Thief Ant


Actual Size: 1.5 to 2.2 mm

Characteristics: Brown or yellowish in color.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: No

Habitat: Typically builds nests in exposed soil, beneath rocks, or in rotting wood. May also nest in woodwork or masonry if indoors.


  • Primarily searches for high-protein or fatty foods.
  • May nest near other ants to steal food and larvae from them.
  • Often feed on dead rodents and insects, causing a health concern should they contaminate pantry products.

Thief Ants in North Jersey

Named after their habit of stealing food and larvae from other species of ants, thief ants are a common problem in North Jersey. They’re known for building galleries that connect to nearby nests, which are too small for other ant species to enter but provide the thief ants with easy access to the nest’s resources. Though thief ants primarily feed on dead rodents and insects, they may also search for greasy foods like potato chips. If they infest your pantry, you should throw away any contaminated food, as it could contain bacteria from any animal carcasses that the ants previously ate.

Thief Ant Habitat

Thief ants typically stay outdoors and build nests in open soil, beneath rocks, or inside of rotting wood. They may also enter homes and businesses through small gaps in the foundation, using electrical wiring or plumbing fixtures to move from room to room. Though they primarily infest human structures to get away from cold weather, they can be a problem at any time of year. Thief ants can also pose a threat to our pantries as they search for protein-rich or fatty foods.

Thief Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

Though thief ants aren’t very aggressive and rarely bite, they are considered dangerous to human health because they feed on dead rats, mice, and insects. If they access your home or business, they’ll carry the bacteria and other contaminants from the carcasses into your space – and, often, right into your food. Thief ants often trail along the interior of cabinets or along walls, baseboards, and tree branches. Since they are so small, they are even able to sneak into packaged foods.

Think you’re dealing with thief ants? Get in touch with the licensed ant control technicians at Eastern Pest Services! We can help you eliminate the pests once and for all, so you won’t have to worry about ants crawling all over your counters or contaminating your food.