This species nests in open areas in soil or under stones, it may build unsightly nests of loose soil on lawns. Reproductives are found in the nest throughout the year, nuptial flights occur from May through September. Flights occur in the afternoon and are usually announced by large numbers of very aggressive ants milling around the nest entrance. These ants are aggressive with a painful sting, although not nearly as aggressive as the introduced red fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. They derive the name “native fire ant” from their sting. The species causes considerable damage to seed banks, kills newly hatched birds, girdles agricultural plants, attacks agricultural products, attacks electrical equipment, and is a serious, stinging kitchen pest. (Mackay and Mackay 2002)
A member of the Solenopsis geminata species-group.
These ants are often concolorous dark in color, although they are also bicolored with a red head and mesosoma, and a black gaster. The gaster rarely has any light brown areas.
In Nevada this species is restricted to the Hot Desert region in the southern tip. Elevation range is from -160 ft. in Death Valley, California to 4500 ft. near Beatty, Nevada (Wheeler & Wheeler, 1986).
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
Distribution based on AntMaps
Distribution based on AntWeb specimens
Check data from AntWeb
In Nevada, Wheeler & Wheeler (1986) examined 18 records. Five nests where under stones, 1 under rotten wood, 2 at the base of desert shrubs, 1 in chaff beside a nest of Pogonomyrmex rugosus, 1 in exposed soil with a crack as an entrance. One colony was described as populous and aggressive; the sting was annoying; seeds were found in the nest. Rissing (personal communication) reported that ants of this species raided colonies of Pheidole gilvescens, Pogonomyrmex californicus (numerous), Pogonomyrmex rugosus and Veromessor pergandei (numerous) on his study site in Boulder City, Nevada.
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.
- xyloni. Solenopsis xyloni McCook, 1879: 188, figs. 37, 38 (s.w.q.) U.S.A. Wheeler, W.M. 1915b: 396 (m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1955c: 133 (l.); Taber & Cokendolpher, 1988: 95 (k.). Junior synonym of geminata: Mayr, 1886d: 460; Dalla Torre, 1893: 76. Revived from synonymy as subspecies of geminata: Wheeler, W.M. 1910g: 563; Wheeler, W.M. 1915b: 395. Revived status as species: Creighton, 1930b: 98; Creighton, 1950a: 232; Snelling, R.R. 1963: 9. Senior synonym of maniosa, pylades: Trager, 1991: 166.
- pylades. Solenopsis geminata r. pylades Forel, 1904d: 172 (q.) MEXICO. Forel, 1909a: 267 (w.); Forel, 1911c: 297 (m.); Bruch, 1916: 315 (m.). Raised to species: Forel, 1909a: 267; Bruch, 1914: 223; Forel, 1916: 459. Subspecies of saevissima: Santschi, 1923c: 267. Junior synonym of geminata: Emery, 1922e: 198; of saevissima: Wheeler, W.M. 1915b: 395; Wheeler, W.M. 1916g: 143; Wheeler, W.M. 1919c: 272; Creighton, 1930b: 70; of xyloni: Trager, 1991: 166.
- maniosa. Solenopsis geminata subsp. maniosa Wheeler, W.M. 1915b: 396 (w.q.m.) U.S.A. Subspecies of xyloni: Creighton, 1930b: 102. Junior synonym of xyloni: Creighton, 1950a: 232. Revived from synonymy and raised to species: Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1986g: 13. Junior synonym of xyloni: Trager, 1991: 166.
- Creighton, W. S. 1930b. The New World species of the genus Solenopsis (Hymenop. Formicidae). Proc. Am. Acad. Arts Sci. 66: 39-151 (page 98, revived status as species)
- Creighton, W. S. 1950a. The ants of North America. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 104: 1-585 (page 232, revived status as species)
- Dalla Torre, K. W. von. 1893. Catalogus Hymenopterorum hucusque descriptorum systematicus et synonymicus. Vol. 7. Formicidae (Heterogyna). Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 289 pp. (page 76, Junior synonym of geminata)
- Hooper-Bùi, L.M., Rust, M.K. 1997. Food Preference and Patterns of Foraging Activity of the Southern Fire Ant, Solenopsis xyloni (McCook). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 90(2): 246-253.
- Hooper-Bùi, L.M., Rust, M.K. 1998. Factors that Induce Emergence and Flight of Solenopsis xyloni (McCook) Alates. Sociobiology 32(1): 63-75.
- Hooper-Bùi, L.M., Rust, M.K., Reierson, D.A. 2004. Predation of the Endangered California Least Tern, Sterna antillarum browni (Mearns) by the southern fire ant, Solenopsis xyloni (McCook). Sociobiology 43 (3): 401-418.
- Mackay, W. P. and E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY.
- McCook, H. C. 1880 . Formicariae. Pp. 182-189 in: Comstock, J. H. Report upon cotton insects. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 511 pp. (page 188, figs. 37, 38 soldier, worker, queen described)
- Pitts, J.P., Camacho, G.P., Gotzek, D., McHugh, J.V., Ross, K.G. 2018. Revision of the fire ants of the Solenopisis saevissima species group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 120: 308–411.
- Snelling, R. R. 1963. The United States species of fire ants of the genus Solenopsis, subgenus Solenopsis Westwood, with synonymy of Solenopsis aurea Wheeler (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Calif. Dep. Agric. Bur. Entomol. Occ. Pap. 3: 1-15 (page 9, revived status as species)
- Taber, S. W.; Cokendolpher, J. C. 1988. Karyotypes of a dozen ant species from the southwestern U.S.A. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Caryologia 41: 93-102 (page 95, karyotype described)
- Trager, J. C. 1991. A revision of the fire ants, Solenopsis geminata group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc. 99: 141-198 (page 166, Senior synonym of maniosa and pylades)
- Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1955c. The ant larvae of the myrmicine tribe Solenopsidini. Am. Midl. Nat. 54: 119-141 (page 133, larva described)
- Wheeler, W. M. 1910b. Ants: their structure, development and behavior. New York: Columbia University Press, xxv + 663 pp. (page 563, revived from synonymy as subspecies of geminata)
- Wheeler, W. M. 1915b. Some additions to the North American ant-fauna. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 34: 389-421 (page 396, male described; page 395, revived from synonymy as subspecies of geminata)