Taxonomic name: Monomorium destructor (Jerdon, 1851)
Synonyms: Atta destructor Jerdon, Monomorium basale (Smith)., Monomorium ominosa (Gerstaecker), Myrmica atomaria Gerstaecker, Myrmica basalis Smith, Myrmica gracillima Smith, Myrmica ominosa Gerstaecker, Myrmica vexator Smith
Common names: destructive trailing ant, Mizo-hime-ari (Japanese), Singapore ant
Organism type: insect
Monomorium destructor (the Singapore ant) is described as a tramp ant as it is renowned for transporting itself around the world via human commerce and trade. Monomorium destructor is known to cause extensive economic damage in urban environments by gnawing holes in fabric and rubber goods, removing rubber insulation from electric and phone lines and damaging polyethylene cable.
The length of workers is highly variable (Polymorphic) from 1.8 to 3.5mm. The body, from head to post petiole, is uniformly light yellow to dull brownish yellow. The gaster (swollen part of abdomen) is always darker. The head and body are mostly smooth, shining and unsculptured except on the very top of the head, which has fine transverse ridges (which are inconspicuous). The antennae have 12 segments, including a 3-segmented club. Club segments increase in size toward the apex. The eyes of M. destructor are relatively small, with 4-6 ommatidia in the longest rows. Mandibles have 3 strong teeth each; with a fourth tooth that is minute. Sparse body hairs cover the ant (Ferster et al. UNDATED; Harris et al. 2005).
Please click on AntWeb: Monomorium destrutor for more images and assistance with identification. The AntWeb image comparison tool lets you compare images of ants at the subfamily, genus, species or specimen level. You may also specify which types of images you would like to compare: head, profile, dorsal or label.
Please see PaDIL (Pests and Diseases Image Library) Species Content Page Ants: Singapore ant for high quality diagnostic and overview images.
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 Monomorium destructor contains an overview, diagnostic features, comparision charts, images, nomenclature and links. (Sarnat, 2008)
Monomorium latinode, Monomorium mayri
ruderal/disturbed, urban areas
Singapore ants (Monomorium destructor) nest outdoors or in buildings, depending largely on whether they occur in tropical, semitropical or temperate regions. In northern Western Australia they do not live far from houses where they live above the ground in wall and roof cavities. They are present in some tropical, irrigated, lowland rice fields in the Philippines, and coconut plantations in Sri Lanka. In Florida they nest in soil (lawns) or buildings. On Tiwi Island and in Australia's Northern Territory, M. destructor nests were only associated with urban areas; while there was some spread into surrounding bush land, they appear to be unable to establish in undisturbed habitat. In the United Arab Emirates the ants are present in a wide range of habitats, especially irrigated gardens and disturbed habitats close to water. In the Caribbean they were found nesting in trees in citrus orchards (in hollow twigs and branches) and on the ground (Collingwood et al. 1997; and Harris et al. 2005).
On a local level (and mostly in urban environments) decreases in ant species diversity have been observed with introductions of the Singapore ant (Monomorium destructor). Outside of urban environments this species is not a major component of ant communities, but it has been documented displacing native invertebrate fauna through aggression, and as such can be a threat to biodiversity. Foragers gnaw holes in fabric and rubber goods, remove rubber insulation from electric and phone lines, and damage polyethylene cable. Cars parked overnight in infested areas can fail to start the next day after the ants have shorted ignition systems. They also forage for sugars, fats and proteins in houses. M. destructor activities can result in high costs in terms of property damage (cars, telecommunication equipment, TVs, etc.) and treatment. Several house and car fires have been attributed to the ant (Harris et al. 2005; and Pacific Invasive Ant Group, 2004).
Harris et al. 2005 has highlighted the disease-carrying potential of M. destructor, reporting that, a study found bubonic plague bacteria in the faeces of foragers that had fed on plague-infected rats. People being bitten in bed by the ants is very common in the Northern Territory, Australia and is an identifying feature of M. destructor (B. Hoffmann, pers.comm., 2006).
Native range: India, Ants of Africa (2006) describes the Singapore ant (Monomorium destructor) as 'a tramp species probably of Indian origin'.
Known introduced range: Australasia-Pacific, North America, and South America (Stanley, 2004; Wetterer and O'Hara, 2002; and Hickman and Bieman, 2004).
Introduction pathways to new locations
Other: Most significant is human-mediated dispersal, without which the ant may never have reached its current locations. M. destructor is a tramp ant, renowned for transportation via human commerce and trade. It is associated with a wide range of freight types, making it difficult to target any particular pathways (Harris et al. 2005).
People sharing resources: M. destructor is a successful tramp species that has become very widely dispersed by trade (Harris et al. 2005).
Local dispersal methods
Natural dispersal (local): M. destructor also spreads naturally from established colonies in two ways: colony budding, where queens walk on foot accompanied by workers to a new nesting site; and winged dispersal of inseminated queens to uninfested areas where they start a new colony. This latter mechanism needs to be confirmed; it is most likely colony budding is the primary natural dispersal method (Harris et al. 2005).
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 (Solenopsis invicta) and other invasive ant species with economic, environmental or social impacts from establishing within or spreading between countries in the Pacific.
A detailed pest risk assessment for the eight species ranked as having the highest potential risk to New Zealand (Anoplolepis gracilipes,
Lasius neglectus, Monomorium destructor, Paratrechina longicornis, Solenopsis geminata, Solenopsis richteri, Tapinoma melanocephalum, Wasmannia auropunctata) was prepared as part of 'The invasive ant risk assessment project', Harris et al. 2005., for Biosecurity New Zealand by Landcare Research. Monomorium destructor scored as a high-risk threat to New Zealand. The invasive ant risk assessment for M. destructor can be viewed at Monomorium destructor risk assessment. Please see Monomorium destructor information sheet for more information on biology, distribution, pest status and control technologies.
Chemical: Dried granular corn grit baits are effective against this species. At least three formulations containing 7.3g/kg hydramethylnon (Drax Ant Kil Granular with Hydramethylnon; Garrards Granular Ant Bait; Faslane Granular Ant Bait), and one containing 10 g/kg hydramethylnon (Maxforce Granular Insect Bait) are registered for use against M. destructor in Australia in addition to Amdro (7.3 g/kg hydramethylnon). These baits are also recommended for use against Pheidole megacephala and Solenopsis geminata or ants in general. Engage® (methoprene) and Distance® (pyriproxyfen) have a lipid attractant and are also likely to be attractive to M. destructor. Amdro® has also been used effectively against M. destructor. Ascend® (Affirm®) has been effectively used to control S. invicta and has shown potential to control M. destructor in the field, although some recovery did occur after 2 weeks. Field trials in Malaysia using food attractants found peanut butter was strongly preferred over honey by M. destructor and the use of protein or sugar-based attractants is recommended in baits targeting M. destructor (Stanley, 2004).
Please follow this link for more detailed information on the management of the Singapore ant Monomorium destructor compiled by the ISSG.
The Singapore ant (Monomorium destructor) is a slow moving ant that forages along narrow trails. A generalist with a broad diet of living and dead insects, insect eggs, carbohydrates from tending sap-sucking insects, nectar, seeds; it will forage for sweets, fats and proteins. In households they will feed on almost any food available. M. destructor foragers are slow to find food compared with other tramp ants (Ferster et al. UNDATED; and Harris et al. 2005).
Singapore ant (Monomorium destructor) form large colonies with multiple queens (Ferster et al. UNDATED).
Reviewed by: Dr Ben Hoffmann - Ant community ecologist CSIRO-TERC Australia
Principal sources: Harris et al., 2005. Invasive ant pest risk assessment project for Biosecurity New Zealand Monomorium destructor
Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Tuesday, 27 October 2009