Little Fire Ant

Wasmannia auropunctata

Foraging Characteristics:  Tiny golden to light brown ants, not shiny.  Slow moving. No large-headed workers. Similar in coloration to Pharaoh’s ant, but less elongate, much smaller, and movement is slower. If complaints are of painful stings but no stinging insect is seen, little fire ants may be to blame. Under microscope ants have distinct ridge over eye and antenna on each side.



Detailed Description: 1.5 mm (1/16 in) long. Frontal carinae widely spaced, and each forming a partial scrobe for reception of antennal scape. Eleven-segmented antennae with three-segmented club. Two segmented petiole. Head and body highly sculptured. Epinotal spines long and close together at base. Subfamily Myrmicinae.

Most Common Complaints: Painful, long-lasting stings.  Sometimes ants are not seen.  Ants may fall on people working in infested vegetation (harvesting fruit, pruning shrubbery) and sting them.  Occasionally foragers found inside homes.  Indoor colonies can be controlled with baits.  Control outdoors is difficult and currently under research.  Reduce access to structures.

Flight Season:  Reproduce by budding.

Distribution: Broward, Collier, Dade, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Martin, Manatee, Marion, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Sarasota, St. Lucie, and Seminole Counties.

Nest Sites & Characteristics:  Multiple queens. Nest in exposed soil, leaf litter, in rotten wood, hollow twigs or other plant cavities, under flower pots, or on the underside of objects left on ground.  Can be found foraging on vegetation and in fruit trees where they may be found between fruits that touch while hanging on the trees.

Diet: Tend sap-sucking insects and visit extrafloral nectaries. Scavenge for dead insects. Forage for proteins and fats in homes.

Origin: New World tropics.