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Species: Solenopsis geminata   (Fabricius, 1804) 

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Current Valid Name:

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2023)

Extant: 1 valid subspecies

Atta geminata Fabricius, 1804 PDF: 423 (q.) SOUTH AMERICA. Neotropic. Primary type information: Primary type material: syntype queens (number not stated). Primary type locality: South America (“America meridionali”) (no further data). Primary type depositories: ZMUC, ZMUK. Type notes: According to Zimsen, 1964 PDF: 427, there are 5 syntypes. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

[Misspelled as germinata by Wheeler, 1927e PDF: 1.]
Roger, 1862c PDF: 289 (w.m.); Mayr, 1867a PDF: 109 (w.q.m.); Wheeler, 1900b PDF: 21 (l.); Wheeler & Wheeler, 1955c PDF: 132 (l.); Crozier, 1970a PDF: 116 (k.)
[Combination in Formica: Roger, 1862c PDF: 289 (error).]
[Note: Roger, 1862c PDF: 289, incorrectly cites Formica geminata Fabricius, 1804 PDF in his description of Solenopsis geminata minor (Roger, 1862), instead of Atta geminata Fabricius, 1804.]
Combination in Solenopsis: Mayr, 1863a PDF: 453; Roger, 1863b PDF: 32.
[Combination in Monomorium: Mayr, 1884 PDF: 37 (error).]
Status as species: Roger, 1862c PDF: 289; Roger, 1863b PDF: 32, 49; Mayr, 1863a PDF: 453; Mayr, 1865 PDF: 108; Mayr, 1867a PDF: 109 (redescription); Mayr, 1870b PDF: 996 (in key); Smith, 1873: ix; Mayr, 1876 PDF: 111; Emery, 1878a PDF: x (in list); Smith, 1879a PDF: 676; Forel, 1881 PDF: 10; Emery, 1883 PDF: 151; Forel, 1885b PDF: 182; Mayr, 1886c PDF: 365; Mayr, 1886d PDF: 460; Cresson, 1887 PDF: 262; Emery, 1888c PDF: 355; Emery, 1888e PDF: 690; Rothney, 1889 PDF: 365; Emery, 1890b PDF: 66; Emery, 1890c PDF: 52; Forel, 1893j PDF: 396; André, 1893b PDF: 152; Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 76; Emery, 1893f PDF: 89; Emery, 1893g PDF: 191; Emery, 1893h PDF: 243; Emery, 1893i PDF: 266; Pergande, 1893 PDF: 35; von Jhering, 1894 PDF: 392; Emery, 1894l PDF: 56; Forel, 1895b PDF: 130; Emery, 1895d PDF: 276; Emery, 1895m: 467; Emery, 1896g PDF: 83 (in key); Emery, 1896h PDF: 625; Mayr, 1897 PDF: 430; Forel, 1897b PDF: 300; Forel, 1899b PDF: 79; Emery, 1900: 688; Emery, 1901h PDF: 120; Emery, 1901i PDF: 567; Forel, 1901d PDF: 129; Rothney, 1903: 98; Bingham, 1903 PDF: 158; Wheeler, 1905c PDF: 124; Emery, 1906c PDF: 121; Forel, 1906d PDF: 248; Forel, 1907h PDF: 4; Forel, 1908c PDF: 45; Forel, 1908 PDF: 362; Forel, 1908a PDF: 67; Wheeler, 1908a PDF: 130; Wheeler, 1908h PDF: 424; Wheeler, 1909b PDF: 232; Forel, 1909a PDF: 259, 268; Santschi, 1910c PDF: 359; Wheeler, 1910a PDF: 563; Santschi, 1911d PDF: 3; Emery, 1911f PDF: 531; Wheeler, 1911a PDF: 23; Wheeler, 1911b PDF: 169; Forel, 1912h PDF: 4; Wheeler, 1913b PDF: 493; Wheeler, 1913d PDF: 115; Wheeler, 1913e PDF: 240; Santschi, 1913c PDF: 306; Stitz, 1913 PDF: 209; Forel, 1914e PDF: 11; Bruch, 1914 PDF: 223; Emery, 1914f PDF: 393; Wheeler & Mann, 1914 PDF: 20; Mann, 1916 PDF: 447; Wheeler, 1916c PDF: 3; Wheeler, 1916f PDF: 324; Crawley, 1916b PDF: 370; Wheeler, 1917g PDF: 458; Luederwaldt, 1918 PDF: 42; Wheeler, 1918b PDF: 24; Wheeler, 1919d: 272; Mann, 1920b PDF: 427; Emery, 1922c PDF: 197; Wheeler, 1922: 877; Wheeler, 1922e PDF: 9; Mann, 1922 PDF: 30; Wheeler, 1923d PDF: 4; Stitz, 1925c PDF: 119; Essig, 1926 PDF: 858; Stärcke, 1926a PDF: 84 (in key); Borgmeier, 1927c PDF: 104; Wheeler, 1927b PDF: 45; Creighton, 1930b PDF: 59 (redescription); Menozzi & Russo, 1930 PDF: 158; Mukerjee, 1930 PDF: 154; Smith, 1930a PDF: 3; Wheeler, 1932a PDF: 10; Donisthorpe, 1932c PDF: 463; Donisthorpe, 1933d PDF: 534; Wheeler, 1933a: 62; Borgmeier, 1934 PDF: 102; Wheeler, 1935g: 26; Wheeler, 1936c PDF: 200; Cole, 1937a PDF: 99; Smith, 1937 PDF: 838; Wheeler, 1938 PDF: 252; Menozzi, 1942a PDF: 169; Eidmann, 1944 PDF: 450; Donisthorpe, 1946i PDF: 31; Weber, 1948b PDF: 82; Creighton, 1950a PDF: 231; Smith, 1951c PDF: 812; Chapman & Capco, 1951 PDF: 168; Cole, 1953i PDF: 299; Smith, 1958c PDF: 129; Kempf, 1961b PDF: 507; Snelling, 1963 PDF: 7; Wilson, 1964b PDF: 8; Baltazar, 1966 PDF: 260; Ettershank, 1966 PDF: 141; Smith, 1967a PDF: 357; Wilson & Taylor, 1967b PDF: 58; Taylor, 1967b PDF: 1094; Kempf, 1972b PDF: 235; Alayo, 1974 PDF: 14 (in key); Smith, 1979: 1385; Taylor, 1987a PDF: 72; Zolessi et al., 1988: 4; Deyrup et al., 1989 PDF: 96; Brandão, 1991 PDF: 379; Ogata, 1991b PDF: 110; Trager, 1991 PDF: 163 (redescription); Morisita et al., 1992: 42; Collingwood, 1993b PDF: 194; Perrault, 1993 PDF: 333; Dlussky, 1994a: 54; Bolton, 1995b: 387; Wu & Wang, 1995a: 70; Tang et al., 1995: 71; Collingwood et al., 1997 PDF: 508; Tiwari, 1999 PDF: 58; Zhou, 2001a PDF: 88; Wetterer, 2002 PDF: 129; Blard et al., 2003 PDF: 131; Deyrup, 2003 PDF: 47; Imai et al., 2003 PDF: 132; Lin & Wu, 2003: 66; Wetterer & Vargo, 2003 PDF: 417; Ghosh et al., 2005 PDF: 33; Jaitrong & Nabhitabhata, 2005 PDF: 42; MacGown & Forster, 2005 PDF: 69; Clouse, 2007b PDF: 249; Framenau & Thomas, 2008 PDF: 72; Terayama, 2009 PDF: 157; Mohanraj et al., 2010 PDF: 7; Collingwood et al., 2011 PDF: 438; Legakis, 2011 PDF: 15; Pfeiffer et al., 2011 PDF: 51; Wetterer, 2011a PDF: 21; Borowiec & Salata, 2012 PDF: 534; Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012 PDF: 261; Guénard & Dunn, 2012 PDF: 53; Sarnat & Economo, 2012 PDF: 122; Sharaf & Aldawood, 2012a 0.1371/journal.pone.0049485 PDF: 10; Sarnat et al., 2013 PDF: 72; Borowiec, 2014 PDF: 154; Ramage, 2014 PDF: 162; Bezděčková et al., 2015 PDF: 122; Bharti et al., 2016 PDF: 44; Jaitrong et al., 2016 PDF: 38; Wetterer et al., 2016 PDF: 17; Deyrup, 2017: 103; Salata & Borowiec, 2018c 10.5281/zenodo.2199191 PDF: 48; Fernández & Serna, 2019 PDF: 816; Lubertazzi, 2019 10.3099/MCZ-43.1 PDF: 172; Dias et al., 2020 10.3897/zookeys.967.54432 PDF: 90; Khachonpisitsak et al., 2020 10.3897/zookeys.998.54902 PDF: 122; Wang et al., 2022 10.20362/am.015006 PDF: 101.
Senior synonym of Solenopsis eduardi: Trager, 1991 PDF: 163; Bolton, 1995b: 388.
Senior synonym of Solenopsis mellea: Donisthorpe, 1932c PDF: 455; Bolton, 1995b: 387.
Material of the nomen nudum Solenopsis geminata minor referred here by Kempf, 1972b PDF: 236.

Taxon Page Images:

Add your content here // Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Africa: Cameroon, Canary Islands, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion, South Africa
    Americas: Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Galapagos Islands, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Venezuela
    Asia: Bangladesh, Borneo, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nicobar Island, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam
    Europe: Greece, Italy
    Oceania: American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Afrotropical, Australasia, Indomalaya, Malagasy, Nearctic, Neotropical, Oceania, Palearctic
  Native to (according to species list records):
    Nearctic, Neotropical bioregions

Distribution Notes:

Australia: Queensland: S. geminata may have been eradicated from Queensland but since new infestations are to be expected, we thought it prudent to keep the species on the list.  


Natural History:

Solenopsis geminata is the tropical fire ant. Fire ants are a group of related species, the Solenopsis geminata group, that has its center of diversity in southern South America. Solenopsis geminata is the only member of the group that occurs in Costa Rica, although it occurs in a "red form" that is more abundant in open areas and a "black form" that prefers forested areas. The environmental or genetic determinants of these forms are unknown.

Solenopsis geminata is most abundant in open sunny areas. It is common in agricultural areas and around human settlements. In the lowlands it is found not only in the open but may also penetrate into forest understory, albeit at lower density. At higher elevations it is restricted to open areas and does not extend into closed-canopy forest. There is anecdotal evidence that S. geminata occurrence in forest understory, even in mature forest habitats, is increasing, perhaps due to effects of fragmentation. Increased abundance in forest understory could be due to a greatly increased source population in the surrounding pasture areas, or to microclimate change that favors fire ant establishment in the forest understory.

Solenopsis geminata colonies are large, with tens to hundreds of thousands of workers. Nests are in the soil, usually in the form of a large exposed soil mound. The sand surrounding the mound is usually bright maroon-red. Galleries extend out into the surrounding soil, surfacing at foraging zones at a distance from the nest. Most foraging is at the soil surface, but I have seen fire ants foraging several meters up on tree trunks or treefalls when there are abundant epiphytes and epiphytic soil. Workers form galleries extending from the ground up through the epiphytic soil.

Workers are generalized scavengers and they recruit rapidly to resources. Oil and protein sources, such as tuna baits, are particularly attractive. When large resources are discovered, workers often rapidly cover them with soil. I once observed S. geminata workers tending petiolar extrafloral nectaries at each leaf of a long Passiflora vine. The vine looped from the vegetation down to the ground for part of its length, and wherever a leaf petiole was touching the ground the ants had built a soil pavilion covering it.

Individual colonies have large nuptial flights, with abundant males and alate queens issuing from nests. Workers swarm over the nest surface and surrounding vegetation, and they appear to be driving the males and alate queens from the nest. Nuptial flights do not seem highly syncronized among colonies and they may occur at any time of year.

Stinging behaviour

Workers have powerful, painful and lingering stings and are the bane of children running barefoot in the grass. If you mistakenly stand on a nest, workers will slowly cover your feet and lower legs and then all sting at once. The chemicals injected include a the toxin Solenopsin. A young ameteur naturalist reported that normal workers first roam around the body in search of fleshy skin, jaws open. It then bites down painlessly, aims its stinger and stings. When stung only once, he reported a burning pain which begins hard, dissipates over 10 seconds, and returns one second later with slightly less intensity. This continues on for half a minute until the pain is unnoticable. The slight itchiness lasted for around 25 minutes. This naturalist also reported a very slight blister. They usually try to sting multiple times, and these stings can sometimes make the cells around the sting site die, forming white blisters. Farmers generally despise them.

As a pest:

They are considered pests for damage to crops due to their farming of aphids and mealybugs for honeydew, for their stings and damage to soil, property damage, and for displacing native wildlife in places where it has become established via human activity.


(Dutch vernacular name: tropische vuurmier)


Trager, J. C. 1991. A revision of the fire ants, Solenopsis geminata group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). Journal of the New York Entomological Society 99:141-198.

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Solenopsis geminata   Forel, A., 1893, Formicides de l'Antille St. Vincent. Récoltées par Mons. H. H. Smith., Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 1893, pp. 333-418: 396-398, (download) 396-398 3948
Solenopsis geminata   Crawley W. C., 1915, Ants from north and south-west Australia (G. F. Hill, Rowland Turner) and Christmas Island, Straits Settlements. Part 2, Ann. Mag Natur. Hist. 15, pp. 232-239: 239, (download) 239 6192
Solenopsis geminata   Emery, C., 1893, Voyage de M. E. Simon à l'île de Ceylan (janvier - février 1892). 3 e Mémoire. Formicides., Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 62, pp. 239-258: 5, (download) 5 3767
Solenopsis geminata   Santschi, F., 1913, Glanure de fourmis africaines., Annales de la Societe Entomologique de Belgique 57, pp. 302-314: 5, (download) 5 3723
Solenopsis geminata   Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 42, (download) 42 21367
Solenopsis geminata n. sp.  Santschi, F., 1915, Nouvelles fourmis d'Afrique., Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 84, pp. 244-282: 258-259, (download) 258-259 3651
Solenopsis geminata   Forel, A., 1908, Fourmis de Costa-Rica, récoltées par M. Paul Biolley., Bulletin de la Societe Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles 44, pp. 35-72: 45, (download) 45 4014

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 95 times found in tropical rainforest, 71 times found in 2º lowland rainforest, 41 times found in urban/garden, 66 times found in montane wet forest, 65 times found in cloud forest, 14 times found in coastal scrub, 49 times found in lowland wet forest, 30 times found in edge of cloud forest, 27 times found in rainforest, 26 times found in mature wet forest, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 399 times at bait, 295 times ex sifted leaf litter, 15 times sweeping, 46 times ground forager(s), 18 times under stone, 25 times Hojarasca, 24 times beating vegetation, 25 times sifting leaf litter, 1 times BL/MV lights, 19 times under rock, 20 times ex sifted litter, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 391 times Baiting, 185 times MiniWinkler, 26 times sweeping, 76 times search, 90 times Winkler, 71 times MaxiWinkler, 42 times Beating, 46 times Berlese, 19 times hand collecting, 30 times hand collection, 26 times Mini Winkler, ...

Elevations: collected from 1 - 2270 meters, 563 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1903-07-01 00:00:00.0 and 2022-05-22 00:00:00.0

Type specimens: Holotype of Crematogaster laboriosus: casent0901432; Holotype of Myrmica mellea: casent0901431; Not Provided: casent0171029, casent0171030, casent0171102, casent0182220, casent0182302, casent0182352, casent0182370, casent0182382, casent0182405, casent0182411, casent0182425, casent0182436, casent0182445, casent0182450, casent0182459, casent0182462, casent0182467, casent0182472, casent0182489, casent0182490, casent0182527, casent0182532, casent0182540, casent0194609, casent0194612, casent0194613, casent0742317; syntype of Atta clypeata: casent0902348; syntype of Myrmica glaber: casent0902347; syntype of Myrmica laevissima: casent0901430; syntype of Myrmica polita: casent0902346; syntype of Solenopsis eduardi bahiaensis: casent0913893, casent0917011; syntype of Solenopsis eduardi perversa: casent0913896, casent0913897; syntype of Solenopsis geminata galapageia: castype00445-01, castype00445-02, castype00445-03; syntype of Solenopsis mandibularis: casent0901969; syntype of Solenopsis eduardi: casent0908793; syntype of Solenopsis geminata innota: casent0913894, casent0913895; syntype of Solenopsis geminata nigra: casent0908794

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