What is a Small Honey Ant?

Small honey ants are monomorphic and referred to as false honey ants, known for their ability to store honey in their bodies.

What is a Small Honey Ant? A small honey ant can make and store honey, appear in brownish and golden yellow color, and is 2 to 8mm long. Moreover, it is known as a winter ant due to its tolerance against low temperatures and is found in Mexico, Australia, Illinois, and Indiana. They have small colonies based on 1200 to 1500 members and 1 to 5 queens. Furthermore, they like to eat sweet food items like honey, syrup, and fruits and live for almost 6 to 12 years. 

It is not difficult to control the population of Prenolepis imparis as these are easily attracted to baits prepared with sweet items like sugar and have smaller colonies.

Facts About Small Honey Ant

Scientific name Prenolepis imparis
Common name Winter or false honey ants
Location Illinois, Australia, Mexico, Indiana
Color Golden yellow, Brownish
Size of colony 1200 to 1500 members
Body size 2mm to 8mm
Source of nutrition Nectar, Honeydew, Sweet food
Expected lifespan 6 to 12 years
Number of queens 1 to 5

What type of ant is known as a small honey ant?

It is a type of ants that appear brownish, golden yellow, or black in color, having shiny bodies with smooth textures. These are known for making honey that is stored in their abdomen.

Their antennae have 12 segments like the big-headed ants, but it does not contain a club on the ends, and the first segment is longer than the others extending to the top of the head.

Additionally, their slender thorax has strong constriction dividing it into two parts. As a result, the gasters appear swollen when they have stored plenty of honeydew in their bodies to use in the future.

They have soft integuments and flexible bodies offering better movement. Furthermore, the abdomen is triangular and appears darker than the body color.

They do not have stingers used for stinging on the skin of predators, including larger insects and humans; that’s why they are considered nuisance pests and do not bite predators.

How big is a small honey ant?

The small honey ants are not big enough in size and are known for their tiny bodies. These range in size from 2 to 8mm, including workers of length around 2 to 5mm.

In addition, the female queens are a little larger in size than the workers as they carry eggs, store sperm in their bodies, and are almost 6 to 8mm long.

Their wings have varying lengths depending on castes, as queens have larger wings according to their size and are almost 8 to 10mm in length.

However, the reproductive males have shorter wings, almost 5 to 7mm, because their bodies are shorter than larger reproductive females.

Where do small honey ants live?

A few ant species can tolerate cold temperatures, like small honey ants that help them live in colder habitats. They are found in arid areas like Australia and Mexico having less rainfall.

Moreover, a large population of these insects is found in Indiana and Illinois as they are native species of these regions in the US.

In addition, they are also present in Washington and California, while Canada, Ontario, and Florida also contain a population of these tiny insects.

These species live outdoors and also build nests in indoor areas as their colonies have been found growing in potted plants.

Furthermore, they are also present in potted flowers and move inside homes to invade sweet food items like sugar syrup and fruits.

They build nests in the shaded areas that are open and covered like soil under stones and live in shrubs.

How long do small honey ants live?

Ants usually have a lesser lifespan as their workers can survive for only a short duration, but their queens can live for many years due to a better diet and protection.

These tiny insects appear larger as their bodies get swollen after consuming nectar. The heavy bodies do not allow them to move freely, as walking with a swollen abdomen is hard.

Accordingly, these small ants spend an excessive part of their lives inside nests, which improves the survival rate as they are less prone to attack than those roaming in the territory.

Moreover, they have an impressive lifespan and live for almost 6 to 8 years on average, while the queens can live for more than 10 to 12 years.

Why does the honey ant known as the winter ant?

You probably have heard about winter ants, the name used for honey ants globally, defining their tolerance for low temperatures.

Many of these insects build their nests under the soil and enter a hibernation stage during winter as their bodies are not capable of resisting the cold environment and low temperature.

Other species risk freezing to death while they remain active and are seen above the ground during the winter season.

These types of insects cannot live in a strict hibernation condition when they cannot move out to forage for food and reproduce.

However, they usually enter aestivation during hot weather when their activities slow down due to low metabolic rate when the temperature increases and drought conditions appear.

What do small honey ants like to eat?

The honey ants having smaller bodies, are interested in getting nutrition from the flowers by gaining access to their flower buds.

Moreover, they reach plants and suck plant sap, which adds good value to their diet. They like to eat sweet food items, including sweet nectar juice.

The cakes, sugar syrups, meat, and fruits like oranges are at risk of their attack because they make efforts to search for a good source of carbohydrates and proteins.

Selecting nutrient-rich food sources helps them meet their body’s nutritional requirements for longer. They can also farm aphids to get honeydew, the most preferred food type.

Furthermore, they can also support the growth of treehoppers and scaly insects capable of secreting honeydew as they develop symbiotic associations to benefit from each other.

What is the colony size of small honey ants?

Their colonies are not as big as other ants. However, depending on requirements, they consist of around 1200 to 1500 workers, and 1 to 5 queens are present.

When there is a decline in the population of their nest, the workers feed other female larvae tending to become a queen to meet up the loss of members by increasing the rate of egg production.

Three types of castes are observed in their colony, including the replete, which denotes a worker that stores food and regurgitates it back to provide nutrition to larvae or adults.

Moreover, plerergates are those members that store food to be used during food scarcity. Therefore, they are sterile and cannot get involved in the reproduction process.

Additionally, these provide food or stored nectar to other workers for their survival as they need the energy to perform the tasks.

They look and perform work similar to the plerergates and attain a round shape after storing honey. In addition, they ensure food availability to the colony members when they feel hungry.

Furthermore, it is interesting to know that these insects can change their body colors depending on the amount of food stored in their bodies and appear green, orange, and even red.