Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Solenopsis papuana
(Papuan thief ant)

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Datasheet

Solenopsis papuana (Papuan thief ant)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 15 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Solenopsis papuana
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Papuan thief ant
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Solenopsis papuana is a native ant of the Pacific region that thrives in the company of other more major invasive ants, but is not a major pest species on its ...

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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Solenopsis papuana (Emery 1900)

Preferred Common Name

  • Papuan thief ant

Other Scientific Names

  • Solenopsis cleptis Mann
  • Solenopsis cleptis var. vitiensis Mann
  • Solenopsis dahlii Forel

Summary of Invasiveness

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Solenopsis papuana is a native ant of the Pacific region that thrives in the company of other more major invasive ants, but is not a major pest species on its own. It has been introduced to Hawaii and has been able to invade intact forest land.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Hymenoptera
  •                         Family: Formicidae
  •                             Genus: Solenopsis
  •                                 Species: Solenopsis papuana

Description

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Solenopsis papuana are very small monomorphic ants. They have a light reddish yellow to medium reddish brown colouration. The total length of workers is around 1-2mm. Antennae are 10-segmented with a 2-segmented club. Eyes are small to medium in size and contain less than 10 ommatidia. The mandibles can have 4 or 5 teeth. The head is subquadrate, and is longer than it is wide. The metanotal groove of this species is distinct and the petiole is higher than the postpetiole. All the dorsal surfaces of S. papuana have erect setae. The gaster is oval with the first segment longer than half the total length (Harris et al. 2005).

Please follow this link for a fully illustrated Lucid key to common invasive ants [Hymenoptera: Formicidae] of the Pacific Island region [requires the most recent version of Java installed]. The factsheet on Solenopsis papuana contains an overview, diagnostic features, comparision charts, images, nomenclature and links. (Sarnat, 2008).

Distribution

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Geographical range
Native range: Australasia-Pacific Region (Wetterer, 2002).
Known introduced range: Hawai‘i and New Zealand (Hoffman, 2003 and Lester 2005.)

    Distribution Table

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    The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

    Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

    North America

    USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
    -HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011

    Oceania

    American SamoaPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
    Cook IslandsPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
    FijiPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
    French PolynesiaPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
    New ZealandPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
    SamoaPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
    Solomon IslandsPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
    TongaPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011

    Habitat

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    Found in tropical rainforests, Solenopsis papuana colonies often nest in soil and are most often associated with rotting wood in or near soil, or under rocks. This species has occasionally been found inhabiting dry forested areas. (Harris et al. 2005).

    Habitat List

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    CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
    Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
    Natural forests Present, no further details

    Biology and Ecology

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    Nutrition
    Solenopsis papuana workers form trails to foraging sites but will also forage by spreading over an area (Harris et al. 2005).

      Means of Movement and Dispersal

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      Introduction pathways to new locations
      Other:S. papuana is predominantly reported as live workers associated with taro and coconut imports (Harris and Berry, 2005).

        Pathway Causes

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        CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
        Food Yes Yes

        Impact

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        Studies have been conducted that suggest a negative interaction between Solenopsis papuana and indigenous invertebrates. Authors have suggested that they present a grave threat to native diversity, however arguments have surfaced which suggest the impact might not be as severe as originally thought, but more research is needed before a conclusion can be drawn (Gillespie and Reimer, 1993;Wetterer, 2002). S. papuana is an inconspicuous species (Wilson & Taylor 1967) whose arrival could go unnoticed (Harris et al. 2005).

        Threatened Species

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        Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
        Hylaeus anthracinus (anthricinan yellow-faced bee)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014a
        Hylaeus assimulans (assimulans yellow-faced bee)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014b
        Hylaeus facilis (easy yellow-faced bee)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014c
        Hylaeus hilaris (hilaris yellow-faced bee)USA ESA species proposed for listing USA ESA species proposed for listingHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014d
        Hylaeus kuakea (Hawaiian yellow-faced bee)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014e
        Hylaeus longicepsUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014f
        Hylaeus manaUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014g

        Social Impact

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        Solenopsis papuana is not known to sting people (Gruner, 2000).

        Risk and Impact Factors

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        • Predation

        Uses

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        The mound-building activities of non-native Solenopsis spp. alter physical and biogeochemical properties of soils, and can lead to increased soil aerationand infiltrability, elevated soil pH, increased phosphorous and potassium levels, lowered surface soil bulk density, change in organic matter, altered soil texture and enhanced fungal abundance. These influences are further enhanced by plant uptake and excretion in the rhizosphere, and cause other flow-on effects within ecosystems. This an area that has not been well studied, and more research is warranted (DeFauw et al. 2008 and references therein).

        Detection and Inspection

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        The Pacific Invasive Ant Key (PIAKey) manual Pacific Invasive Ants Taxonomy Workshop Manual can both be used in identifying invasive ants in the Pacific region.

        Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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        Solenopsis spp. may also be confused with smaller species of Monomorium spp. In this case, the distinctly 2-segmented club will allow the identification of Solenopsis spp. (Harris and Berry, 2005). Solenopsis spp. workers are most often confused with workers of Oligomyrmex spp. They can be separated by the single central hair on the front margin of the clypeus (paired hairs are present in Oligomyrmex) and the rounded rear face of the propodeum (spines, teeth or flanges are present in Oligomyrmex) (Harris and Berry, 2005).

        Prevention and Control

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        Preventative measures: The Pacific Ant Prevention Programme is a proposal prepared for the Pacific Plant Protection Organisation and Regional Technical Meeting for Plant Protection. This plan aims to prevent the red imported fire ant and other invasive ant species with economic, environmental or social impacts from establishing within or spreading between countries in the Pacific.

        Chemical Amdro® (hydramethylnon) is very effective at controlling S. papuana's relative, S. invicta. Presto® (fipronil) and Xstinguish® (fipronil) also appear to be highly effective baits for S. invicta and would most likely be effective against S. papuana. Engage® (methoprene) and Distance® (pyriproxyfen) are insect growth regulators (IGR) that were manufactured in Australia to combat S. invicta. These two chemicals may be viable control options for S. papuana (Stanley, 2004). Gruner (2000) found that S. papuana was abundant on peanut butter baits in Hawai‘i.

        Management Information

        Compiled by the IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)

        1.0 Preventative measures
        Prevention, quarantine and rapid response are the best management strategies for preventing the establishment of invasive ants. To be successful they require active surveying, early detection and subsequent rapid treatment procedures often along with quarantines. This type of management approach remains the most practical strategy for dealing with invasive ants (Krushelnycky Loope and Reimer 2005).
        1.1 Ant Prevention in the Pacific Region
        The Pacific island region includes over 25 countries, most of which are served by two important regional international organizations, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), which addresses agricultural issues, and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), which addresses biodiversity issues. The biodiversity of the Pacific is particularly vulnerable to effects of invasive species (SPREP 2000).
        Special concern regarding ant invasions has arisen now that the red imported fire ant occurs at or near the coast on both sides of the Pacific, and the little fire ant has arrived in Hawaii and is spreading in the western Pacific. These and other species threaten all Pacific islands, including Hawaii and the U.S. affiliated islands of Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, American Samoa, and Palau.
        The SPC-Plant Protection Service (SPC-PPS) works in partnership with 22 Pacific members to maintain effective quarantine systems and to assist with regionally coordinated eradication/containment efforts. Priorities for emphasis are determined by member countries, which meet periodically as the Pacific Plant Protection Organization (PPPO).
        A workshop sponsored by the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) of IUCN was held in Auckland, New Zealand, in September 2003, and resulted in the compilation of a draft Pacific Ant Prevention Plan (Pacific Invasive Ant Group 2004). The Pacific Ant Prevention Plan was presented to and embraced by 21 Pacific island countries and territories present at a PPPO meeting, the “Regional Biosecurity, Plant Protection and Animal Health” meeting held by SPC in Suva, Fiji, in March 2004 (Pacific Plant Protection Organization 2004). Like Hawaii’s Red Imported Fire Ant Prevention Plan, the Pacific Ant Prevention Plan is still a conceptual work, but ISSG and others are working toward obtaining the international funding needed to implement the plan with the assistance of SPC. The project presents an exceptional opportunity for agriculture and conservation interests to work together with international and bilateral aid entities at regional and country levels to build much needed quarantine capacity. Increased quarantine protection is desperately needed by PICT in order to address invasions that jeopardize both agriculture and biodiversity.
        The information for this section was sourced directly from Krushelnycky Loope and Reimer (2005).
        2.0 Chemical
        2.1 General Considerations
        Most if not all ant eradications have employed the use of baits and toxicants, many of which are developed for agriculture or urban settings. However, indiscriminate pesticide use in natural areas and fragile island ecosystems is not advocated. While some toxins such as hydramethylnon break down quickly in the environment, any and all pesticide use is likely to be accompanied by at least some undesirable non-target effects. These include increased runoff or drift outside the intended area, adverse affects on beneficial insects and non-target impacts on native species (Krushelnycky Loope and Reimer 2005).
        Non-target impacts must be weighed up carefully against the benefits of ant eradication. Cleary, treating whole ecosystems or islands is too risky as entire populations of rare invertebrates may be at risk of extinction. On the other hand, eradicating populations of exotic ants before they become established in a natural ecosystem or island has the potential to prevent the potentially disastrous consequences of ant invasions (Krushelnycky Loope and Reimer 2005).
        Baits should be designed with the specific foraging strategies of the target ant in mind. The preferred size, type and dispersal of bait and the nesting, foraging and behavioural traits of the ant should be considered in the planning stages of the operation. The use of appropriately designed and chosen baits and toxins will help reduce the impact of toxins on native ants and non-target fauna (McGlynn 1999). Gruner (2000) found that S. papuana was abundant on peanut butter baits in Hawaii.
        2.1 Ant Toxins
        Ant toxins can be classed into three categories: “stomach” poisons (or metabolic inhibitors), Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) and neurotoxins. Stomach toxins include hydramethylnon (eg: Maxforce® or Amdro®), sulfuramid and sodium tetraborate decahydrate (eg: Borax). IGRs include compounds such as methoprene, fenoxycarb or pyriproxyfen. Neurotoxins include fipronil (eg: Xstinguish®). Stomach poison kills all workers and reproductives it comes into contact with. IGRs work by disrupting development of the queens ovarian tissues, effectively sterilising the colony. Neurological inhibitors disrupt insect central nervous systems by blocking neuron receptors. The onset of mortality is contingent upon the type of active ingredient. In general, ant baits that contain active ingredients that are metabolic inhibitors have a two to three day delay before extensive mortality occurs in the colony (Oi Vail and Williams 2000). Baits containing IGRs take several weeks before colony populations are reduced substantially (Oi Vail and Williams 2000). The latter (IGRs) provide gradual long-term control, while metabolic inhibitors provide short-term, localised and rapid control (Oi Vail and Williams 2000). This is because while stomach poisons are faster than IGRs, they sometimes eliminate workers before the toxin can be effectively distributed throughout the colony (O’Dowd Green and Lake 1999).
        Amdro® (hydramethylnon) is very effective at controlling Solenopsis invicta, a relative of this ant. Presto® (fipronil) and Xstinguish® (fipronil) also appear to be highly effective baits for S. invicta and would most likely be effective against Solenopsis papuana (Stanley 2004). Engage® (methoprene) and Distance® (pyriproxyfen) are insect growth regulators (IGR) which may be viable control options for S. papuana (Stanley 2004).
        3.0 Research
        Biosecurity New Zealand, the branch of government responsible for managing invasive species, has responded to a series of incursions of exotic invasive ant species by relying heavily on a small number of baits and toxins. The absence of a wide variety of effective baits may compromise the success of incursion responses. As a first step to ensuring effective incursion response, Biosecurity New Zealand commissioned Landcare Research to research and review international literature about the baits and toxins used for ant control (see Stanley 2004). The next step will be testing the most promising of these against a selected group of high-risk invasive ant species.

        References
        Gruner, D. S. 2000. Distribution of the Little Fire Ant Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger) in Hawaii. University of Hawaii (Manoa) and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. [Accessed 2 April 2007, from: http://www.hawaii.edu/gk-12/evo/Ant_Report00.pdf]
        O’Dowd, D.J., Green, P.T. and Lake, P.S. 1999. Status, Impact, and Recommendations for Research and Management of Exotic Invasive Ants in Christmas Island National Park. Centre for the Analysis and Management of Biological Invasions: Clayton (Victoria, Australia). [Accessed 4 April 2007, from: http://www.issg.org/database/species/reference_files/Christmas_Island_Report.pdf]
        Oi, D.H., Vail, K.M. and Williams, D.F. 2000. Bait distribution among multiple colonies of Pharaoh ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), Journal of Economic Entomology 93 (4): 1247 - 1255. [Accessed 13 Friday 2007, from: http://www.bioone.org.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/archive/0022-0493/93/4/pdf/i0022-0493-93-4-1247.pdf]
        Stanley, M.C. 2004. Review of the Efficacy of Baits Used for Ant Control and Eradication (Landcare Research Contract Report: LC0405/044). [Accessed 29 March 2007, from: http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/research/biocons/invertebrates/ants/BaitEfficacyReport.pdf

        Bibliography

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        DeFauw, S. L., Vogt, J.T. & Boykin, D. L. (2008). Imported Fire Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Bioturbationand Its Influences on Soils and Turfgrass in a Sod Production Agroecosystem. Journal of Entomological Science 43(1): 121-127.

        Gruner, D. S. 2000. Distribution of the Little Fire Ant Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger) in Hawaii. A partnership of K-12 schools, the University of Hawaii, and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.University of Hawaii at Manoa.

        Harris, R. & Berry, J. (n.d.). Solenopsis papuana. Invasive Ant Threat: Information Sheet 26. Landcare Research.

        Harris, R.; Abbott, K.; Barton, K.; Berry, J.; Don, W.; Gunawardana, D.; Lester, P.; Rees, J.; Stanley, M.; Sutherland, A.; Toft, R. 2005: Invasive ant pest risk assessment project for Biosecurity New Zealand. Series of unpublished Landcare Research contract reports to Biosecurity New Zealand. BAH/35/2004-1. http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/research/biocons/invertebrates/Ants/ant_pest_risk.asp

        Hoffman, P. 2003. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Blackburn's Sphinx Moth. Federal Register: June 10, 2003 & DOI: Fish and Wildlife Service. http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-SPECIES/2003/June/Day-10/e14144.htm

        Keall, J. B. 1980. Some ants recently intercepted entering New Zealand (Hymenoptera : Formicidae). Plant Health Diagnostic Station, MAF, Private Bag, Levin. New Zealand Entomologist 7(2).

        Lester, P. J. 2005. Determinants for the successful establishment of exotic ants in New Zealand. Diversity and Distributions 11:279-288.

        McGlynn, T.P. 1999. The Worldwide Transfer of Ants: Geographical Distribution and Ecological Invasions, Journal of Biogeography 26(3): 535-548.

        Pacific Ant Prevention Programme, March 2004. Pacific Invasive Ant Group (PIAG) on behalf of the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).

        Sarnat, E. M. (December 4, 2008) PIAkey: Identification guide to ants of the Pacific Islands, Edition 2.0, Lucid v. 3.4. USDA/APHIS/PPQ Center for Plant Health Science and Technology and University of California — Davis. http://www.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/PIAkey/index.html

        Stanley, M. C. 2004. Review of the efficacy of baits used for ant control and eradication. Landcare Research Contract Report: LC0405/044. Prepared for: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/research/biocons/invertebrates/ants/BaitEfficacyReport.pdf

        U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2003. CANDIDATE ASSESSMENT AND LISTING PRIORITY ASSIGNMENT FORM.

        Vargo, D. L. 2000. Soil Invertebrates of American Samoa . Micronesica 33(1/2):1-10, 2000

        Wetterer, J. K. 2002. Ants of Tonga (1). (Statistical Data Included).Pacific Science, April 2002 v56 i2 p125(11).

        Wetterer, J. K. 2002. Solenopsis papuana. Personal Communication.

        Wetterer, J. L., and D. L. Vargo. 2003. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Samoa. Pacific Science, Oct 2003 v57 i4 p409(11).

        References

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        ISSG, 2011. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. http://www.issg.org/database

        US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Hylaeus anthracinus. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 36 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/I0GP_I01.pdf

        US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Hylaeus assimulans. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 33 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/I0GQ_I01.pdf

        US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Hylaeus facilis. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 32 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/I0GY_I01.pdf

        US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Hylaeus hilaris. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 31 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/I0HT_I01.pdf

        US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Hylaeus kuakea. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 29 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/I0VM_I01.pdf

        US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Hylaeus longiceps. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 33 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/I0HC_I01.pdf

        US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Hylaeus mana. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 30 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/I0VL_I01.pdf

        Contributors

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          Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) Updates completed with support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF)- Biosecurity New Zealand

          Last Modified: Friday, September 04, 2009

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