Solenopsis tenuis

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Solenopsis tenuis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Solenopsidini
Genus: Solenopsis
Species complex: molesta
Species: S. tenuis
Binomial name
Solenopsis tenuis
Mayr, 1878

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Specimen Labels


Solenopsis tenuis nests underground and under logs. Brood and sexuals are found in nests in June in rocky shale soils (Mexico). They were collected in subterranean traps and traps in vegetation baited with Vienna sausage in Mexico and Venezuela. They were also collected with cards baited with tuna. They have been collected in pitfall traps and litter extractions which indicates that they forage above ground. Habitats range from riparian oak/cottonwood forest, transitional dry tropical forest/wet montane forest, wet montane cloud forest, oak ridge forest, pine with hardwoods, montane hardwood forests, to virgin tropical rain forest.


A New World thief ant that is a member of the molesta species complex. (Key to New World Solenopsis Species Complexes)

Pacheco and Mackay (2013) – Worker - This is a minute, thinly bodied, concolorous pale to medium brown species. The head is quadrate and the eyes are relatively large with 5-7 ommatidia. The minor funicular segments are short, ranging from 0.08 to 0.10 mm in total length. The lateral clypeal teeth are poorly developed with the anterior clypeal border straight between the carinae. The propodeum is finely striated basally. Queen - The queen is medium brown in color. The lateral clypeal teeth are poorly defined and the extralateral teeth are absent. The head is longer than wide and finely punctate. What is striking about this queen is that the propodeal spiracle is large with a width of 0.100 mm. Male - The male is a small black specimen. The median ocellus is large (0.060 mm maximum diameter), the lateral ocelli are about 1/2 the diameter of the median ocellus. They are separated by a distance of 0.070 mm. The mandible is small, with two well-developed teeth (apicalmost) and two poorly developed teeth (basalmost). The anterior face of the petiole is nearly straight, meeting the posterior face at a relatively sharp angle. The apex of the petiole is concave when viewed from the front.

The workers of S. tenuis are similar to those of Solenopsis picta (SE USA), but can be separated by the longer scapes. Workers could be confused with Solenopsis corticalis (Mexico south to Brazil), but are often darker in coloration and the lateral clypeal teeth are more sharply developed. Workers may be confused with Solenopsis picea (Mexico south to Brazil), but the minor segments of the funiculus are shorter (usually> 0.12 mm in S. picea). Solenopsis tenuis is similar to the Galapagos species, Solenopsis gnoma, but can be distinguished as S. gnoma is markedly smaller in total length in both the worker and queen castes. Additionally, S. gnoma has coarser cephalic punctures and more developed lateral clypeal teeth.

Series consisting of only workers cannot always be correctly identified. If queens are available, they are distinguished being dark brown, with the eye relatively large, occupying about 1/2 of the length of the side of the head and the head nearly completely smooth and shiny, with a few, scattered, insignificant punctures. It is difficult to separate queens from those of Solenopsis castor (Mexico south to Bolivia), but where the distributions commonly overlap (Central America), it is usually concolorous medium brown including the appendages, whereas the queen of S. castor is dark brown to black, with brownish-yellow appendages.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 23.96189° to -31.632389°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Belize, Brazil (type locality), Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.


Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.



Association with Other Organisms

This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Orasema sixaolae (a parasite) (Wheeler & Wheeler, 1937; Baker et al., 2019; Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).



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

  • tenuis. Solenopsis tenuis Mayr, 1878: 874 (w.q.) BRAZIL (no state data).
    • Type-material: lectotype worker (by designation of Pacheco & Mackay, 2013: 325), 6 paralectotype workers, 2 paralectotype queens.
    • Type-locality: lectotype Brazil: (no further data) (J. Trail), “Nord-Brasilien in der Umgegend des Amazonenstromes”; paralectotypes with same data.
    • [Note: Pacheco & Mackay also designate 3 paralectotype males (in MHNG), but these specimens are from Argentina, not Brazil; males are not mentioned in the original type-series, nor is Argentina.]
    • Type-depository: NHMW.
    • Forel, 1913l: 222 (m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1955c: 135 (l.).
    • Status as species: Mayr, 1886d: 462; Cresson, 1887: 262; Dalla Torre, 1893: 77; Forel, 1895b: 130; Emery, 1896g: 86 (in key); Emery, 1906c: 124; Forel, 1908c: 363; Forel, 1908e: 67; Forel, 1912g: 8; Forel, 1913l: 222; Bruch, 1914: 223; Bruch, 1915: 532; Wheeler, W.M. 1916d: 324; Luederwaldt, 1918: 43; Emery, 1922e: 201; Wheeler, W.M. 1922c: 9; Wheeler, W.M. 1925a: 35; Borgmeier, 1927c: 107; Wheeler, W.M. 1942: 204; Ettershank, 1966: 143; Kempf, 1972a: 240; Brandão, 1991: 379; Bolton, 1995b: 391; Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012: 261; Pacheco & Mackay, 2013: 322 (redescription); Fernández & Serna, 2019: 816.
    • Senior synonym of minuiscens: Pacheco & Mackay, 2013: 322.
    • Distribution: Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela.
  • minuiscens. Solenopsis tenuis var. minuiscens Forel, 1912g: 8 (w.) BRAZIL (São Paulo).
    • Type-material: holotype worker.
    • Type-locality: Brazil: Santos (Ris).
    • Type-depository: MHNG.
    • Subspecies of tenuis: Luederwaldt, 1918: 43; Emery, 1922e: 201; Santschi, 1923c: 255; Borgmeier, 1927c: 108; Ettershank, 1966: 142; Kempf, 1972a: 240; Bolton, 1995b: 389.
    • Junior synonym of tenuis: Pacheco & Mackay, 2013: 322.

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=6). TL 1.14-1.32 (1.22); HL 0.360-0.408 (0.373); HW 0.294-0.342 (0.308); EL 0.036-0.048 (0.038); ED 0.030-0.036 (0.031); SL 0.240-0.276 (0.256); FSL 0.078-0.108 (0.086); CI 80.0-83.8 (82.6); SI 66.2-76.7 (68.7); PL 0.060; PW 0.084-0.096 (0.088); PI 62.5-71.4 (68.4); PPL 0.084-0.102 (0.093); PPW 0.102-0.120 (0.112); PPI 75.0-94.4 (83.2); WL 0.240-0.300 (0.271); PSL 0.030-0.036 (0.031); PSW 0.024-0.030 (0.029).

Small; concolorous pale brown to dark brown; head slightly longer than wide, finely punctate; lateral clypeal teeth poorly developed, extralateral teeth absent; clypeal carinae weakly defined; scapes long, nearly reach posterior border of head; minor funicular segments 3-8 short; eyes moderately large, 5-7 ommatidia; pronotum smooth and shiny; mesopleuron smooth and shiny; posterior propodeal margin rounded; propodeal spiracle moderately large, round; metapleuron horizontally striated; petiole wider than postpetiole viewed laterally; both petiole and postpetiole smooth and shiny, lacking tooth or flange ventrally.

Moderately hairy, pilosity yellow and light brown; erect and suberect hairs scattered throughout body surfaces; scape with numerous appressed and suberect hairs; hairs on petiole long 0.063-0.120 mm in total length, hairs on petiole and postpetiole curve posteriorly.


Pacheco and Mackay (2013) - Measurements (n=2). HL 0.636-0.642 (0.639); HW 0.600; EL 0.192-0.204 (0.198); ED 0.204-0.210 (0.207); MOL 0.042-0.048 (0.045); MOD 0.048-0.054 (0.051); SL 0.450; CI 93.5-94.3 (93.9); SI 70.1; PSL 0.096-0.102 (0.099); PSW 0.096-0.102 (0.099); PL 0.144; PW 0.228-0.240 (0.234); PI 60.0-63.2 (61.6); WL 0.900-0.960 (0.930).

(Queen description based on broken types). Moderately large; concolorous medium brown; head longer than wide, wider posteriorly than anteriorly, giving triangular appearance, finely punctate; lateral clypeal teeth poorly developed, extralateral teeth absent; clypeal carinae poorly defined; frontal lobes vertically striated; scape long, nearly reaching posterior border of head; eyes large, extend 0.102 mm past lateral edge of head; medial ocellus small, without pigment; mesosoma smooth and shiny; posterior propodeal margin rounded viewed laterally; propodeal spiracle relatively large, circular; metapleuron horizontally striated; petiolar peduncle lacking tooth or flange ventrally; petiolar spiracle relatively large, maximum diameter 0.030 mm.

Abundantly hairy, pilosity light brown and yellow; erect and suberect hairs of various lengths covering all body surfaces; suberect hairs on dorsum of head 0.120 mm; hairs on dorsum of mesosoma ranging from 0.060-0.150 mm; hairs on petiole up to 0.180 mm, curve posteriorly.


Pacheco and Mackay (2013) - Small; concolorous black; head wider than long, smooth and shiny; anterior clypeal margin convex, lacking teeth or carinae; eye relatively small; lateral ocelli about 1/2 diameter of median ocellus, relatively large, separated by 0.07 mm; mesosoma smooth and shiny; anterior face of petiole nearly straight; apex of petiole concave when viewed anteriorly.

Abundantly hairy, pilosity light brown and yellow; erect and suberect hairs covering all body surfaces; hairs on petiole and postpetiole curve posteriorly.

Type Material

Worker Brazil, Amazonia (lectotype worker, 6 paralectotype workers and 2 paralectotype queens [here designated] (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna), and 3 paralectotype males [here designated] (Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève), Rosario Santa Fe (Bruch) # 23b. Solenopsis tenuis minuiscens, Brazil, Lomtos (Ris) (Typus, worker Coll. Forel [seen] MHNG).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Bruch C. 1914. Catálogo sistemático de los formícidos argentinos. Revista del Museo de La Plata 19: 211-234.
  • Cuezzo, F. 1998. Formicidae. Chapter 42 in Morrone J.J., and S. Coscaron (dirs) Biodiversidad de artropodos argentinos: una perspectiva biotaxonomica Ediciones Sur, La Plata. Pages 452-462.
  • 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.
  • Fernández, F. and S. Sendoya. 2004. Lista de las hormigas neotropicales. Biota Colombiana Volume 5, Number 1.
  • Forel A. 1908. Ameisen aus Sao Paulo (Brasilien), Paraguay etc. gesammelt von Prof. Herm. v. Ihering, Dr. Lutz, Dr. Fiebrig, etc. Verhandlungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Zoologisch-Botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 58: 340-418.
  • Forel A. 1908. Catálogo systemático da collecção de formigas do Ceará. Boletim do Museu Rocha 1(1): 62-69.
  • Forel A. 1912. Formicides néotropiques. Part IV. 3me sous-famille Myrmicinae Lep. (suite). Mémoires de la Société Entomologique de Belgique. 20: 1-32.
  • Forel A. 1913. Fourmis d'Argentine, du Brésil, du Guatémala & de Cuba reçues de M. M. Bruch, Prof. v. Ihering, Mlle Baez, M. Peper et M. Rovereto. Bulletin de la Société Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles. 49: 203-250.
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  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Kusnezov N. 1978. Hormigas argentinas: clave para su identificación. Miscelánea. Instituto Miguel Lillo 61:1-147 + 28 pl.
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  • Maes, J.-M. and W.P. MacKay. 1993. Catalogo de las hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de Nicaragua. Revista Nicaraguense de Entomologia 23.
  • 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.
  • Santschi F. 1923. Solenopsis et autres fourmis néotropicales. Revue Suisse de Zoologie 30: 245-273.
  • Vittar, F. 2008. Hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de la Mesopotamia Argentina. INSUGEO Miscelania 17(2):447-466
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