Worldwide spread of the little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

in Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Native to the Neotropics, Wasmannia auropunctata has spread to numerous other tropical and subtropical areas, where it is can reach extremely high densities and threaten the local biota. To evaluate the worldwide spread of W. auropunctata, I compiled published and unpublished specimen records from > 1700 sites. I documented the earliest known W. auropunctata records for 53 geographic areas (countries, island groups, major West Indian islands, and US states), including many with no previously published records: Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Caicos Islands, El Salvador, Guam, Montserrat, Nevis, St Kitts, St Martin, and Texas. In the New World, W. auropunctata has a seemingly continuous distribution from central Argentina to southernmost Texas, suggesting that it may be native throughout this expanse. Wasmannia auropunctata has also spread throughout the West Indies and to peninsular Florida, though it is unclear which West Indian islands may constitute part of its native range. The earliest Old World reports of W. auropunctata, in the 1890’s, came from West Africa: Sierra Leone and Gabon. Although no additional records have come from Sierra Leone, W. auropunctata has spread broadly across Gabon and into neighboring countries, where it is a serious pest. In Oceania, the earliest records of W. auropunctata date to 1972 from New Caledonia and 1974 from the Solomon Islands. Pacific populations of W. auropunctata are actively spreading within these islands and to many other island groups. In the past decade, first records of W. auropunctata have been reported from several Old World areas, including the Central African Republic, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Guam, Italy, and Israel. Wasmannia auropunctata appears to still have much potential for future spread in the Old World.

Worldwide spread of the little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

in Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews



Anonymous. 1979. Solving problems in the Toronto Zoo. Pest Control Technology 7 (10):1415.

AyreG.L. 1977. Exotic ants in Winnipeg. Manitoba Entomologist 11:4144.

Bruneau de MiréP. 1969. Une formi utilisée au Cameroun dans la lutte contre les mirides du cacaoyer: Wasmannia auropunctata Roger. Café Cacao Thé 13:209212.

BünzliG.H. 1935. Untersuchungen über coccidophile Ameisen aus den Kaffeefeldern von Surinam. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gessellschaft 16:453593.

ConantP. and HirayamaC.. 2000. Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): established on the Island of Hawai’i. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 64:2122.

DeyrupM.DavisL. and CoverS.. 2000. Exotic ants in Florida. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 126:293326.

DonisthorpeH. 1908. Additions to the wild fauna and flora of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: VII. Hymenoptera. Formicidae (ants). Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information Royal Botanic Gardens Kew 1908:121122.

EmeryC. 1893. Über die Herkunft der Pharao-Ameise. Biologisches Centralblatt 13:435436.

EmeryC. 1894a. Studi sulle formiche della fauna Neotropica. Bollettino della Societa Entomologica Italiana 26:137241.

EmeryC. 1894b. Estudios sobre las hormigas de Costa Rica. Anales del Museo Nacional de Costa Rica 1888-1889:4564.

FabresG. and BrownW.L.Jr. 1978. The recent introduction of the pest ant Wasmannia auropunctata into New Caledonia. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 17:139142.

FasiJ. 2009. Quantifying the dominance of little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) and its effect on crops in the Solomon Islands. Master’s thesis. University of the South PacificSuva. 101 pp.

ForelA. 1886. Espèces nouvelles de fourmis américaines. Annales de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 30:xxxviiixlix.

ForelA. 1893. Formicides de l’Antille St. Vincent, récoltées par Mons. H. H. Smith. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 1893:333418.

ForelA. 1897. Quelques Formicides de l’Antille de Grenada récoltés par M. H. H. Smith. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 1897:297300.

ForelA. 1899. Biologia Centrali-Americana; or, contributions to the knowledge of the fauna and flora of Mexico and Central America. Insecta. Hymenoptera. 3. Formicidae. R.H. Porter London 160 pp.

ForelA. 1909. Ameisen aus Guatemala usw., Paraguay und Argentinien (Hym.). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 1909:239269.

ForelA. 1911. Aperçu sur la distribution géographique et la phylogénie des fourmis. Memoires Ier Congres International d’Entomologie 2:8110.

ForelA. 1912. Formicides Néotropiques. Part IV. 3me sous-famille Myrmicinae Lep. Mémoires de la Société Entomologique de Belgique 20:132.

FoucaudJ.JourdanH.Le BretoJ.LoiseauA. and KonghouleuxD. 2006. Rare sexual reproduction events in the clonal reproduction system of introduced populations of the little fire ant. Evolution 60:16461657.

FoucaudJ.OrivelJ.LoiseauA.DelabieJ.H.C.JourdanH.KonghouleuxD.VonshakM.TindoM.MercierJ.FresneauD.MikissaJ.McGlynnT.MikheyevA.S.OettlerJ. and EstoupA.2010. Worldwide invasion by the little fire ant: routes of introduction and eco-evolutionary pathways. Evolutionary Applications 3:363374.

IkinR. 1984. Solomon Islands cocoa tree-ant. Quarterly Newsletter of FAO Asia Pacific Plant Protection Commission 27:8.

JourdanH. 1997. Threats on Pacific islands: the spread of the tramp ant Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pacific Conservation Biology 3:6164.

JuckerC.RigatoF. and RegalinR.. 2008. Exotic ant records from Italy (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Bollettino di Zoologia agraria e di Bachicoltura 40:99107.

KeiferH.H. 1937. Systematic entomology. California Department of Agriculture Bulletin 26:433435.

LoèveÉ. 2009. The little fire ant (LFA) on Tahiti Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger 1863): the solved issue of some colonies explosions. Fenua AnimaliaMotu Uta, Tahiti11 pp.

LonginoJ. T. and FernándezF.. 2007. Taxonomic review of the genus Wasmannia. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 80:271289.

MannW.M. 1922. Ants from Honduras and Guatemala. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 61:154.

MeyerJ. and JourdanH.. 2005. Little fire ant in Tahiti and Miconia in New Caledonia: French connection to tackle “new” invasions in South Pacific islands. Aliens 21:1.

MikheyevA.S.BressonS. and ConantP.. 2009. Single-queen introductions characterize regional and local invasions by the facultatively clonal little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata. Molecular Ecology 18:29372944.

NaumannK. 1994. An occurrence of two exotic ant (Formicidae) species in British Columbia. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 91:6970.

Ndoutoume-NdongA. and MikissaB.. 2007. Influence de la présence de la fourmi Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger 1863) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) sur les autres espèces de fourmis dans la réserve de la Lopé (centre du Gabon). Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 43:155158.

RappG. 1999. Introduction of the fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata into Vanuatu. Ag Alert 18:1.

RidgellC. 2011. Invasive “little fire ants” pose huge problem for Guam. Pacific News Center 11 November 2011 <> retrieved on 22 October 2012.

RogerJ. 1863. Die neu aufgeführten Gattungen und Arten meines Formiciden-Verzeichnisses nebst Ergänzung einiger früher gegebenen Beschreibungen. Berliner Entomologische Zeitschrift 7:131214.

SantschiF. 1931. Fourmis de Cuba et de Panama. Revista de Entomologia (Rio de Janeiro) 1:265282.

TheronL. 2007. Wasmannia auropunctata linked keratopathy (WALK) hypothesis the Polynesian case. PhD dissertation. Université de LiègeLiège. 38 pp.

TindoM.Mbenoun MasseP.S.KenneM.MonyR.OrivelJ.Doumtsop FotioA.Fotso KuateA.Djiéto-LordonC.FomenaA.EstoupA.DejeanA. and FoucaudJ.. 2011. Current distribution and population dynamics of the little fire ant supercolony in Cameroon. Insectes Sociaux 59:175182.

VanderwoudeC. 2008. Operational plan for management of Wasmannia auropunctata (little fire ant) in East Sepik ProvincePapua New Guinea. VCL New Zealand21 pp.

VonshakM.DayanT.Ionescu-HirshA.FreidbergA. and HefetzA.. 2010. The little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata: a new invasive species in the Middle East and its impact on the local arthropod fauna. Biological Invasions 12:18251837.

WalkerK.L. 2006. Impact of the little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata, on native forest ants in Gabon. Biotropica 38:666673.

WalshP.D.HenschelP.AbernethyK.A.TutinC.E.G.TelferP. and LahmS.A.. 2004. Logging speeds little red fire ant invasion of Africa. Biotropica 36:637641.

WaterhouseD.F. 1997. The major invertebrate pests and weeds of agriculture and plantation forestry in the southern and western Pacific. Australian Centre for International Agricultural ResearchCanberra, Australia93 pp.

WeberN.A. 1948. Studies on the fauna of Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire and the Venezuelan islands 14: Ants from the Leeward group and some other Caribbean localities. Natuurwetenschappelijke Studiekring voor Suriname en Curacao 5:7886.

WettererJ.K. 2005. Worldwide distribution and potential spread of the long-legged ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes. Sociobiology 45:7797.

WettererJ.K. 2007. Biology and impacts of Pacific islands invasive species. 3. The African big-headed ant, Pheidole megacephala (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pacific Science 61:437456.

WettererJ.K. 2008. Worldwide spread of the longhorn crazy ant, Paratrechina longicornis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 11:137149.

WettererJ.K. 2009a. Worldwide spread of the ghost ant, Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 12:2333.

WettererJ.K. 2009b. Worldwide spread of the destroyer ant, Monomorium destructor (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 12:97108.

WettererJ.K. 2010. Worldwide spread of the pharaoh ant, Monomorium pharaonis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 13:115129.

WettererJ.K. 2011. Worldwide spread of the tropical fire ant, Solenopsis geminata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 14:2135.

WettererJ.K. and PorterS.D. 2003. The little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata: distribution, impact, and control. Sociobiology 42:141.

WettererJ.K. and WettererA. L.. 2004. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Bermuda. Florida Entomologist 87:212221.

WettererJ.K.WildA.L.SuarezA.V.Roura-PascualN. and EspadalerX.. 2009. Worldwide spread of the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 12:187194.

WheelerW.M. and MannW.M.. 1914. The ants of Haiti. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 33:161.

WheelerW.M. 1911. Additions to the Ant-fauna of Jamaica. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 30:2129.

WheelerW.M. 1913. Ants collected in the West Indies. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 32:239244.

WheelerW.M. 1916. Ants collected in Trinidad by Professor Roland Thaxter, Mr. F.W. Urich, and others. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 60:323330.

WheelerW.M. 1919. The ants of Tobago Island. Psyche 26: 113.

ZolessiL.C. de de AbenanteY.P. and PhillippiM.E.. 1985. Insetos del Uruguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lista ilustrada de los formicidos del Uruguay (2da. Parte). Actas de las Jornadas de Zoologia del Uruguay 1985:1920


  • View in gallery

    Wasmannia auropunctata. Worker from New Caledonia: (A) head, (B) lateral view, (C) dorsal view (photos by Eli Sarnat). This figure is published in color in the online version.

  • View in gallery

    Wasmannia auropunctata workers in Panama (photo by A. Wild). This figure is published in color in the online version.

  • View in gallery

    Worldwide distribution records of Wasmannia auropunctata. This figure is published in color in the online version.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 44 44 25
Full Text Views 98 98 61
PDF Downloads 3 3 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0