Living With Little Fire Ant

The Little Fire Ant, Wasmannia auropunctata, is native of South America that is becoming distributed world-wide. It has been invading the Hawaiian Islands, appearing on Hawaii in 1999. This year this invasive species spread to Oahu.

The Little Fire Ant has many undesirable attributes. It has a very painful sting, can raise a welt that lasts for several days and leave the skin discolored. Unlike the red imported Fire Ant (no relation) they do not nest underground; they are arboreal. They are easy to dislodge from trees and will fall on people walking below if the foliage is vibrated or jarred. Little Fire Ants infesting trees located near beaches have stung tourists, a big problem for a state that has an important tourist industry. The ants infest bananas, coffee and other crops and sting agricultural workers. Organic farmers who grow premium organic coffee may be forced to abandon organic status and use pesticides to manage the ants. Not content to stay outdoors, people report being stung by Little Fire Ants living in their furniture.

Little Fire Ants are easily transported in cargo, on produce and nursery stock. It is unlikely that Little Fire Ants can be eradicated in places such as Hawaii. Restrictions and inspections of goods to keep them out are the best hope of avoiding them. People will have to learn how to manage and live with this new invasive.

Here is video from Hawaii Ant Lab.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Invasive Species. Bookmark the permalink.

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