Solenopsis subterranea

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Solenopsis subterranea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Solenopsidini
Genus: Solenopsis
Species complex: pygmaea
Species: S. subterranea
Binomial name
Solenopsis subterranea
Mackay, W.P. & Vinson, 1989

Solenopsis subterranea casent0104887 profile 1.jpg

Solenopsis subterranea casent0104887 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

Specimens of S. subterranea were captured in subterranean Vienna sausage baited traps at 10 cm in depth in the United States (Mackay and Vinson 1989) and in the same type of traps in Costa Rica and Venezuela. They were collected in a subterranean trap baited with a mealworm in Louisiana. Habitats include an open grassy area in an oak forest in the US, brushy grasslands in Venezuela and a weedy area in a pine and hardwood forest in Mexico.


A New World thief ant that is a member of the pygmaea species complex.

Pacheco and Mackay (2013) – Worker - This species is recognized by having an elongated, coarsely punctated head. The eyes are minute with about one ommatidium. The head and mesosoma are covered with short (0.020 mm) erect and sub erect hairs. The minor funicular segments are short at 0.060 mm.

The short erect and suberect hairs on the head and mesosoma would easily separate this species from all other species in the United States in the pygmaea complex, except Solenopsis tonsa. It can be separated from S. tonsa as the head of S. subterranea is slender viewed laterally, compared to the robust, thick profile of S. tonsa. It could be easily confused with the Mexican species Solenopsis isopilis and the South American Solenopsis minutissima, which both have short hairs on the pronotum and gaster, which are all about equal in length (0.030-0.048 mm in length). It can be separated from S. isopilis by being more hairy, with more than 20 erect hairs on the outline of the pronotum when seen in profile (S. isopilis only has approximately 10 erect hairs). It can be separated from S. minutissima as its eyes are small, but well-defined (poorly defined, nearly absent in S. minutissima).

Keys including this Species


Louisiana and Texas south to Colombia and Venezuala.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb



Known only from the worker caste.


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • subterranea. Solenopsis (Diplorhoptrum) subterranea Mackay, W.P. & Vinson, 1989a: 175, figs. 1-4 (w.) U.S.A.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Pacheco and Mackay (2013) - Measurements (n=5). TL 1.02-1.14 (1.07); HL 0.318-0.342 (0.326); HW 0.240-0.270 (0.252); EL 0.018-0.030 (0.023); ED 0.018-0.030 (0.022); SL 0.192-0.198 (0.193); FSL 0.060-0.066 (0.062); CI 74.1-83.3 (77.2); SI 57.9-60.4 (59.2); PL 0.066-0.078 (0.072); PW 0.084-0.090 (0.086); PI 78.6-86.7 (83.3); PPL 0.072-0.084 (0.078); PPW 0.078-0.102 (0.091); PPI 80.0-92.3 (85.8); WL 0.210-0.240 (0.222); PSL 0.024-0.030 (0.025); PSW 0.018-0.030 (0.024).

Head elongate, densely, coarsely and evenly punctate; eyes small, round, with at least one ommatidium; scape short, does not reach posterior border of head; clypeal lateral teeth well developed; extralateral teeth angular, poorly defined, but interrupt anterior clypeal border; clypeal carinae weakly developed; minor segments 3-8 of funiculus short; petiole wider than postpetiole viewed laterally; subpeduncular process lacking tooth; postpetiolar node oval when viewed laterally and dorsally.

Head and mesosoma covered with short (0.020 mm), erect and suberect hairs approximately equal in length.

Type Material

(holotype worker and 20 paratypes workers are deposited in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, additional 180 paratype workers are deposited in the National Museum of Natural History, American Museum of Natural History, California Academy of Sciences, William and Emma Mackay Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, The Natural History Museum, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Field Museum of Natural History, Florida State Collection of Arthropods , Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo, MACN, TAMU [Mackay and Vinson, 1989]), USA, Texas, Brazos Co., 10k N Kurten.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Dash S. T. and L. M. Hooper-Bui. 2008. Species diversity of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Louisiana. Conservation Biology and Biodiversity. 101: 1056-1066
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Del Toro, I., M. Vázquez, W.P. Mackay, P. Rojas and R. Zapata-Mata. Hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de Tabasco: explorando la diversidad de la mirmecofauna en las selvas tropicales de baja altitud. Dugesiana 16(1):1-14.
  • Donoso D. A. 2014. Assembly mechanisms shaping tropical litter ant communities. Ecography 37 doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00253.x
  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Longino J. T. 2013. Ants of Nicargua. Consulted on 18 Jan 2013.
  • Longino J. T., and R. K. Colwell. 2011. Density compensation, species composition, and richness of ants on a neotropical elevational gradient. Ecosphere 2(3): 16pp.
  • MacKay W. P., and S. B. Vinson. 1989. Two new ants of the genus Solenopsis (Diplorhoptrum) from eastern Texas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 91: 175-178.
  • O'Keefe S. T., J. L. Cook, T. Dudek, D. F. Wunneburger, M. D. Guzman, R. N. Coulson, and S. B. Vinson. 2000. The Distribution of Texas Ants. The Southwestern Entomologist 22: 1-92.
  • Pacheco J. A., and W. P. Mackay. 2013. The systematics and biology of the New World thief ants of the genus Solenopsis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 501 pp.
  • Silva R.R., and C. R. F. Brandao. 2014. Ecosystem-Wide Morphological Structure of Leaf-Litter Ant Communities along a Tropical Latitudinal Gradient. PLoSONE 9(3): e93049. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093049
  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133