produce eggs.
Dale Ward has more information and videos of Solenopsis amblychila workers visiting extrafloral nectaries on cactus.
Have you ever seen Solenopsis amblychila? Doesn’t seem like a lot of research has been done on this species.
3 Replies to “Ant of the Week: Solenopsis amblychila”
In Dec 2010, I found them in Kenedy Co, Texas coming to hot dog baits. I was trying to find S.geminata/xyloni in an area with live oaks growing on deep sand where I had previously only seen gem/xyl. Seven baits were attended by amblychila at about 11am – noon. Before this we had only found them twice in the area at dusk.
Interesting observations. I think it will be definitely worthwhile to spend a little more time studying these local fire ants.
I’m so glad I saved this beautiful native fire ant species taxonomically, from synonymy under S aurea. But I agree, now that we have morphhological characters that reliably distinguish it (at least the majors), we need to know more about how it differs ecologically from the others.