Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR)

Wasmannia auropunctata
(a type of insect)

little red fire ant

  
image of Wasmannia auropunctata
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Full-text articles Experts Other resources Conservation partnerships  

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The little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) is a small orange-red to light brown ant about 1/16th inch long. They are slow-moving ants, easily dislodged from plant leaves. The little fire ant can deliver a painful sting when disturbed; welts can last for weeks.  Wasmannia auropunctata is native to Central and South America. 


Species description or overview

Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC) 2003 action plan View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
KISC identifies target invasive species and control strategies in its action plan (this version without images).

Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC) 2003 action plan View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
KISC identifies target invasive species and control strategies in its action plan (this version with images).

issg Database: Ecology of Wasmannia auropunctata
online

Wasmannia auropunctata (insect)
Lots of information, including description, range, habitat, diet, life cycle, control, images, and more is provided here.

Information about Wasmannia auropunctata from IUCN's ISSG/GISD
Information about Vinca major is available from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) (a product of IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group [ISSG]).

Those pesky tramp ants (Pest Control Technology Online)
Polygyny, monomorphism, and colony dispersal by budding and fission allow tramp ant species to succesfully invade new territories. These and other characteristics that benefit tramp ants are discussed in this article.

Wasmannia auropunctata ecology from ISSG
The ecology, distribution, habitat, and management of Wasmannia auropunctata are presented in this Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) site.

Wasmannia auropunctata description and ecology from GISD (ISSG)
A species description and information about the ecology of Wasmannia auropunctata as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).

Intercontinental chemical variation in the invasive ant Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger) (Hymenoptera Formicidae): a key to the invasive success of a tramp species. (abstract)
Wasmannia auropunctata benefits from unicoloniality, a feature that characterizes successful invasive species. Its underlying mechanism is reduced intraspecific aggression while keeping interspecific competitiveness.


Taxonomy & nomenclature

Wasmannia auropunctata information from ITIS
The Integrated Taxonomic Information System ITIS provides authoritative taxonomic information on Wasmannia auropunctata, as well as other plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger, 1863) taxonomy from ITIS
ITIS, the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, lists taxonomic data for Wasmannia auropunctata and allows searches of other databases.


Identification

Wasmannia identification key
This identification key is provided by Antwatch Hawaii.

Wasmannia behavior key
Use this interactive key to determine if your ants might be Wasmannia auropunctata.

Key to ant species in Hawaii
13 physical characteristics are the basis of this computer-assisted key for identifying the 48 species of ants in Hawaii.

Stop the Little Fire Ant View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The spread of Little Fire Ant (LFA) in Hawaii, identification, detection, and control are in this pest alert from University of Hawaii.


Early detection

Dog flies into action against ants
A labrador is trained to detect invasive electric ants in Queensland, Australia (The Cairns Post, 11/30/2009).


Pest alerts

Little fire ant - new pest advisory View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
Little fire ant's description, images, distribution, and impacts are in this pest advisory from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

Identifying the Little Fire Ant View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This pest alert helps Kauai residents detect Wasmannia auropunctata infestations (UH CES).

Stop the Little Fire Ant View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The spread of Little Fire Ant (LFA) in Hawaii, identification, detection, and control are in this pest alert from University of Hawaii.


Impacts

The little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata: distribution, impact and control View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
"The little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata, has been increasing in importance as an exotic pest. Here we review published and unpublished information on its distribution, ecology, impact, and control." [from abstract]

Little fire ant threat to organic farms in Hawaii
Painful stings by Wasmannia auropunctata are causing some orchard workers in East Hawaii to refuse to work.

Invasive species in the Pacific: A technical review and draft regional strategy (2000) View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The status of invasive plants, vertebrates, arthropods, molluscs, and crustaceans, and options for a regional invasive species strategy for the South Pacific are presented in this series of articles from the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, 2000.

Wasmannia auropunctata: Autecology and effects on ant diversity and distribution on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos (abstract)
The Wasmannia auropunctata invasion is causing major disruptions to the invertebrate ecology of Galapagos (Biotropica, 1982).

Quarantine updates: little fire ant and mixed fruit boxes
Irradiation of mixed fruit boxes from Hawaii could meet the quarantine requirements for controlling Wasmannia auropunctata (USDA ARS).

Little Fire Ants invade the Big Island
Hawaii orchard workers and home owners are affected by infestations of the stinging little fire ant (Associated Press, 2/15/2005).

Little Fire Ant threat to organic farms in Hawaii
Some orchard workers in East Hawaii have refused to work in areas of infestation as the ants climb up plants and trees, and drop off when disturbed by pruning, picking flowers, or harvesting fruit.

Wasmannia auropunctata impacts
General and site specific impacts of Wasmannia auropunctata are presented by the Global Invasive Species Database.

Wasmannia auropunctata impact information from GISD (ISSG)
Impact information regarding Wasmannia auropunctata as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).


Dispersal and pathways

Acute Exposure to Low-Dose Radiation Disrupts Reproduction and Shortens Survival of Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Queens
"Irradiation is a postharvest quarantine treatment option to control ants and other hitchhiker pests on fresh horticultural products exported from Hawaii. The radiotolerance of the invasive little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae), was studied to determine a dose sufficient for its control. ... Queens in the 100-Gy treatment had significantly reduced longevity compared with queens in the other treatments. Radiation doses ?70 Gy stopped reproduction in W. auropunctata queens and should be sufficient as a phytosanitary treatment. Information from additional invasive ants in Myrmicinae and other subfamilies is needed before recommending a generic irradiation treatment for ants." (excerpted from the abstract)


Prevention

Operation Kadridri - surveillance for invasive ants (Fiji)
Fiji Quarantine and Inspection Division (FQID) conducted surveillance for suspected invasive ants red imported fire ant or RIFA (Solenopsis invicta), and little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata).


Control methods

The little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata: distribution, impact and control View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
"The little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata, has been increasing in importance as an exotic pest. Here we review published and unpublished information on its distribution, ecology, impact, and control." [from abstract]

Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC) addendum to 2003 action plan View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
Control strategies are described in this addendum, a product of KISC's strategic planning meeting held 10/22/2002.

Little Fire Ant (LFA) control project - 2006 report
LFA chemical control measures and research are being conducted, according to this report from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

Acute Exposure to Low-Dose Radiation Disrupts Reproduction and Shortens Survival of Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Queens
"Irradiation is a postharvest quarantine treatment option to control ants and other hitchhiker pests on fresh horticultural products exported from Hawaii. The radiotolerance of the invasive little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae), was studied to determine a dose sufficient for its control. ... Queens in the 100-Gy treatment had significantly reduced longevity compared with queens in the other treatments. Radiation doses ?70 Gy stopped reproduction in W. auropunctata queens and should be sufficient as a phytosanitary treatment. Information from additional invasive ants in Myrmicinae and other subfamilies is needed before recommending a generic irradiation treatment for ants." (excerpted from the abstract)

Stop the Little Fire Ant View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The spread of Little Fire Ant (LFA) in Hawaii, identification, detection, and control are in this pest alert from University of Hawaii.

Wasmannia auropunctata management info
General and location specific control measures are covered on this Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) site.

Wasmannia auropunctata management information from GISD (ISSG)
Management information for Wasmannia auropunctata as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).

Review of the efficacy of baits used for ant control and eradication
Ant species have varying responses to toxins and baits used for their control. This extensive review of published reports is a preamble to the development of recommendations for New Zealand.


Human health issues

Little fire ant threat to organic farms in Hawaii
Painful stings by Wasmannia auropunctata are causing some orchard workers in East Hawaii to refuse to work.


Recovery & restoration

Eradication of the little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata from Marchena Island, Galapagos View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The procedures used to kill W. auropunctata, monitor the efficacy of the eradication methods, the program's costs, and its applicability to other island ecosystems are presented (Florida Entomologist, 2005).

Galapagos invasive species: Spotlight archives
Articles include the inconclusive results of programs to combat invasive species in Galapagos, the negative impacts of humans on protected areas, and comparisons between Galapagos and Hawaii.

Galapagos invasive species: ants...
Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR); webmaster: Philip A. Thomas


Images

Wasmannia auropunctata images (Starr)
Images of Wasmannia auropunctata (Formicidae) (little fire ant are provided by from Forest and Kim Starr.

Wasmannia auropunctata images from AntWeb
Compare close-up images of individuals within the species Wasmannia auropunctata on this AntWeb site.

Stop the Little Fire Ant View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The spread of Little Fire Ant (LFA) in Hawaii, identification, detection, and control are in this pest alert from University of Hawaii.


Distribution

Wasmannia auropunctata
Philip Thomas

Little Fire Ants spread to Kona
Invasive, stinging, Little Fire Ant (LFA) has spread from the east side of Hawaii Island to the west side, confirms the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (1/27/2010).

Invasive species in the Pacific: A technical review and draft regional strategy (2000) View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The status of invasive plants, vertebrates, arthropods, molluscs, and crustaceans, and options for a regional invasive species strategy for the South Pacific are presented in this series of articles from the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, 2000.

Little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) locations in Hawaii
Distribution of little fire ant on Hawaii island in 1999 is presented on a map from HEAR.

Wasmannia auropunctata distribution
Distribution records for Wasmannia auropunctata in the Global Invasive Species Database are organized by country.

Wasmannia auropunctata worldwide distribution from GISD (ISSG)
Worldwide distribution information about Wasmannia auropunctata is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).

Fire ants leave their mark
Fire ants have invaded nurseries in Hawaii, where they are being managed with poison baits and hot water treatments.


Books

Turning the tide: The eradication of invasive species (proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives)
Veitch, C.R. and M.N. Clout (eds.) . 2002. Turning the tide: The eradication of invasive species (proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives). IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. vii + 414pp. ISBN: 2-8317-0682-3.


In the news

Little fire ant infestation eradicated
An infestation of little fire ants on Maui has been eradicated thanks to the use of a new, experimental bait (Maui News, 10/22/2010).

Stinging ants appear eradicated on Maui
Rapid response and the development of innovative pest control methods coordinated by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has resulted in eradication of an infestation of a highly invasive pest, the little fire ant (LFA) (Wasmannia auropunctata), on Maui, according to this HDOA press release. LFA, which delivers painful stings, were reported by a Maui farmer in October 2009 and were found to infest about a half acre of a farm in Waihee.

HDOA winning battle against little fire ant on Maui
An experimental ant bait used by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) to control the little fire ant infestation on Maui appears to be effective (news release, HDOA 2/11/2010).

Hawaii Department of Agriculture winning the battle against little fire ant on Maui (press release) View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
A four-month effort by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) to eradicate a type of stinging ant on Maui is proving to be highly successful. Little fire ants (LFA) (Wasmannia auropunctata) were reported on a farm in Waihee in October 2009, with an area of infestation covering about a half acre. HDOA initiated a rapid response plan to contain and eradicate the ants and after four treatments, no ants have been found at the site. Treatments will continue for at least eight more months to help ensure that LFA has been eradicated. To date, LFA has not been detected anywhere else on Maui. (Hawaii Department of Agriculture press release dated 11 February 2010)

Little Fire Ants spread to Kona
Invasive, stinging, Little Fire Ant (LFA) has spread from the east side of Hawaii Island to the west side, confirms the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (1/27/2010).

Residents urged to report unusual stinging ants View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The discovery of Little Fire Ant on Maui is the topic of Maui Invasive Species Committee's Maui News column (11/8/2009).

Workers trained to fight Maui's newest pest, the Little Fire Ant
More than 50 State and County workers on Maui gathered for a special training session to battle Maui's the invasive Little Fire Ant, which was discovered on a farm in Waihee in October, 2009 (10/29/2009 mauinow.com).

Little fire ant found on Maui  important item 
The little fire ant (LFA) (Wasmannia auropunctata) was found on Maui on 02 October 2009, according to this press release from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (dated 15 October 2009).

Invasive fire ant found at farm in Waihee, Maui  important item 
The first discovery of the Little Fire Ant on Maui is reported at a farm in Waihee, confined to a -acre area (10/15/2009, mauinow.com).

Tackling the invasive species crisis in Hawaii View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture's strategies to combat various invasive species in Hawaii are reviewed (CTAHR Research News, Feb. 2008).

Fire ants do exist on Kauai
An LFA (little fire ant) population has been on Kauai since 1999, after infested potted plants were transported from the Big Island, but the ants are undetectable due to treatment. The public is urged to report any sightings of fire ants.

Fire ants leave their mark
Fire ants have invaded nurseries in Hawaii, where they are being managed with poison baits and hot water treatments.

Kauai cracking down on invasive pests
The fire ant and stinging nettle caterpillar are targets of an island-wide survey of every garden store, plant nursery and refuse station on the island of Kauai (10/2007).

Tiny invasive ant looms large as threat to the islands
"A disaster waiting to happen", is how the invasion of Wasmannia auropunctata in Hawaii is described in this well researched article (Maui Time Weekly, 2007).

Little fire ant threat to organic farms in Hawaii
Painful stings by Wasmannia auropunctata are causing some orchard workers in East Hawaii to refuse to work.

Fire ant invasion spreading across Hawaiian islands
An infestation of fire ants on the Big Island and Kauai is spreading, and researchers say it will be difficult to stop (Associated Press, 9/23/2007)

Fire ant invasion spreading across islands (Hawaii Tribune-Herald, 17 September 2007)
Fire ants (Wasmannia auropunctata), which were first discovered on the Big Island in Puna in 1999, have been identified at more than 50 sites around the island.

Hunt on for invasive fire ants (Fiji)
A workshop in Fiji helped entomologists and quarantine officers recognize the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) and the little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata).

Fire ant is little, but can cause big trouble View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The fire ant is the topic of the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) Kiai Moku Maui News column (1/11/2007).

State trying to prevent tiny pests from spreading (little fire ant)
Hawaii State Dept. of Land & Natural Resources, Division of Forestry & Wildlife

State trying to prevent tiny pests from spreading
Little fire ants were first discovered in Hawaii in 1999 in Puna on the Big Island. And since then there've been about 50 known infestations in East Hawaii. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is constantly testing areas across the state for little fire ants. The state also tests plants that are shipped from the infested areas, to prevent them from invading the entire state.

Students declare war, 1 February 2006
Intermediate and high school students on Maui are participating in educational prgrams that place them on the front lines of a battle to stop invasive fire ant species before they become entrenched on the Valley Isle (Maui News).

He clones, she clones: Dad, mom ants as different species
Male and female Wasmannia auropunctata apparently clone themselves and are genetically distinct. Does this make each sex their own species? (Science News, July 2, 2005, by Susan Milius)


Full-text articles

Pacific Ant Prevention Plan View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This proposal was prepared by ISSG for the Pacific Plant Protection Organization and Regional Technical Meeting For Plant Protection in March 2004.

The ecology, policy, and management of ants in Hawaii (Proc. Hawaiian Entomol Soc., 2005)
The ecology and impacts of the roughly 45 ant species introduced to Hawaii, and their implications for agriculture, other sectors of the economy, and the conservation of native biodiversity, are reviewed (abstract with link to full article).

Eradication of the little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata from Marchena Island, Galapagos View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The procedures used to kill W. auropunctata, monitor the efficacy of the eradication methods, the program's costs, and its applicability to other island ecosystems are presented (Florida Entomologist, 2005).

Invasive species in the Pacific: A technical review and draft regional strategy
South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP). Sherley, Greg (ed.) . 2000. Invasive species in the Pacific: A technical review and draft regional strategy. Apia, Samoa: South Pacific Regional Environment Programme. ISBN: 982-04-0214-X.

Turning the tide: The eradication of invasive species (proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives)
Veitch, C.R. and M.N. Clout (eds.) . 2002. Turning the tide: The eradication of invasive species (proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives). IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. vii + 414pp. ISBN: 2-8317-0682-3.

The causes and consequenses of ant invasions View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This article reviews the ecological effects of invasive ants on continents and islands. Tables and extensive references are provided.

The role of opportunity in the unintentional introduction of nonnative ants (Proceedings National Academy of Science)
The authors study ant species unintentionally transported into the US and relate opportunity and species-level ecological attributes to the probability of establishment.


Experts

Wasmannia auropunctata contacts from GISD (ISSG)
Contact information for experts on Wasmannia auropunctata as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).


Other resources

Hoike o Haleakala Curriculum # Fire Ants and the Future of Maui Wetlands View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This unit engages students in efforts at early detection of fire ants on Maui, and challenges them to help minimize the potential threat to wetlands and endangered species here by developing a prevention and action plan.

Hoike o Haleakala Curriculum # Finding the Little Fire Ant View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
Students engage in searching for possible infestation of little red fire ants by setting and checking simple peanut butter baits

Wasmannia auropunctata information from Wikipedia
Electric ant taxonomy, description, and references are in the Wikipedia article.

Wasmannia auropunctata references from GISD (ISSG)
References regarding Wasmannia auropunctata as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).


Conservation partnerships

AntWatch Hawaii
AntWatch Hawaii is an educational, long-term effort to monitor the Hawaiian Islands for resident alien ant species and provide an early-warning network for newly introduced species (University of Hawaii).


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