Wasmannia auropunctata

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Wasmannia auropunctata (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Eli Sarnat
Source: IPM Images

Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger, 1863) - (little fire ant)

The ant is native in South America and was introduced into Africa around 1920 in the belief that it could function as a biological control agent in cacao plantations. Now, the species has a nearly world-wide distribution in tropical and some subtropical areas, including Caribbean and Pacific islands, West Africa, Asia and Australia. In temperate regions it can also infest greenhouses.

The ant protects honeydew producing insects and also infests houses. Despite its small size (~ 1.5 mm), the bite is rather painful and the ant frequently attacks farm workers in infested fields. It can even "rain" down from arboreal colonies.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: kleine Feuerameise
• English: little fire ant
• Español: pequeña hormiga de fuego
• Français: petite fourmi de feu

The success of this species has been attributed to its aggressive competition with (or predation on) other ant species. Control typically involves insecticidal ant baits consisting of an attractive food source that ants carry to their colonies, mixed with a slow-acting poison. These baits may be formulated as a granular product (e.g. products developed for Solenopsis invicta control) which is broadcasted against ground colonies or as sprayable products which can be applied against arboreal colonies.

For details see the respective page in Wikipedia.