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I live in NYC and these fellas started popping out near my computer screen and desk. They don't seem interested in food as my sister usually leaves candy wrappers around. They however are stinky, I tried to catch one with a tape and I can smell the odors they give off like 4 inches away. They got these stingers on their butt so I think they could be a species of fire ant. They're also really tiny. As shown on a q tip here.

enter image description here enter image description here

(click to enlarge)

Finally could these be bites? They are really itchy and I get them overnight.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ They look like termite, rather than ants. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 7:08
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    $\begingroup$ @JackRod all wrong for a termite. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ A close up on one of the ones that is curled up and dead would be a big help. a side shot would be best. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ Many, ant species have stinger. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 0:51

4 Answers 4

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odorous house ant

Without a better picture I can't be certain but based on what anatomy we can see and you mentioning smell I would guess the odorous house ant.

They do stink when crushed, it should smell like blue cheese and turpentine. They are common house pest in NYC drawn by sweets and water.

They do not sting or bite so they are likely non connected but again without a better picture it is hard to be certain. I suggest asking about medical concerns on the medical stack as they are off topic here.

As a small consolation at least they are a native ant species.

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These ants are definitely in the subfamily Myrmicine Ants (Myrmicinae):

Myrmicinae is a subfamily of ants, with about 140 extant genera; their distribution is cosmopolitan. The pupae lack cocoons. Some species retain a functional sting. The petioles of Myrmicinae consist of two nodes. The nests are permanent and in soil, rotting wood, under stones, or in trees Source: https://wikipedia.org

After further research, it appears these ants are Doubtful Acorn Ants (Temnothorax ambiguus). They are fairly uncommon to come across, as they are very small and hard to take photos off. They don't even have a page on Wikipedia. Most likely, you have rotting wood around (perhaps your desk) and they are nesting in it.

enter image description here

Image ref: https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/209974453, Photo 209974453, (c) Aaron Stoll, all rights reserved, uploaded by Aaron Stoll

Here is their range: (credit to https://inaturalist.org for the range map)

enter image description here


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My first thought was that these look like bethylids (bethylidae) which are aculeate wasps. Some species can do a bit of damage with their stings apparently, notably Scleroderma which I was reading about recently. At least in the second picture it looks like they dont have a petiole which makes me think its a flightless wasp. Better pictures would probably clear things up.

https://www.ajtmh.org/view/journals/tpmd/103/4/article-p1352.xml article about Scleroderma stings

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They should be Red Imported Fireants. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_imported_fire_ant enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ thorax shape is all wrong and head is too small for red imported fire ants. red imported fire ants should have pretty prominent petiole $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 0:51

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